INTERVIEW:If you are a leader in the ministry, you are born to serve, not born to rule- Pastor Oladokun

Pastor Simeon Oludare Oladokun

Pastor Simeon Oludare Oladokun is the Zonal Superintendent of Christ Apostolic Church, Nehemiah Generation Zone, London, and Regional Secretary of CAC Anosike Region. In this interview with 'Gbenga Bankole, Pastor Oladokun speaks on his concept about ministry and other interesting issues. EXCERPT !

I want you to tell us briefly your sojourn into the ministry

I was called into the ministry in the year 1980. I started specifically on the 23rd of December, 1980. There have been prophecies right from my young age that handbell was seen in my hand and that no matter where I go in the world I would still come back to proclaim the Gospel. When I finished my primary school, I never wish to become a minister of God. This is because we used to have an Evangelist, called Catechist in those days, the kind of worn out shoes he used to wear made me to be thinking that “is this what I am going to become?” As a result, I didn’t yield to the calling. I kept on trying one thing or the other. I stayed in Warri and Sokoto for a while and nothing seemed to be working for me. One day my mother said “don’t you remember what was said about you that wherever you go in life you can never succeed until you yield to the calling? My advice to you is that you should not prolong your journey.”
After then I decided to yield to the calling and I was taken to Baba J.B. Bankole. After some times of tutelage with him I went to CAC Theological Seminary in 1981 and I finished in 1983. After finishing in 1983, right from graduation ceremony I went to Lagos where I served the Lord at CAC General Headquarters, Ebute-Elefun until February 1986 when I travelled to United Kingdom for further theological studies. Originally, I thought that I was going to study in UK for two years and return to Nigeria, but the more I was studying the more I loved the place. I first attended International Bible Training Institute (IBTI) and another theological training college in Cambridge where I was prepared for Cambridge University external examinations and then to London Bible College. Concurrently, I was still serving in the church at CAC Seven Sisters, London. After that, I studied at the University of Kent for a Masters degree in Applied Theology and followed by another Masters degree in Bible and Ministry at the King’s College London. Presently I am doing my PhD and Pastoring CAC Balm of Gilead, superintending Nehemiah Generation Zonal Headquarters.

Were you ordained as a Pastor before you left Nigeria?

No, I wasn’t. I was ordained in London in the year 1997.

Tell us some of the assemblies you worked before you became the Zonal Superintendent of Nehemiah Generation Zone

When I was in London Bible College I was leading Bible Studies under Pastor Fashina who was our former Coordinator in Europe. In 1994 I was pastoring a church in South East London known as CAC Peckham and was previously pastored by Pastor Paul Sodeke until December 4th 1994 when he left. I renamed the church ‘Christ Apostolic Church Mount Zion International’ in 1995 and led it into her present place of worship at 1a Sumner Road in London until I moved on from there in  August 2001 to start CAC Balm of Gilead.

Having worked at CAC General Headquarters, Ebute-Elefun, Lagos, how can you compare the working environments in Nigeria and London as a minister of God?

You cannot compare apple with apple, but you can compare pear with apple. Christ Apostolic Church in Nigeria is an apple and also Christ Apostolic Church in Europe is another apple. We can’t compare the two. What we can do is to compare ministry in Nigeria with that of United Kingdom and that is when we can use the illustration of apple and pear. In Nigeria the zeal and discipline for the work is there and when you are called into the ministry and you are really ready for it, you could find people who will guide you. That is what happened in my own case in 1980 when I was taken to an experienced man of God, Pastor Bankole who was a Prophet and you can’t overemphasize the experience. Some people also do it in UK, but you can’t compare the two. In Europe you are being prepared by an experienced man of God (that is if there is anything like that) to become a Pastor, while in Nigeria you are being prepared for the ministry and title comes later.
In terms of spirituality, it is a bit difficult to define it nowadays, but in those days you can easily define it. Your spirituality affects every spectrum of your life. In Nigeria the issue of corruption has not just messed up the nation or the secular society; it has also affected the church. And as a result it is very difficult to define spirituality compared to those days. In those days companies used to demand for members of CAC to fill some vacant positions because they knew we are people of integrity and children of God, but in this generation you can’t boastfully say ‘I’m standing for this person.’ Meanwhile, in those days in Europe ministry was very difficult because there was spiritual coldness. To evangelize was very difficult, but nowadays because of migration of people from different countries it is now easier. In those days a ‘white person’ preferred to respond to a ‘white person.’ Ministry is becoming easier these days compared to those days, but people should know the difference between ‘I’m becoming a minister because I was called to be a minister and ‘I’m becoming a minister because I have failed in my business and profession.’

What is your own concept of ministry?

The Bible says “and Samuel was ministering before the Lord.” The Psalmist says “praise ye the Lord O ye servants of the Lord who stand by night at the table of the Lord to minister.” To minister means to stand before the Lord.
My own concept of ministry is service. Some people have the concept of born to rule. My own concept is that if you are a leader in the ministry, you are born to serve.  If you see ministry as an avenue to rule certain people or you want to be a leader by fire by force, you are in a wrong profession. Ministry is about service. We are the Levites who stand on the sides of the tabernacle where we serve God. When some people are called Servants of the Lord, their heads swell, but when you call them servants of people they say “what do you mean?”, whereas, we are called to also serve the people of God. Can a servant lead and can a leader be a servant? The Bible says we are royal priesthood. If we are kings, how can a king be a servant and if we are servant of the Lord, servant of who? Definitely, servant of the Lord then how do we serve the Lord if not to serve His people?
When Jesus Christ called his disciples, he called them to serve. Whatever you become in the ministry, that concept of service must never be forgotten. You are called to serve and even when you become a leader you should be a servant-leader. There are leaders who practice born-to-rule concept of ministry. It is unbiblical and it is a concept borrowed from secular society.

What is the similarity between call and ministry?

Ministry as I said is service. There is service and there is a call to do the service. The two are different. Some people would say “my ministry, my ministry.” Do I have ministry? If I have anything to say about God's service and the calling that He gave me is “my calling” not “my ministry” because I don’t own any ministry. It is not my ministry. It is His ministry and it is His service. I am just privileged to be called into the ministry to come and work in there.

Looking at ministry during the days of our forefathers in CAC compared to now, where are we lagging behind?

 The ministry in the days of our fathers is a ministry in which our fathers sold themselves out. It was like a warrior that crossed the bridge and blocked it with no thought of coming back. That is the attitude we must bring into the ministry. We must be totally sold out and be slaves of Christ for life. You are not a slave of Christ in the ministry in a situation whereby you are doing the work as if you are doing Christ a favour because you have not sold yourself out to it. Even some of them who were famous and rich like Oba I.B. Akinyele who was a king and had so many properties, yet he sold himself out to the Lord. They see the ministry as something that made their lives complete. There was no half-heartedness in their service to the Lord. They served the Lord wholeheartedly and that is not common in the ministry today.

Someone said he knew the General Superintendent of our Church, Pastor Samuel O. Oladele to be a teacher of the word and till now he is still a teacher, likewise the General Evangelist, Prophet Hezekiel O. Oladeji who has been a prophet and evangelist since God called him and he is still the same till now. However, there are ministers of God who are finding it difficult to identify or know what God has called them to do.  What is the way out for such ministers?

There is no one that God called without a clear mandate. The Bible says He has given some to be Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastors and Teachers. These ministerial gifts are giving to do the service that they were called. As a Pastor, you can’t be a Pastor without being a Teacher because as a Pastor you are home based. You are to correct, rebuke and encourage people and to do that you need the ability to teach. If you want to teach doctrine, you can’t teach what you don’t know and that is why when Paul was writing to the Ephesians he said “And He gave some Apostles, and some Prophets, and some Evangelists,” when it comes to the Pastors he didn’t say “some to be Pastors and some to be teachers.” He says in Greek that “some to be Pastors Teachers. That means you cannot be a Pastor and not be a teacher. Whereas, if you are an Evangelist you know that you are not to sit down with people, but evangelize in places. If you are a prophet, you are a truth teller, not just seeing or predicting the future. If you are called by God there is no way He will not give you what you need. Pastor Oladele is a teacher and a Pastor who has pastoral heart. You cannot force Prophet Hezekiah to be in a place without moving around for evangelism. When God calls you, you need ability and it is now left to you to discover the ability God has given to you. Comparison is the reason why many people could not discover themselves. We imagine how come someone is more famous than we are, whereas, if you stay in your call people will know you for who you are. If God has given me the ministerial gift of teaching and I prefer the prophetic line, though I might be famous, I would have abandoned my spiritual and ministerial gift, and then be imagining how God is not using me. God will not use me not because I was not called or equipped, but because I have measured or compared myself with others to the detriment of the ministry God has given to me.

There are many marriage counselors these days in the Christendom and some of them are not even pastoring any church. Where can we classify them in the five fold ministries?
There is what we called counselling Pastors. Pastors relate with sheep, they tend the sheep and when you are tending the sheep you are going to have certain gifts to relate with them, some of them will be sick physically, while some would be sick emotionally, relationally, psychologically etc. When someone is sick emotionally, you don’t just pray alone for such person because he or she also needs counseling. When some of them are sick relationally, all what they need is counseling. You cannot call an Evangelist to come and do that because they don’t stay with people. They move from place to place.
Marital counseling ministry is under pastoral gift and that is why we have pastoral counseling, pastoral care and pastoral studies at the theological seminary.

Having been a minister in Nigeria before being transferred to United Kingdom, what is your advice to ministers who always aspire to be transferred to cathedrals or abroad?

I understand this question in line with the structure of our church because you could be transferred from a small assembly to a bigger assembly. If that is what God has laid into the heart of the authority of the Church, then God is going to back you up and teach you how to do it. When you move from a smaller assembly to a bigger assembly, there would be challenges. However, if it is not a transfer you smartly or cleverly get, God will give you a backing. What God did not make, He will not back it up. If God has called you from a smaller assembly to a bigger assembly, you will find it easy. God will give you the favour, ability and wisdom to relate with people. However, if you are going there because of big salary, God knows what to do to teach someone a lesson of his life. If you are in a smaller assembly and you are faithful to God there, God is going to follow His principle to promote or elevate you. But if you are unfaithful, by coveting money and fame of bigger assembly, your sin will find you out.

What is your message to young or upcoming ministers who aspire to be reputable ministers of the gospel like Pastor Akinosun, Pastor Oladele, Prophet Hezekiah and many others?

I remember in those days when I was in CAC Theological Seminary, Ile-Ife, if you had seen Late Prophet T.O. Obadare ministering you would know he had a way he held the microphone. He didn’t hold microphone the way some of us hold it and some people copied that. They would hold microphone the way Baba Obadare used to hold it. It is not something that just started in this generation. I will advise young or upcoming ministers to “be yourself.” You are unique and you need to identify what God has given to you. Pastor Oladele has his own way of speaking, likewise the President and the General Evangelist. They don’t compare themselves with anybody and they are unique and God is using them. You are also unique, but you need to identify your uniqueness and stand by it. If you do that you will prosper, but if you want to be like any of the Babas, your season may not be like theirs. And when you want to imitate or copy them, the people of your season may reject you.
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