While I was growing up I had this ambition of becoming a soldier. I love the military uniform and the respect they receive from the civilians. I had always talked about it to my father, brothers and friends. Church ministry or going to theological school was not part of my future plans. In order to stay focused, I decided to study computer Science at high-school and the polytechnic. Yes! I felt satisfied when I was offered admission to study computer science. After that, the Nigerian Army will have no option but to recruit/enlist me as one of their personnel. I was on this plan of achieving my ambition, not knowing that God has a different calling for me as; Prov. 16:9 stated; “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” NIV. I thought I was moving towards my calling and vocation, not knowing that I was moving in an opposite direction – indirectly proportional to the destiny that God has prepared for me. God told Jeremiah; “I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future” NIV. Today I found myself into church ministry, children ministry to be precise. How did it happen?
I was offered admission into Adamawa State Polytechnic Yola to study Computer Science (pre-ND) which is a one year programme before I will be enrolled into a full-time diploma. After the one year Pre-ND Comp. Science, I decided to change the programme to Statistics. After my graduation in 2012, I wanted to further study statistics in the University but due to my deficiency of English in my high-school certificate – West African Examination Council (WAEC), I was not offered Admission. I return home and continue reseating the examination in order to clear the deficiency. During that period, my mother advised that I should try applying to the seminary for a degree in theology. I wasn’t having that thought, but I don’t know what came over me that day; I quickly responded with yes I should try. Because the seminary is not far from my hometown, I drove to the seminary and purchased the entry form. After entrance exams and interviews, I was offered admission into the seminary. This was how the journey began.
Seminary experience changed my perspective of God; how he chooses people and leads them in his own way. I could see the person God was forming me to become; a soldier, not of the Nigerian Army but of Him and for Him. While thinking of becoming a soldier, I thought of a time of rising to a rank where I will give command to battalions and troops, where I will gain recognition by officers of the lower rank, and travel to places I so wished – “a way of upward mobility” as Nouwen stated. But in this journey that I started with God, I could see him shaping me to become a humble leader who receives from God for the benefit of others. Yes, this experience has made me achieve what I had wanted to achieve – to be recognized and be respected. God has raised me to become a leader of His Holy people, he makes me speak to congregations and they listen. This is not by command as in the Army, but with love and respect.
I could not have become what I am today or stand where I stand if not because of the amazing experience of God’s leadership that I had. He led me, though I wouldn’t choose it myself, but that’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. My pride and ego has been hung on the cross and He dressed me with the best garment of humility for His service. I agree with Nouwen that; “The way of the Christian leader is not the way of upward mobility in which our world has invested so much, but the way of downward mobility ending on the cross.” When Christian leadership turns to what the leader will possess (wealth and power), it will seldom fulfill the purpose and the will of God.
This experience has helped me to understand that; as a Christian leader, I should fully depend on God for provision. He provided to the Levites in the OT and to His disciples in the NT – so, he shall provide my needs today. I learn not to put myself into foolish ambition, though there’s nothing good in being poor, but because I don’t want to be a prey to trial 1Tim. 6:9. I understand that it is my duty to liberate people from the bondage of sin into freedom with Christ – this will not be achieved by mere talks but by deep theological discussion on the problem that is facing the Christian in my time. I will like to conclude by Nouwen statement that;
The task of future Christian leaders is not to make a little contribution to the solution of the pains and tribulations of their time, but to identify and announce the ways in which Jesus is leading God’s people out of slavery, through the desert to a new land of freedom.
(In the name of Jesus, Reflection on Christian Leadership by Nouwen, Henri J.M)
Martin H. Kamaidan
Saved by Grace