The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins has urged Christian leaders to live exemplary lives of love and sacrifice, so as to bear witness to Jesus Christ, in all situations, wherever they may find themselves. Archbishop Martins gave the charge in a keynote address presented by Very Rev. Fr. Mike Okonkwo, Dean, Yaba Deanery, representative of the Archbishop at the 2021 lay leaders’ seminar, with the theme, “Accountable stewardship: A criterion of judgment for Christian leaders”, held recently at St. Jude Catholic Church, Mafoluku, Lagos. The Archbishop urged leaders in their different capacities, to reexamine the manner in which they live their lives, and to bridge the gap between what they profess, and how they live. He said: “In an age, where there are many mere speakers of the word, the theme, ‘Accountable stewardship: A criterion of judgment for Christian leaders’, actually challenges us to reexamine the manner in which we live our lives, and to bridge the possible gap between what we profess, and how we live; thus, becoming as it were, authentic witnesses to that faith that we profess. “Indeed, all of us, in our different capacities are Christian leaders; whether as clerics in the ministerial priesthood or in the offices that we hold as lay persons, and of course, by the virtue of our baptism.
Hence, today, we all have the responsibility of learning how we can equip ourselves to live exemplary lives that bear witness to our Lord Jesus Christ, wherever we find ourselves.” Calling on Christian leaders to make good influence on the lives of people, Archbishop Martins noted that in Matthew 24:45-51, Jesus gave the criteria for stewardship, as one, who is dutiful, responsible, diligent, committed, and not hypocritical. He also admonished the leaders to reflect on the values of stewardship, with the aim of improving themselves, to lead exemplary lives, by being faithful and accountable of the many gifts and talents that God has bestowed on them. Giving a talk, titled, “Leadership without love and sacrifice is tyranny”, Rev. Fr. Paul Adegoriola, Chaplain, Confraternity of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, said that in order to effectively carry out the missionary mandate of the Church, every leader of the various groups and societies, will have to follow in the order of their master, Jesus Christ, who entrusted the mandate to the Church. “Since the Church does not exist for itself, but for God’s glory, then, leadership in the Church cannot exist for itself, it has to be for God”, he said. Speaking on leadership and love, Fr. Adegoriola said to be good leaders; people have to be good servants first.
He said: “It takes servant-hood, in order to influence individuals, and make them perform tasks that are necessary for success. We serve God by serving others. At the basis of servant leadership is the concept of love. Without love, there cannot be true leadership. Loving, in turn, includes service and sacrifice.” On principles of good leadership, Fr. Adegoriola said: “If you desire to become the best leader you can be, then, you need to be selfless, loving, and make sacrifices, in order to lead well. Leadership demands constant sacrifice. Any leader, who lacks genuine and practical love, is in the proper sense of the term, a tyrant. While urging people to make themselves available for God, he said: “There is need for a useable vessel in the house of God. God has planned from the beginning to do his work on earth through men. Though there are many people in the Church today, useable men and women are very scarce.” Giving a talk titled, “Self development and improvement: A basic requirement for leaders”, Mr. Malachy Okolie noted that among other things, a leader must learn how to manage their emotional life, as well as take their spirituality, and that of the people they lead into cognizance.
Okolie said that the greatest task of a leader is to hold on to the fact that he is the image and reflection of the glory of God. He urged leaders to be responsible in their role and duty in order to fan into flames the spiritual gifts given to them by God, to collaborate with God, to become and do all that God wants them to do. Also speaking, Very Rev, Fr, Hycinth Ibe, Director, Catholic Lay Apostolate, quoting Matt 24: 25-50, urged Christians not to be tyrannical in whatever leadership positions they may find themselves, adding that they should avoid the fate that awaits the unfaithful steward. He further urged leaders to live exemplary lives, as well as improve on their leadership quality. Those in attendance include Rev. Fr. Gabriel Odin, Parish Priest, St. Jude Catholic Church, Mafoluku, as well as lay leaders from various groups in the Church.