My parents were pastors of a village church in a poor farming community. We virtually lived a hand to mouth existence. Being under the apartheid system had its stepchildren of poverty, lack, poor living conditions, harsh laws, maltreatment etc. it was a far-fetched dream to even dream about being successful under those sub-human conditions. When I started working after leaving school the color of my skin worked against me. Promotion was impossible! Working conditions were terrible and the salary was laughable. You had to simply exist under those conditions – there was no way out…any protest, even the slightest complaint against the Apartheid system would mean torture, imprisonment and even death. Against that backdrop we had to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to an oppressed people who regarded the Christian God as a ‘White God.’ This made evangelising tough! The Hindus maintained that they would rather stick to their religion when we discriminated even in our churches. Blacks were not allowed to sit next to whites and therefore had a separate section. One prominent black politician asked: “Would there be different sections in heaven? Thus our journey to where we are today in politics and religion literally took blood, sweat and tears.
Strong Leaders are needed today:
Across the spectrum of time, there has always been a lone voice, which boomed through the corridors of history. Perhaps, it was the commanding voice of a Moses who demanded: “Let my people go!’ or the inspiring voice of a Martin Luther King who declared: “I have a dream!” or it could have been the empowering voice of a Winston Churchill who resurrected his countrymen to patriotic passion by declaring: “Never give up!” Or it could have been the triumphant voice of a Nelson Mandela who raised his fists after his release with the slogan: “Amandla Awethu – Power to the People!”
We thank God for leaders in the spiritual and secular fields who have rescued the various societies of the world from disaster, economic crisis, slavery etc. However, as history proves that peace times and war, famine and plenty, revivals and backslidings are a never ending cycle. As the Book of Ecclesiastes states there is a time for everything. At this point in time there is a global recession, a worldwide warzone, and political and social upheaval.
The African Issue:
Africa is once again retreating into the ‘dark ages’ from which it was emerging. Civil wars, strife, ethnic bloodshed and overthrowing of governments have become an accepted everyday phenomenon. It is so common that people no more react but merely watch the news in an unassuming manner.
Even after its emergence from a horrific past South Africa has now slid back into lawlessness. Crime is rampant! ‘Reverse apartheid’ is the new catchphrase. An evening stroll on the beach is now a thing of the past. One is not even safe in their own home let alone in their own neighborhood. Crime has now caught South Africa in a vice-like grip. People are not safe at parks, travelling to work etc. Robbery has become a new fad. Even congregations in churches have been robbed by gangs of gun toting criminals. Drugs have taken our country by storm. Tic in the Cape and sugars in Kwa-zulu Natal are destroying homes and families. Petty theft by drug users, especially young kids is rife. South Africa is at the top spot in crime and drugs. This has placed a huge and tough responsibility on the church and especially its leadership? What will tomorrow bring? is the cry of the masses. Corruption in government and the open breaking of the law by high profile political leaders with apparent immunity from the law is a trend that is crippling the economy and destabilizing our country.
Thus whenever a dark period descends upon any nation there arises an urgency for a ‘leader of caliber’ to lead it into the light. When people cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel…they panic! Weak leaders, as well as ordinary people grope in the dark with indecision written all over their frightened faces. The danger signs would be flashing bright and clear but the pathway to choose would remain hazy to the ordinary leader. This brings us to a paradox – leaders with blurred vision can only lead when things are going well. When there is a momentum – these leaders just simply ride the crest of the wave. They simply go with the flow. And when the wave hurtles downwards they go with it. The end result is more often than not – disastrous! The Light of Jesus needs to shine once again on our land. Church Leaders have their work cut out for them!
When the challenges are the greatest, when morale is at its lowest, when the stakes are the highest, when a sweeping disaster is at its widest – when everything seems to be going terribly wrong and when last ditched, futile attempts are hastily engineered by the ‘powers that be’ to provide some relief and when the crisis looms ominously, threatening livelihood…and lives, it is at this pinnacle of hopelessness that bold, accurate and confident leadership is much needed. God is never early or never late! He is always on time. It is the leaders who are led by the Holy Spirit who have to take up the cross and proclaim the salvation and deliverance that is obtainable only through the Blood of Jesus Christ!
It is an accepted norm that people don’t naturally lead themselves. Most of them are simpletons trying to make ends meet and would rather spend all their time with families and friends in a secure environment. They dare not venture into something that demands their leisure-time, their extra-effort and their treasured-talents for fear of losing their ‘comfortable’ lifestyles. Most of them may not be wealthy but they are content living within the confines of a known situation or a familiar environment. They don’t want the pattern of their existence to be interrupted. They leave the decision making and activity programmes to the ‘politicians we voted for’ or to the Church Leadership ‘After all, it’s their responsibility to find answers and get the job done!’
Thus, soberly speaking, from historical consensus, it is the job of leaders to motivate and make their people ready for decisive action. People want answers and need their confidence to be boosted when things are going wrong. I always maintain that, the nation’s darkest hour can be the leader’s finest hour. The greater the problem, the greater the demands and equally, the greater the rewards. Leaders are revered and honoured the most when they have led people successfully through a crisis situation. These are the ones who take the initiative. They are not scared to take a stand and courageously announce their convictions. They are not intimidated by intimidation;
There is a dire need to give the people values. How shall we motivate the men and women to be willing to sacrifice and volunteer so that others may have it better? How shall they adopt the values of commitment, persistence and patience and to stay with it until the goal is realized? How shall they develop a healthy love for the land and desire to protect it from destructive processes instead of providing the necessary service to protect its citizens and its land? Irresponsible governments have actually facilitated the exploitation of its people and its resources.
On the other hand, of concern especially to the Church is the most devastating experiences at grassroots level when we witness our youth wasting away because they are unemployed, even after they have completed secondary and tertiary education. Drugs, alcohol, crime and abuse are the step-children of unemployment. How can the youth be motivated to live a meaningful life, except through Christ? The AIDS epidemic has reached catastrophic levels. Governments actually under-report and the vast number of victims who have died and are dying from this dreaded disease. Treatment and counseling, as well as healthy diets and of course knowledge are sorely needed. Some regions of Africa don’t even have anti-retrovirals and much misinformation is being dispensed to the ignorant masses who don’t know what the cause of AIDS really is and that there is absolutely no cure as yet!
Only the church can make a difference! Jesus Christ is the only answer to the scourges that are trampling the livelihood and prosperity of Africa underfoot. It has been proven, especially in South Africa that wherever the Gospel has taken root, ignorance is dispelled and prosperity sets in. However, the mechanics of setting up church structures and evangelism especially in the rural needs hard-work, passion and finances. Dilapidated and outdated structures are used to house worshippers. Some tribes even meet under trees; the larger the congregation the larger the tree they search for. However, the thunderstorms and more so, the lightning are a threat to the health, welfare and the lives of the congregants. Funding would elicit laborers and the necessary resources to ensure a smooth flow of the living Gospel into the dying territories of Africa.
In our local church we have a racial mix of Whites, Coloreds, Blacks and Indians. We have seen the handiwork of God in building a people that is not conditioned by class, creed, culture or color. Our church is a melting pot where people of the various ethnic dialects and cultures worship the only true God in Spirit and in Truth. Nothing else matters except to give honor, and glory and power to the only true God Who was manifested in the flesh through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Recognition of Great Leadership:
How do we recognise great leadership? The evidence of great leadership is the ability to take something that’s going bad or going off the rails…and firstly, stop it, secondly, turn it around in the right direction. A good leader will stop negative momentum; he will bring it to a grinding halt, a dead stop! Then he will start cranking and building up a positive momentum. Anybody, anywhere can lead a organisation when it is doing well but it will take a leader with tenacity to reconstruct an organisation that is slowly winding down and…dying.
When we turn a blind eye to reality and assume that nothing can go wrong – it is then we must apply Murphy’s Law – ‘that whatever can go wrong will go wrong!’ Leaders must not live in a dream world and make assumptions that because they have a few bases covered therefore they are immune to disasters that may arrive with different hats. The economy may crumble; longstanding, bona-fide customers may change suppliers; staff may resign or pass away; new laws may be enacted to your detriment; the demand might fade and maybe someone else comes up with the gem of an idea that completely overshadows yours.
The reality check is that leadership faces too much hindering junk in the world today – false ideas, unfounded prejudices, obsolete conventions and old-fashioned barriers which divide those who should see eye to eye and work side by side. When we honestly examine ourselves, are we not encumbered with unattractive stuff? At this juncture are grudges spilled over from embittering experiences, the skeletons of old beliefs from which the flesh has gone, leftovers of our unrefined selves – the components of ourselves which we have not known how to use or which we have not been willing to let others use.
We need a flaming fire to burn up this unpleasant litter. The need for the hour is for change in temperature among leaders who claim to be aligned with truth and reconciliation. Our hearts need to be heated with the fire of moral uprightness so that we would reach a purging stage of intolerance of things that should not have been and for caring deeply for everything that advances the reign of solid and true leadership in our nations.
If it is not driven by a strong, quality leadership, the greatest kingdom in the world will eventually crumble. Weak leadership is plagued by an outlook of compromise and an unwillingness to face reality. They remain ridiculously silent in the wake of atrocities. If its vision is hazy, its judgment flawed and its determination frail, all of the advantages of location, of self-sufficiency in provisions like food and raw materials under-girded by efficient industrial production, military might and range and value of its citizens will ultimately ruin a nation. The nation then evolves into a ‘lame-duck’ power. The same can happen in church. When leaders don’t stand up for the truth and do not announce the urgency of the hour then we are doomed. Even Queen Esther is a prime example of a leader who did not remain silent but stood up for the salvation of her people – the Jews. Her moot: “If I perish, I perish!” still echoes today against men who shiver and shake when faced with a crisis situation; leaders who compromise the truth for handouts from the ‘powers that be.’ They will embrace homosexuality, abortion etc without the faintest protest – why? Because they want favor of man.
Some leaders have the tendency of saying silver-tongued ‘sweet nothings’ and voicing important-sounding formulas and fake emotions to gain approval. This is practiced without relation to the underlying facts and becoming more evident today than ever before. Today’s leaders are greatly influenced by the media, subjected by their big-business sponsors and hindered by their ungodly quest to satisfy self. True Leadership, however, will not be hemmed in by such things. It does not confuse popularity with perception. Although global threatening troubles loom ominously on the near horizon, our leaders debate, confined by the supposed need to cater to a multitude of special interest groups.
Perhaps one of the most difficult things in life is to face reality. Facing reality is one thing that people don’t want to do. Alternatively, some face reality too late! 99% of leaders face reality too late – when the leader is the last person to see the real picture it is tragic. He should be the first to know – Reality causes us to deal with issues.
A hesitant leadership style
Is ‘a miss as good as a mile’
It creates insecurity
And failure becomes formality
The onus is upon a leader
To lead by conviction, no matter
The storm that is raging
Or negative criticism prevailing
A firm conviction, a steadfast belief
Is like an anchor of relief
When you know, that you know
Your actions you sow, will grow
Into a foundation of hope and success
And will uphold the correct process
Neither be swayed by popular opinion
Nor be crushed by negative dominion
Stand up for the right in every situation
And God will bring a blessing to the nation
Integrity escalates Belief
To get others to believe in you does not happen overnight. It demands a great deal of effort which would of course consume a great deal of time. Trust comes when the people identify the integrity of the leader. When someone trusts you, they can depend on you with their life. This brings us to another pivotal point. What constitutes a ‘good leader?’
Some might argue that it is the charming personality; others might say that it is the impact of the speechmaking; yet others may suggest that it is the person’s success in business and so forth…However, research throughout the world indicates that the number one priority for any leader is integrity! People want to be assured by a trustworthy leader. Especially when the times are tough, when the days are dark, when instability sets in, when hope dwindles and faith dissipates – people need the re-assurance that their leader is a person of integrity.
They want to hear the truth of the situation. Although the bare facts may be a hard pill to swallow – they would rather hear the bad news straight-off than being placated temporarily by false hopes and diluted half-truths. When the people can trust a leader they will then believe in his belief-system. They will walk the extra mile with him. They will support him through thick and thin! Building up strong relationships based on truth and loyalty from both sides will have a formidable impact on the progress of any nation. When people believe in their leaders they will go to any lengths to please him. So every leader must learn to believe in himself and above all this belief will be bolstered by incorporating integrity as a lifestyle!
Self-belief or confidence comes from knowing that you are your greatest resource. By believing in you, you recognize that can handle whatever obstacle confronts you. You know that if you don’t have the information, skills, or knowledge that you need, you have the internal know-how to figure out what you need to do to get it. You understand that you are competent. You also give yourself the credit you deserve.
Not only do you recognize that you are capable, but you get that you are a decent, desirable person. What that means is that you know that you are lovable, equipped with basic social skills, and know how to put yourself together to walk into any situation. You understand that you may feel increased anxiety or apprehension about walking into a situation, but that at your core you know you can handle it. You know that if someone doesn’t include you in a plan, want to hang out with you, or is upset with you that the situation is distressing but that it does not lead directly to a negative doubt label about you.
You too, must NEVER GIVE UP!
Positive affirmations will give you holding-on power.
- Do not allow yourself to feel defeated.
As we have already discussed, get rid of the negativity by asserting positive things in your life, smell and taste the victory. Don’t let anything or anyone intimidate you. Stand firm in your convictions. When the waves of defeat seem overwhelming stand firm like a rock and the mighty wave will disintegrate into droplets of water.
- Force yourself to be tough-minded and believe that you are.
In spite of the odds stacked against you, don’t let your mind play tricks on you like suggesting: “You are no good!” “You cannot make it!” “You haven’t got the mental capacity to handle the situation.” Think positive, have a change of mindset, a paradigm shift into winning concepts that will invoke healthy thoughts and expect healthy results.
- Feel confident that there are resources you can use to support yourself.
Use whatever you can, wherever you are, whenever you have to, to elicit the best in any situation. Let confidence ooze from your inner being as you utilize the resources that you have – be it people or things, or influence or finances, or opportunities or whatever that can be used to save the day.
- You are strong…believe it.
Let you belief in yourself show itself in your strength and capability to take on the best and the worst! Be unflinching, be courageous, be determined to succeed, be resolute in your belief system. Remember that nothing can be stronger than your strength in yourself. The key to the door of victory resides in your strength that lies in you. Let
5. Strive for victory. Turn your worst times into your best.
Keep on pressing forward. Don’t relent. Always move forward. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted or waylaid by issues and concerns. Take the worst time and transform it into the best time. Always focus on the trophy of achievement. Keep focused – be prepared – stay on track – don’t bend under pressure – victory doesn’t go to people who half-heartedly hope for it – it only comes to people who pursue it, fight for it, dream it and make things happen!
6. If you are truly dedicated, you will eventually win.
Those who persevere will always get what they deserve. Those who keep knocking on the doors will eventually be allowed in. Those who persist with their goal, resist every dampening effort, insist on going all the way, desist criticism in bad taste, will eventually exist in a state of unwavering determination and dedication until the victory is won.
Just remember it’s all about your attitude…Stanley Moodley