Johnson: Don’t use pastors as your holiness yardstick
By Gbenga Osinaike
The founder and Senior Pastor of Great Commission Bible Church, Rev Olu Johnson has warned Christians against using pastors as their holiness yardstick pointing out that the focus of every believer should be on Christ.
He gave the warning at the monthly interactive forum of the Christian Press Association of Nigeria which held at his Oko-Oba, Lagos Church premises on November 20.
Rev Johnson who is also the president of the United Global Churches of the Nation UGCAN told Christian journalists at the parley that it is misplacement of priority that will make a believer use pastors as righteousness standard.
He however explained that he was not by any means saying pastors are not supposed to show the light and lead the way. “What I am saying is that pastors are human beings with flesh and blood and capable of making errors. If they become our standard we may fail in our Christian walk. Christ should be our standard. We should all aim to be like Christ.” He said.
The parley which was organized to address the theme, Pastors and modern day challenge” was being hosted by Rev Johnson.
The occasion gave him the opportunity to explain some of the misgivings people have about pastors and how church members should relate with their pastors.
Giving a foundation to his position he said, “When I gave my life to Christ, the Lord specifically told me to look up to him not any man. We expect so much from pastors and we get it wrong. I never looked up to pastors. I have been the boy to many of the general overseers we see today in time past. God spoke to me that you are here and you’re responsible to me. Jesus should be your perfect example not pastors.”
He explained however that many Christians look at pastors personal lives but do not know their stories and their pedigree. “Sometimes we misjudge these people because of what we see from the outside” he said.
Rev Johnson recalled that he used to be an avid follower of Pastor Ayo Orisejafor in his early days as a preacher. But according to him some fellow believers came to dissuade him against listening to him because they felt since he was a jerry curl wearing pastor in those days, he perhaps was not of God. “Naively I listened to them. But what came to me as a surprise happened when we had a crusade in Abeokuta. Pastor Orisejafor was the one to speak at the crusade. His face was on the flyer that we were distributing around and we were doing publicity for the crusade. It was during the publicity that we encountered a mad. It was the face of Pastor Orisejafor that the mad man saw on the flyer that struck him and he became normal almost immediately.”
Johnson however explained that when pastors exhibit bad behavior and don’t project Christ, the church should not be taken aback. “What we are experiencing today is a reflection of the end of age. The system of the world today is presently dominated by the devil. But we should begin to take heed to the word of God to preach the right messages.”
Stretching his position further, he said, “I am not defending pastors. I as a pastor should live above board. We can’t give excuses. But then we are all children of God. We are all going to face judgment. We are the salt and light of the world. Even as a child of God if unbelievers cannot read you there is no need for them to read the word of God. To whom much is given much is expected.”
Johnson on Jet-buying pastors
Responding to a question on jet-buying pastors and the ostentatious lifestyles of some pastors, Johnson said he would not blame some pastors who buy private jets for the purpose of kingdom work noting that the volume of their schedule makes it imperative for them to have such facility. “It is not out of place for some of the men of God to have private jets. I will not blame them for that. For instance Pastor Enoch Adeboye has to keep in touch with branches of the church in more than 160 countries of the world. He is being invited to preach in many parts of the world. He is in fact busier than the president of Nigeria. There is no how he can fit into the commercial flight schedule.
“In my own small corner here I have missed some programmes that our church organized outside Lagos because of the delay at the airport due to flight rescheduling and cancellation. That is why I will not blame some of them who acquire private jets.”
He however noted that some pastors exhibit undue greed and avarice. “It is true that some pastors are unduly flamboyant. Some of them don’t have the capacity for what they try to do and so end up in trouble. As much as possible God has helped me to live above some of these things. Presently I don’t have a car. The car I was given, I gave out. I have given out two cars this year. But I get vehicles to take me to where I want to go. What more do I want? If tomorrow somebody sees me riding one supposedly big car they will raise eyebrow. We are planning a crusade presently. The money we want to spend on the crusade can buy two jeeps but that is not our priority. Our priority is to win souls to the Lord”
On the question of why churches don’t help members who are distressed, he said, that may not be entirely true pointing out that he knows for instance that Bishop David Oyedepo and several other pastors render tremendous assistance to members of their churches and even those who are not members. He cited instances of people who have benefitted from the largess of the Living Faith Church. In our own church here we have rendered assistance to many as God gives us the grace.”
He however explained that the Church as a body may not be as rich as people think. “There is a false image of the church which I think the church has not come to terms with. It is the way we project ourselves that make people think there is money in the church. But then we must appreciate that there is so much pressure on the church that most of the counselling time is for giving out money to members.”
At the forum a respondent and member of UGCAN hinted that the General Overseer of Mountain of Fire and Miracles, Pastor Daniel Olukoya once said he gives out an average of N2million during each of his counselling sessions which holds three times in a week.
Earlier at the forum Rev Johnson had observed that CPAN is at a vantage position to project the church rightly. He stated that with believers in the media doing the right thing there is hope for the church.
A friend of CPAN and founder of Latter House of Glory, Pastor Oladimeji Animashau says it’s time for the church to go back to basics. His words, “I believe the church should go back to basics. The messages of the 70s are no longer with us. Satan is here. We are not going to experience an open heaven during which God will pour down blessings until we know the mind of God on prosperity. The church is the representative of God on earth. Wherever the government of the land fails the church steps in. God expects us to replicate his kingdom. We are the enforcer of the kingdom. Unfortunately we are the one teaching the world to be corrupt.”
At the forum, members of both CPAN and UGACM took time to share thoughts on the way forward for the church. It was noted that the church is not cooperating enough with the media. The president of CPAN, Deacon Bola Adewara in his opening address had remarked that there is a need for the church to cooperate with journalists so that they can give a right perspective of the church to the public. He noted that many of the misinformation in town is due to communication breakdown between the church and news men.