These Are Their Stories – Owen

Throughout the course of this year, we at Freedom to Lead will be intermittently featuring segments called “These Are Their Stories.” We will be telling stories of men and women throughout Asia and Africa who have been impacted by God’s work in their lives and leadership through Freedom to Lead.

In this first edition of “These Are Their Stories” we hear from “Owen” (not his real name). Owen is a young leader in his late 30s who just started participating in Freedom to Lead’s The Garden Project. He and his wife have 4-year old twin girls. Owen works with the Church of the Nazarene among his people in Zimbabwe. He tells these stories in his own words.

In November 2018 I had the opportunity to attend a training workshop on leadership which was conducted by the Freedom to Lead International® (FTL). The FTL team took us on a one-week intensive leadership training program which helped me have a new perspective on leadership and how I can influence my world. Delivery and presentation of the lessons was storycentric whereby a biblical text was taken from the Bible and lessons/concepts were thereafter applied from the text to real life experiences.

From that workshop on Leadership for a Healthy Church my mind has been enlightened to a new way of effectively leading people to a living a fulfilling life; a life that has been God destined and is full of His presence. This is a life that is characterized by fully yielding to God’s will and purpose for our lives such that we allow Him to work in and through us.

Beginning at Home

As the saying goes, “charity begins at home,” My first port of call was to share with my wife everything that I learned during the workshop. The principles were so simple yet profound, as I later on realized during this time of reflection and discussion. As the head of my family, I am applying the principles of good leadership to my wife and to my children to ensure that each one of them sees the possibilities of who God created them to be.

To the Local Church

I am a pastor of a local church in Zimbabwe. As the pastor, I have realized that I must train the church leadership and the entire congregation on many aspects of the church. However, through the lessons learned from FTL, my perspective on how I should handle the gaps has shifted. I learned the principles of the “rice field” and “water pumps” during the course. A rice field is nurtured to grow and produce results, whose yield or produce is entirely based on God’s will and purpose. On the other hand, a water pump kind of leadership would continuously be pushing the people being led. This has the negative effect of making them feel inadequate and can potentially cause them to give up on the possibility of achieving anything. Hence, the style of leadership I am now building and nurturing is that of the rice field. I am practicing the principle by being exemplary to the people in the local church board and to the entire congregation.

In the few months since I participated in this program I have carried out both formal lessons to the leadership of the church as well as more informal lessons with the rest of the congregation, using materials, knowledge, and wisdom gained from this FTL workshop.

Through FTL, I have learned — and am still learning —the joys and advantages of servant leadership as opposed to having a “big boss” mentality. I try to give my two junior pastors opportunities to exercise their God given gifts without feeling threatened. Their suggestions and contributions are welcomed to encourage their full participation and involvement, which will inevitably lead to their growth.

And Beyond

As I prayed about it, God put it in my heart to record myself teaching FTL materials. I have come up with 7-minute recordings of the FTL materials that I am sending to my friends to listen. I also have a Facebook account from where I intend to start posting some of the recordings I have made of the lessons. With the rapid global developments in technology, I have realized that with audio and video recorded lessons I have been able to reach out to many people who are not in my vicinity. These lessons are also very short and exciting such that they do not take too much of anyone’s bandwidth

In January of 2019, I had the opportunity of meeting about 40 pastors and church leaders for a formal session on Leadership using FTL materials. From the feedback I received from all the pastors and leaders it was truly a valuable lesson. It brought a different perspective to their way of leading the church and their way of participating to what the Holy Spirit is doing in the life of the church in general.

Currently I am running a program for training pastors in Zimbabwe for the Diploma in Theology/Ministry. I work with a team of 4 other lecturers. First and foremost I have purposed to train the other trainers the concepts learned at FTL. As a team leader, I have also modeled the concepts in the style of leadership. Everyone is involved in decision-making and in executing them. Everyone is an equal participator and contributor to the success of the training program. Currently we have in our database about 34 students studying to be pastors within our district to whom we are exposing to lessons learned from FTL.

A Personal Mission

In conclusion, I would say taking part in the Freedom to Lead program is helping me to become a good and effective leader who is not only concerned about my own growth and development but also that of the people I lead. Leadership is not about being a “one man show” but one of moving in one direction with all.

I do realize that the work on leadership development is a process and not an event and by the grace of God it is my purpose and desire to continue on this road. My passion is to be used of God to train a lot of leaders and pastors into the ministry of the Word. I believe the only way the church will be able to fulfill the Great Commission is by training more pastors and in good administration. FTL is the much-needed iron-sharpening tool that I desperately needed. I look forward to further time with the FTL team over these next several years.

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