Gateway News interviews pastor, author, columnist and public speaker Afrika Mhlophe about his latest book A Passion for Position
In your first two books you boldly challenged the prevalence in our part of the world of Christians who also worship ancestors, and believers who care more about their ethnicity than their identity in Christ. In your new book, you take on leaders who you see as obsessed with titles and the trappings of power. Did your first two books stir up significant opposition and do you anticipate more or less backlash with your latest book?
I expect significant backlash but the nature of my ministry is to scratch where it itches. And self-serving and abusive leadership is an itchy issue in the Church.
The situation is so dire that the Church should declare a state of emergency and deal with a faulty system that is churning out these kinds of leaders.
Isaiah 58:12 says, You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past (MSG).
I believe we need to look into church history and learn from men and women who made a point of not obscuring people’s view of Christ. Leaders who avoided excess and anything that distracts from the pure message of the Gospel.
What inspired you to write A Passion for Position?
I started writing this book three years ago after noticing that a growing number of Christian leaders are departing from values that are true marks of greatness and a distinguishing feature of Christianity.
They are discarding values such as servanthood and humility in favour of egotism and pride.
This book dropped into my spirit and consumed me as Jeremiah was consumed by God’s prophetic word for Israel.
Jeremiah lamented the suffering of God’s people and in this book I pour out my anguish over the suffering of the Church under the weight of bad and abusive leaders.
You have observed that there is more of an emphasis on pretentious titles in the Church than in the world. What should we conclude from that?
As I have said, the situation indicates a departure from orthodox Christianity.
This is not a first for the Church but the situation only changes when lovers of the truth rise and protest.
In fact, as beneficiaries of the Protestant Reformation we have a duty to speak up. Otherwise, the faith we hold dear will completely disintegrate into something that continues to bring us embarrassment and ridicule.
What contribution would you like your book to make to Christian leadership and why is that important?
The book is a clarion call for the Church to refocus on raising leaders who value personal purity more than power. And character more than charisma.
These are Christian leaders who are Christians first, before they are leaders. In other words, they don’t lead with a dissonance between their words and their walk.
In this book I make two important points.
Firstly, that “effective leadership flows from a person and not a position — therefore the state and condition of the person who leads is more important than the position he/she occupies.”
People are not lead by positions but by the people occupying them. Therefore, obsession with position and titles misses the whole point of what leadership is about.
Secondly, a leader is raised for people and not for a position. A leader should therefore be judged, not by how long he/she has occupied a position, but the difference he/she makes in people’s lives.
In fact, an effective leader doesn’t even need a position in order to lead. But he does need love and concern for people.