By The Venerable S. S. O. Sodipe (Rtd)
Principal of the School, Officers of the school, Boys! Let me congratulate the Principal and officers on the occasion of the 2017 Clergy School. As we come to this mountain, God will sharpen us and make us more effective instruments to SHINE for Him.
What we are looking at now is very wide: THE MATURE CLERGYMAN. We cannot exhaust it. I rely on you to think along with me, and after, raise some very important issues I have left out.
1. You need to be mature.
a. As a Clergyman, you are a leader: even the deacon of last Thursday is now a leader! You cannot talk about “the authorities”. You are part and parcel of them now. Yes, you may be down the ladder, but you are part of the ladder. So you must be mature.
b. You are an accounting officer, Even as an Assisting Clergyman, in some respects, the buck stops on your table: you cannot pass it on. So you must be mature.
c. When important issues crop up, Oga will ask you first. So you must be mature
d. The society around (in the church, as well as outside) is taking you as a leader.
2. In the Neighbourhood
Shine your eyes! Take interest in people around you – outside the church: children, youth, and old people. Some are out there waiting for God’s ministration through you. It may be some women you notice: let Mummy do it.
Be relevant to them; don’t say “If they need assistance, they will come to the church”. God may want you to take the initiative.
If there is a problem the neighbourhood can come together to solve, you can spearhead it.
3. At Work (NS Brothers)
Be dogged about your punctuality, staying at your desk, loyalty to the boss, courtesy, how you address people. Empathize with those under you but be firm.
4. On the Road
You are a road user, you have your rights but you are a leader. People know who you are, even when you are not wearing the collar! So watch it!
5. Money in the church
a. Be passionate about assessment and other dues going up. “Up” is not “them”. The Clergyman is part of “the people up”. Let the people see this. Nothing to be ashamed of: it is Anglicanism! If “up” is not O.K, we down cannot be O.K
b. Consult the wardens adequately but take leadership.
c. If you are straight, it will be easier to be firm. Watch it! Some people want to get you into compromising situations. Each of us has a price: once they pay you that price, you become their slave. Don’t let them know your price, talk less of their paying it.
Know clearly what the Diocesan rules are about monies. Operate the rules meticulously (and be ready to pay for it!)
d. We all need money! Eccles 10:9
But where is the key? Psalm 121: 1-2, Psalm 23: 1. If that is so, then practise Prov. 3: 9-10, Malachi 3: 10-12. And you can be calm and unafraid.
6. Work hard
Don’t be like the sluggard of Prov. 6: 9-11.
a. Plan your day: regular office hours, counseling, visiting
b. Prepare your sermons, Bible study etc. Prepare them well.
i. Make it rich.
ii. Give it time. Don’t wait till Friday: “I want my sermon to be up-to-date and relevant”. And it ends up being shallow, watery, boring No! Work, pray, be organized. That is how God will make it relevant and pungent.
iii. There are many issues our members are itching to be taught on: comportment at work; home & family life; giving to God; praying; fasting; how to share your faith with your neighbour; the Creed; the Lord’s Prayer; the 39 Articles etc. You can organize a series on any of these.
Take interest in the choir and the organist(s). The music aspect of our church life is important. Take a lead.
a. Be interested and be knowledgeable in the basics.
b. Prepare for them well ahead: at least a month ahead. Then you can insist on standards.
a. WITH THE OGAS
The Archdeacon, the Vicar (if you are assisting), the Bishop. Be helpful, be loyal, work for their success, Pray for them to succeed. Nothing negative from your lips concerning them. Never forget that we all have the OgaPatapata there – watching and rewarding!
b. WITH JUNIORS
Empathize with them, work for their welfare and progress, Help them in their times of difficulty. But be firm.
c. WITH OTHER CLERGYMEN
Be helpful. Be open. Watch your tongue. Don’t be Rev. News – bringer! Never say something negative about a Clergyman behind him.
i. Take a positive attitude to transfers, Avoid bitterness, even if it has been engineered. Your Employer is up there and He is in charge. So pack and go.
ii. Be cordial with your successor and predecessor, Write handover notes that are full and helpful. Organize a visit and take your successor round the church etc.
iii. Don’t rubbish your predecessor in the new place: a word of praise for his achievement, a word of understanding and explanation for any obvious failing. You cannot afford to build anything lasting on his ruins.
iv. And when you leave a place, please, please,please leave! Phil.3:13 – 14
a. Our wives are co – heirs with us I Peter 3:7. Treat her with utmost respect.
b. Both of you should cooperate to achieve one voice in handling the children.
c. Both of you should work hard towards sexual fulfillment. There are Christian books that are very helpful on this. Don’t sweep it under the carpet. It can transform your life & ministry.
d. The children should be trained to be respectful to everyone and to serve the church with their gifts. Don’t discuss the misdeeds of the members or your boss before them.
e. Remember you are in charge at home! God will blame you for everything that goes wrong there. It sounds unfair but that was the experience of Adam Gen. 3:17; in spite of Gen. 2:18.
f. Spend time with her, spend time with the children. They need it…… and you need it.
g. Know when tension is coming and act before it lands! Who will counsel the counselor?
The Clergyman must always be reading. One way to achieve this is to take one area of study relating to the ministry: perhaps the one you loved best at the seminary or university: OT, NT, Biblical languages, Church History, Philosophy, Pastoralia, Ethics, and Worship etc. Take one discipline and start with some light reading/exercises 1 day a week. Go slowly but steadily. Buy one or two books at a time.
11. YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE (PERSONAL)
It’s coming last but it is the most crucial. It determines everything else Proverbs 4:23.
a. You must be born again. It is non – negotiable. Check it, there will be pastors, including Anglican clergymen, in hell.
b. Once you are sure you are a child of God, you must grow: you must mature! The word of God is your spiritual food. Personal study (only a few verses) everyday, so Jesus can talk to you. I Peter 2:2.
c. Pray (30 min. – 1hour or more) everyday, List out needs for yourself, wife, children, relatives, church, Archdeaconry, Diocese, friends, nation. Share items under each section into the days of the week.
d. Identify some aspects of your spiritual life or other areas of life where you need special intervention of God: is it a problem afflicting one of the children or your wife? Is it a bad habit in your life that refuses to go? Is it a burden for something in the church or someone in the extended family?
Pick a day in the month (e.g. the last Friday) and Fast and pray on those issues.
God loves that and meets such with surprises. Your body will benefit from it too!
And it will deepen your maturity!!