Moses, all the years, had been standing up, sitting down, lying down, sleeping, dreaming, waking up, and in fact, doing things normal people do. By his side, and sometimes in his hand, was a rod, a companion, he never conceived in his mind, great and marvelous things he could be doing with it. One day, God commissioned him to a task of which humility compelled him to confess his inadequacy. The excuses he advanced toward the onerous task were unacceptable to God.
In His usual manner, of working with what we have, God asked him what he had in his hand. His response was simple – “A rod!” God told him, “Cast it on the ground”. He did and it turned to a snake. A snake? Yes, a snake! “Hold it by its tail,” God told him. He did and it became a rod again. That was what he needed to confront the greatest king of the time, the Pharaoh of Egypt and to overcome the magicians of the realm, but he never knew its potency. It is painful not to know what you ought to know. He had authority above the demons and soothsayers in Egypt but he did not know. Chai!
“My people perish,” God says in His Word, “for lack of knowledge”. A General Overseer of a Church may not know what a housemaid knows. I wrote in this column some years ago, how one of the children of Prof. Udokwu, a renowned Surgeon, and the Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, would tell any of our students, who dared to beat him, “You can’t beat me, my dad is a Prof.” Imagine what would have been his fate, if he did not know who, his dad was! It is possible for him to know that his dad was a Professor of Medicine, without knowing the power he had, and the right he, his son, could derive from it.
Uncle Paul warned the people troubling him in Galatia, not to do so, because, “I bear in my body, the marks of the Lord Jesus” – Gal 6:17. Thank God that he knew that, for the marks could be there, without his knowledge. Writing to this Church in chapter 4:1, he said, “The heir, so long as he is a child, does not differ at all, from a slave, though he is master of all”. He is the heir, no doubt, but he may be behaving like a child. A child is ignorant of many things. His dad may be a General in the Army, yet, he fears a Sergeant. As he grows up, he learns who he is really. At this time, Sergeants, Captains, Majors and Colonels will be respecting and honouring him. If at that time, he does not assert his authority as the heir, Paul says that, he is not different from a servant.
Two years ago, I wrote in this column, our experience at the Police station, about twenty five years ago. We heard that a member of our Church committed a criminal offence and was arrested by the Police. We went to the Police station to get the full details of his offence and to secure his bail. The President of our Men’s Fellowship asked the Police officer, handling the case, in a very calm tone, what his offence was. The officer, full of rage and pomposity, warned that he would shoot him if dared to ask the question again. I was soaked in fear, and so were my fellow Ministers of God, but not the President of our Men Fellowship. He was not scared at all. All he did was to lift up his shirt and showed the officer his chest and told him to shoot. Silence pervaded the atmosphere.
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Someone whispered to the Police officer that the man he was threatening was a serving-combatant Army officer. He caved-in immediately, and like magma, he melted and started ‘siring’ tactfully the Army Major. Authority! The result was immediate. Our member was released from detention but not from us, because of the evil thing he did. We slammed an appropriate disciplinary measure on him. That soldier from our Church, retired years later as a Brigadier General and was awarded a National Honour for military prowess. He knew his authority, and without jaw-jaw, he applied it at requisite!
Our father in the Lord, Dr. Billy Graham, in his message, mentioned, how a dock died of starvation and when it was dissected, golden eggs were found in its belly. Rich, but poor! May it not be your portion to die because of hunger, yet, in your wallet is a huge amount of money and in the bank’s vault is your money, running into millions!
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In 1970, the civil war had just ended and I had to travel to Enugu to fill the Federal Government University Scholarship form. When I returned home, though fatigued, I had no choice but to travel to Community High School, Item, where I was teaching. Amokwe Item, one of the towns, gave us their town hall to use as school as the Nigerian soldiers were occupying our college compound. Not long after my arrival, one of their illustrious sons, Chief Ugoji Eke, visited us, shouting at the students, scattered in every nook and cranny, discussing, to give him audience. Nobody listened to him. He then clapped his hands to calm them, but they ignored him.
Being the most senior tutor around, I went to him. “Are you studying or teaching?” he asked me. I told him my status. He told me that he wanted to address the students. I stood by his side and did not utter a word, only looking at the students. Within split seconds, they were all quiet. Authority! Thank God that fatigue had not kept me at home. With my hands, I directed him to speak to them and he did. No doubt, he was an illustrious son, a man, who built a hostel for the college, but most of the students did not know him. Nobody doubted that he was the richest man in town, but the students did not know it, hence they ignored him but heeded to my silent command for them to be quiet because they knew me!
This is why the Government gives special attire to the Police, who represent the President. As long as they are in this dress, man or woman, tall or short, educated or not, you may like them or not, without shouting but by waving of mere hands, people will stop their cars at their checking point and subject themselves for searching, including the nobility.
From the illustrations above, we see that authority is derived from power bestowed on someone. It can be inherited as a birthright because someone is the child of someone. It can be derived from the position someone occupies, as in the case of the Police and military personnel. The office an individual occupies, gives him the authority to act in certain ways, as it was in my case, when I brought the students under control, which a multimillionaire could not. No matter the source, it is painful if someone has an authority and he does not know it, as in the case of Moses with his rod!