The bishop pointed out the essence of true leadership which is leaving behind a good legacy – the type that would become a reference: “If only you were here”
“What will you be remembered for when you die? In life, you will only be remembered by the problems you created or the ones you solved. So which one will you be remembered for? May you be remembered for good in the name of Jesus! ”
These were the soul-searching words of Bishop Humphrey Erumaka, the Founder and General Overseer of Wordbase Assembly, Okota, Lagos, as he explored the question of leadership in his church during the launch of three new books he had written bringing his total authorship tally to fifteen books. The new books are: Assurance of Heaven By Grace, God At My Confused Junction and Accurate Leadership.
Of the three books, the one that earned the spotlight this Sunday morning is Accurate Leadership, the book that teaches leadership so vividly, anchored on deep spiritual and intellectual insights. With the governor of his home state Abia, His Excellency, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu present as the special guest of honour, Bishop Erumaka was in his elements as he lucidly dissected and explained the imperatives of leadership. Even the governor had his own share of the leadership message with the bishop saying: “When you are no more in leadership, what would people say about you?”
But then the man of God wasn’t just singling out Governor Ikpeazu. Like those prophets of old, he was simply telling everybody in the position of leadership, be you are a political leader, a corporate leader, a church leader or a leader even in the household to take leadership seriously. His theme this morning is “If only you were here,” chosen from John 11:21 where an anguished Martha said to Jesus: “Lord, if only you were here, my brother would not have died.” From that biblical text, Erumaka, like the captain of a ship took his congregation on a leadership cruise, a historical journey into the past and present where the great deeds of dead heroes were remembered.
“When heroes die, the living never recovers from their death,” the bishop said. “Heroes are not men that have never made mistakes. Heroes are men and women who stood for us, who stood for something and who are remembered for what they stood for.”
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He cites the case of Hannibal of Carthage (the modern day Tunisia), one of the greatest military strategists the world has ever known who fought using elephants as artillery to devastate the enemy in the Second Punic War also called the Hannibalic War. From Hannibal, he delves into boxing. Erumaka must be a boxing fanatic as he reminded the congregation about the brutal power of Mike Tyson, the boxing warrior who terrified and knocked out his opponents at blitzkrieg speed, in a matter of seconds, thereby destroying boxing such that aficionados of the fistic game like Erumaka was saying: “The beauty of boxing is gone. If only the handsome Cassius Clay (who became Mohammed Ali) was here, then the standards of boxing would not have fallen.”
From exploring the lives of leaders like Golda Meir, Richard Nixon, Odumegwu Ojukwu, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello, Obafemi Awolowo, the bishop pointed out the essence of true leadership which is leaving behind a good legacy — the type that would become a reference point many years after, for people to say: “If only you were here.”
Erumaka in his book simplifies leadership using an acronym. To him, the “L” in leadership means Ladder. “A leader is a ladder. People must climb on you to get to the next level,” he says, adding that “Don’t be offended when they use you as a ladder and dump you afterwards.” The “D” means Driver. “A leader is a driver. A driver knows the way. As a driver, no matter the provocation, your leg must still be on the throttle and your hands on the steering. You must keep your cool.” Other acronyms are explained in the book.
All through the sermon, Governor Ikpeazu sat quietly taking mental notes, nodding, enjoying the sermon, absorbing the lessons. “I have been blessed by today’s worship, especially the sermon,” he said when invited to speak. Like the bishop, the governor also went on memory lane, telling the congregation that he used to worship in this same church when he was in Lagos, from where he left for Enugu State University “where I taught until God led me to go into public service. So, I am really at home here,” he declared amidst applause. “This is my church.”
Sharing his own leadership experience, the Abia State governor recalls how he used to go incognito to monitor projects. “I used to drive around in a small car to check what the contractors are doing and I heard people saying, ‘This looks like what Mbakwe used to do for us.’”
Governor Ikpeazu sees Mbakwe as an epitome of true leadership, a leader whose works speak for him long after he had left the scene. Citing Mbakwe who in his days was dubbed the “crying governor,” Ikpeazu says: “It is possible to serve with distinction.”
He also praised Bishop Erumaka whom he sees as a leader, a teacher and a motivational speaker whose thoughts on leadership he would like to cite when lecturing on leadership. He wonders how Erumaka finds the time to write books, saying: “I struggled for five years to write one book.” He bought numerous copies of the books and supported the church with an amount he announced from the altar, promising further support in some of the projects of the church, particularly a building to accommodate 700 children
whom he prophesied as “future governors and senators.” He also promised to assist in finding solution to the malfunctioning church generator that couldn’t even make the governor enjoy air conditioning during the crowded church service that brought together Abia citizens in Lagos there to welcome their governor.
For the members of Wordbase Assembly and their bishop, it’s one Sunday they would remember as the day a member of their church who became governor in fulfilment of Bishop Erumaka’s long-ago prophecy that a member of his church would return one day to the church crowned as governor. True to the prophecy, the governor returned to be a blessing to the church and left with a promise to do more for God and country.
‘If only you were here,’ a powerful statement on leadership is a chapter in Erumaka’s book ‘Accurate Leadership.’