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John The Best And The Value Of Power, By Cornelius Afebu Omonokhua

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Cornelius Afebu Omonokhua

Everything my father told me concerning power has played out in my life. My father akin to the sages of the wisdom literature of the Bible called me for a conversation one day. Among the many things he told me about integrity, the aspect concerning the value for power, position and office has remained eternally true for me. Here is what my father told me: “My son, so many people have died in the process of fighting for leadership positions. It is difficult for some people to give up the crown and many have preferred to die if they could not cling to power. The people who kill and even prefer to die if they do not occupy leadership positions do so because they do not understand that kingship is a gift from God. Power in the hands of the wise person can heal the world whereas power in the hands of a fool can destroy the world. The wise lead the world with soothing words while the fool rule the world with a dangling sword. Power is a double edge sword and it intoxicates like liquor if not put under control with humility as prudent guide. My son, do not be a tyrant even if you are the strongest man on earth. If somebody is envious of your position, do not fight because some people who have stolen the position of leadership may not even know what to do with power. They do not know that power is a sacred opportunity to serve God and humanity. Life is not a bed of roses but with prayer and dedication you can build human structures. Pray for the people under you and do not prey on them. By so doing, you will not be put to shame.”

In my journey through this earthly pilgrimage to my last destination where I hope to behold the loving God, I have realized that nothing comes easy. I have not gotten many things on a platter of gold. I have come to understand the allegory of the mosquito who after flying for the first time returned to tell the mother, “everybody was clapping for me.” The mother told the baby mosquito, my dear, they were really not clapping for you, they were trying to kill you.” I have been denied so many opportunities in life not because of lack of merit and efficiency. The reason is that somebody simply does not need me. I do not know if I am a threat to their positions. I have learnt from experience that most of my deprivations were steps towards greater heights. Some of my deprivations have led me to meditate very deeply on the attitude of John the Baptist towards, authority, office, position and power.

In our world today, human beings like John the Baptist are very few. If we have many types of John the Baptist in our world, the earth will be a foretaste of heaven for everybody. Some of the disciples of John the Baptist came to him and said, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness is baptizing, and all the people are going to him.” John answered, “A person cannot receive anything unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore, my joy is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:26-30). Today, how many people can say of their colleagues, “let him increase or let her increase” without the syndrome of “pull him down or pull her down.”

John was a man of integrity and he paid for his honesty with his blood. “John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them. But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done. Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison (Luke 3:19-20). John could have proclaimed himself the Messiah of the Jewish expectation but he did not. He was content with his position. “The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:15-22). He declared his identity and his mission: “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord” (John 1:23).

Genuine power is a call to service. When a true leader occupies a position of power, he becomes a point of reference as a model. Authority is derived from the word “author” hence a leader who in reality is a servant reveals his authority with genuine content of character. He has authority over his emotions and temperaments just as one of the meanings of the word “jihad” means struggling or striving to conquer one’s personal weakness. People who are emotionally and intellectually powerful do not intimidate the people around them with unnecessary aggression. Those who are genuinely endowed with power are meek and humble. They are ready and willing to cope with the weaknesses of others like Jesus who said: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:29).

If you are competent to lead the people, the way you talk and relate to people will command respect in a way and manner that you will be obeyed without issuing commands with threats. Once you appreciate the power in you, you do not need to demonstrate it by verbal force. According to Margaret Thatcher, it is those who feel powerless who act in a demanding, overwhelming, power-driven way to compensate for their perceived powerlessness. As a result, they underestimate their ability to affect others and behave in extreme ways that are aggressive or disproportionately intense. This has far more negative impact on their partners and their relationships than they had ever intended (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/me-we/201306). Those who source for power to protect their weakness and powerlessness can never adopt the attitude of John the Baptist. Instead of creating space for others to grow, they become obstacles and enemies of progress.

Every serious organization that has a clear mission, vision and specific objectives take leadership training very serious. The organization source for qualified experts with merit to occupy the positions that each person specializes in. Leadership training makes human beings actualize their potentials. No organization with a clear focus exist to produce leaders without commitment. The organization therefore invest in human resource management and strategic planning to identify human beings with adequate emotional intelligence, emotional competence, personal competence with self-control, social competence and self-management. An organization whose aims and objectives are conflict management, conflict resolution, conflict transformation and peace-building needs people who are reconciled reconcilers. A peace builder needs special skills for public relations and control of anger. This calls for the capacity to be an image maker of the institution with acceptable behavioral acumen to showcase what the organization represent. The calmness of a leader reflects inner peace in relating to people. Only the meek can lead the world to true peace. May all who aspire to leadership positions take this to heart, mind and soul.

Fr. Cornelius Omonokhua is the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) ([email protected]; www.omonokhua.blogspot.com)

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