Ghandi Olaoye: Why Pastors Should Not Become Kings
By: Deji Yesufu
There is the possibility that everything I will be writing in this essay will be a rehearsing of things I have written before. I am however encouraged to venture into this subject because it is possible that some who will read this article, have not read anything else I have written. For these ones, my argument will be new and it will not be a waste of effort after all. Secondly, the subject matter that has triggered this essay is a new one. So, I will basically be employing old thoughts and making them relevant to a new subject. In this essay I want to explain why it is incongruous with sound and practical Christianity for a Christian minister to leave his calling and seek to become a king. It is even more distasteful to learn that a supposed born again Christian, filled with the Holy Spirit, will seek to become a traditional ruler – a king in a Yoruba city.
It has been reported in numerous online and print media that one Pastor Afolabi Ghandi Olaoye, a Pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), is vying for the position of Soun of Ogbomoso – a grade A traditional position in Oyo State. Ghandi Olaoye is the Senior Pastor of Jesus House, RCCG, in Washington DC, a church that is touted as the biggest and most successful Redeemed Church outside Nigeria. Olaoye has been a pastor with the RCCG since 1992, thirty years now, having pastored branches of the church in Nigeria, Germany and then the United States of America. Olaoye is said to be a Crown Prince to the Ogbomoso traditional stool and with the passing of the 20th Soun of Ogbomoso last year, the traditional seat of power in the town was vacated and a number of illustrious sons of Ogbomoso are already vying for the coveted chair. Ghandi Olaoye has also thrown in a bid to be Soun. In fact a few days ago, it was rumored that Ghandi had actually resigned his pastorate in the USA to contest for the seat. The revered Pastor has however refuted this claim, saying it is not true. What is not controvertible is that he as a pastor is vying for the stool of the Soun of Ogbomoso, and it is this matter I wish to write on.
I am thoroughly convinced that a Pastor should not be vying for the seat of a traditional ruler, nor should he be involved with politics – running for the seat of Governor, President or any other political office for that matter. I make this argument because I am convinced that there is no higher calling than the call to serve Jesus Christ in Christian ministry. There is no nobler vocation than those of looking after the souls of human beings and preparing them for the life to come. Those who relinquish the office of a pastor to serve in political office or as traditional rulers have not been genuinely called by God. If they have been, I am convinced that the weight of the call on them will constrain them in the path of ministry, and there will be very little allowance to serve anywhere else. Once upon a time, an apostle of Jesus wrote this: “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” – 1 Corinthians 9:16. Those are the words of Apostle Paul, a man who felt constrained to do nothing else than serve Christ in ministry. If one is already serving the God of the universe and preparing souls for eternity with him, it will be plain relegation to go and serve mere men.
The trouble however with pastors seeking to be kings or traditional rulers is even a lot more worse than I have already stated. At the root of it all is a faulty theology; a false conception of God; and the pursuit of worldly gains and human approbation. Long before we began to have pastors leave the high calling of ministry to serve as earthly kings, Christendom was replete with men and women who entered Christian ministry with the mindset of sacrifice. Because Jesus Christ died and redeemed them from their sins, these men and women were committed to dying to help others come to saving faith in Christ Jesus. The word “minister” in the New Testament connotes servanthood, not the lofty position of a “man of God” like we know it today in our churches. In his book, Pastors and Teachers, Derek Prime writes: “Contemporary use has given the word ‘minister’ a rather respectable sound, so that it implies station and office. But not so in the New Testament, for it properly implies lowly service – in fact, like that of a table waiter!” A Christian minister is a servant. When ministers begin to seek to be king, something is desperately wrong somewhere.
Ghandi Olaoye, as a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, espouses the Pentecostal religion. While there might be a lot of things wrong with Pentecostalism itself – the real challenge of modern Pentecostalism is its espousal of the Word of Faith gospel. This is what Gotquestion.com, a reputable online theological medium, says about the Word of Faith theology: the “Word of Faith teaching is decidedly unbiblical…” The Word of Faith theology espouses what has come to be known as the prosperity gospel. It is a message that teaches that Jesus Christ died and rose again to make Christians healthy and wealthy. The Word of Faith theology is another gospel – it is plain heresy. It has however taken advantage of a wide acceptance among many professing Christians in Nigeria to today become the standard of orthodoxy among Christians in our nation. Ghandi Olaoye espouses a Word of Faith theology and in keeping with this theology’s quest for the better life and higher positions that comes with more wealth, he would see no reason to jettison the high calling of a pastor to sit on the vain stool of a town’s traditional ruler.
I understand that when the recent Olu of Warri was installed as king of that town, the man dedicated his coronation to “my Lord and my Savior, Jesus Christ.” I’m also told that Ghandi will not be the first pastor to leave the church to be installed Oba in Nigeria. All these, however, only lend credence to an oft made remark that Christianity in our day has become increasingly worldly, while the world has become increasingly churchy. Our Lord Jesus himself said that many on the last day will say to him “Lord, Lord…” but he will say to them: I do not know you; depart from me because you are workers of iniquity (Matthew 7:22-23). It has always been the modus operandi of the devil to make Christianity popular so that it can infiltrate its ranks with false confessors.
Ghandi may also wish to hide behind a plethora of Nigerian Pastors who are seeking political office. The nation’s number two man, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, himself is a pastor also with the Redeemed Church. Pastors like Tunde Bakare and Chris Okotie have never hidden their hopes of one day ruling Nigeria. The only problem is that a case could be made for these pastors running to lead a country purely on a secular basis. The trouble is that traditional seats in the country are known for their meddling with diabolical means. Most times, Christians have sought to pay their way through these traditional rites but they forget that whether they are directly involved in the rites or they are paying for it, they are still very much part of it. While pastors running for political offices do not engage in diabolical rites, the same case can be made against them: anyone called into the Christian ministry should never leave it for the kingly stool.
What the Christian Church needs today are genuine pastors and teachers. Christianity is in crisis because many professing Christians do not have worthy examples to follow. The gospel need of our day is immense: there is a world out there perishing without God and his Christ. The gospel needs to be taught and lived out in full. Sinners need to comprehend the gospel and be saved. Many institutions are suffering because Christians are not shining their light on them. Marriages are folding up; homes are breaking; children are being raised by single parents; violence is on our streets and insecurity abounds. This is besides the proliferation of cults in our day. The last thing we need are men who claim to serve God and are merely serving their bellies.
In the process of writing this essay, I came across new reports that indicate that Ghandi Olaoye has actually been appointed Soun of Ogbomoso and is only awaiting coronation. Another report from Punch newspapers states that Ghandi had initially not been interested in the position of king but he was encouraged by Pastor E. A. Adeboye to pray about it. Ghandi claims in the interview that God told him that this was the reason he was born: to become Soun of Ogbomoso. It is impossible for me to include in this essay reasons why I am convinced that it is not God that has spoken to Ghandi to pursue this line of action but since it is far too common for Pentecostals to legitimize every vain desire of their hearts with “God told me”, we will just as well have to accept his position. Suffice to say that some of us know well enough that the words of God are stated in the Bible and by direct or meaningful deduction, we can come to know what God might be saying to us today. I am thoroughly convinced that God has not asked Olaoye to be Soun of Ogbomoso. The witness of scripture is clear enough: you cannot be servant to God and be servant of mammon at the same time.