On the path of Winners
By Bayo Ogunmupe
How to become respectable
THE headline of a Time magazine cover simply read: “What’s wrong” It gives a shocking glimpse of the moral decadence in the world today. The amazing part of the article is that its portrayal of this moral decline appeared in a secular magazine, not in a religious periodical. The world is calling attention to this problem of dearth of integrity in our leaders. Our religious community faces this great credibility problem among our leaders. If we don’t arrest this situation now, it will cause more damage to this nation and retard our progress towards economic prosperity.
One of the life-changing books I have read is “The Man who could do no wrong,” by Charles Blair. The book is a literary autobiography of the author, who is a trustworthy pastor.
Dr. Blair is a man of tremendous vision who wanted to do great things for God. Unfortunately, he hired fund raisers who did not share his ethics. As a result, he was eventually indicted and convicted for fraud. What makes the book so gripping is that this outstanding pastor admitted his guilt.
But the moral from the story comes from the term: “Alarm bells should have rung when they called me the man who could do no wrong.” Blair talked about the loving-kindness relationship between him and his people. He is respected by his community which enabled him to develop a sense of invulnerability. Everything he did was right. But he set up himself for a fall by bringing people around, trusting them implicitly without checking up on their integrity. Alarm bells should have rung but Dr. Blair had felt no need to be on the alert. Not anyone of us is in a position where we can do no wrong. We should always be alert to alarm bells ringing to warn us that we may be on the edge of a disaster.
AS surely as every leader has his strengths, he also has his weaknesses. The important thing is that we discover where our cracks are so we can deal with them. Leaders are on the frontline of spiritual battle and are very susceptible to Satan’s attacks. Often, they are among his first victims. Leaders are exposed to pressures and temptations beyond the usual run of testing. Pitfalls face the unwary and traps abound even for the experienced Satan knows that if he can get the leader to fall, many followers will go scrambling after.
Leaders are to live a higher standard than followers. It is a biblical principle which must be honoured consistently. Leaders will be judged differently because their gifts and responsibilities are different. The triangle of leadership shows that followers have many options in how they live, how they spend their time and choices they make. However, the farther up you go, on that triangle, the more leadership you assume the fewer options you have. At the top you basically have no options because you are servant leader. The options decrease as your responsibilities increase.
Most people do not understand his precept. Many leaders live on the principle that the more influence they have, the more options and choices they have. They begin to live as though they are above the law. The Bible book of James highlights this truth: “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that he who teach will be judged more strictly,” James 3:1. And Jesus in Luke also states the same principle. “And from everyone who has been given much, shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more,” Luke 12: 48.
As leaders, we must remember that God has given us much, but He also requires much in return. We are not judged by the same standards as the world. We may sin as the world does, and we can certainly be forgiven as the world is, but it’s not that easy to return to our position of leadership once we have lost credibility – with others.
Some leaders do not seem to understand God’s word as it applies to forgiveness and restoration. Their attitude is that since they have asked God’s forgiveness, they have every right to return to their position and privilege. When we fall, we must go through a period of proving ourselves and regaining that precious ground of credibility. Leadership isn’t a position which one is given but position which one earns by proving faithful. Possibilities for failure abound, but mistakes can be avoided if the leader will listen to the alarm bells in his life. You will find that leaders who are effective are leaders who are disciplined in their daily lives. A disciplined daily walk with God is the best protection from falling into sin. A person of integrity is one who has established a system of values against which all life is judged. That system of values is determined by a person’s walk with God.
Our champions for today are John Franklin Enders, the American virologist who, with Frederick Robbins and Thomas Weller, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1954 for his part in cultivating the poliomyelitis virus in non tissue cultures. That was the preliminary step in the development of the polio vaccine.
Enders read English Literature at Harvard University (MA, 1922) before turning to bacterial studies there (PhD, 1930). His early researches contributed new knowledge to problems of tuberculosis, pneumonia and resistance to bacterial diseases. In 1929, he joined Harvard as an assistant in immunology, advancing to professor (1942) Harvard Medical School. He was a consultant in the U.S. War department in World War II. From 1945 to 1949, he served the U.S. Army as a consultant working on the mumps virus. Then, Enders with his coworkers Weller and Robbins began research into new methods of producing large quantities of poliomyelitis virus. However, the Enders – Weller-Robbins method of production led to the development of the Salk vaccine for polio in 1954. Similarly, their production in the 1950s of a vaccine against measles led to the development of a licensed vaccine in the USA in 1963. Much of Enders research on viruses was conducted at the Children’s Hospital in Boston where he had established a laboratory in 1946. Enders died at 88 in 1985. He was the father of modern vaccines.
For Thomas Weller, another American, a physician and co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1954; he was professor of tropical medicine at Harvard. Weller joined Enders’ laboratory at Children’s Medical Centre, Boston as assistant director (1949-55). Working with Enders and Robbins, they soon achieved the anti polio vaccine. Weller was also first (with U.S. physician Franklin Neva) to achieve the laboratory propagation of rubella virus and to isolate chicken pox virus. He died in 2008 aged 93.
In the case of Frederick Robbins, he was an American virologist who was another co-recipient of the 1954 Nobel for medicine. The trio first met in Harvard where Robbins graduated in medicine in 1940. He served in Italy and North Africa in US Army Medical Corps in World War II. He joined Enders’ laboratory in 1948 and helped solve problems of propagating viruses. He died in 2003 at the age of 86 years.