‘And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.’ James 5:15-16.

IN pastoral theology, it is an accepted norm that ‘the pulpit must be higher than the pew’. This, therefore, accounts for the need of the minister to be above board both in terms of knowledge of the Word of God and spirituality. But if contrary is the case, it should now be viewed seriously and should not just be wished away.

  The elder James may have foreseen an unusual situation, where the congregation is more spiritual than their minister and he aptly gave his admonition on the prayer of the righteous person (church). He was aware of the jealousy and envy such may evoke between the church and its minister. Therefore, he felt that such should be handled maturely. It is possible, if such a subtle thing is not managed properly, a given church will shortly be torn apart or be engrossed in party spirit. I am persuaded to believe that the devil likes such opportunities and so, may use such a situation to scatter the church of God.

  In a recent lecture titled ‘Leadership and expected Spiritual Growth of Churches’ delivered to Graduate students of Crowther Theological Seminary, Abeokuta, Prof. Daisy Nwachukwu of University of Calabar, asserted that: ‘where some members seem to have grown higher than their leader (that is the minister), such a distance on both sides would be approached maturely, living and encouraging one another both vertically and horizontally. In the Biblical context, leadership must be higher in spiritual maturity than the followers, just as the pulpit is higher than the pew. In effect, the distance in quality and level of spiritual growth and maturity, if the reverse is the case, that is, the congregation higher than that of the minister (although it ought not to be so), this should invigorate and challenge the leader to work hard and rise higher in growth as fast as possible, seeking solution to his own known limitations. While such members in maturity and brotherly love enable and encourage leadership with effectual and fervent prayer’.

  However, some church leaders may never grow spiritually again. Why? Such traits as pride, shame and I do not care attitude, which have been identified among others, are likely factors that may hold down such ministers from attaining the desired spiritual growth. But this should not be the spirit.

  We are aware that pride goes before a fall. It is a deadly disease the devil uses to inflict ministers. They may not know that they are not flowing spiritually and so, are not connected spiritually to their source, which is God. It is painful; pride blurs vision and also hinders spiritual growth. St Paul saw this many years ago and he exclaimed: ‘forbid it Lord that I should boast’. It is only a man conscious of this that will not go down to the extent that the members will be rated higher in spirituality than oneself. Until we attack the root, this element of pride, some ministers may never recover spirituality.

  Though Samson would go out like the other times, but when the time came for him to finish in the ministry, lo and behold, the Philistines, their traditional enemies caught hold of him, shaved him and worse still plucked out his eyes. How serious that was and may still happen unless one today does a spiritual check to ascertain where he is spiritually.

Ven. Ernest Onuoha
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre,
Delta State.

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