Pastor Bisi Akande is the Pastor in charge of Youth Province 1 and Assistant Pastor in Charge of Region 35. Recently, he spoke with The Beautiful Day Testimonial on the leadership role model the young ones should emulate. Akande, who is also the Executive Assistant to the Continent 3 Overseer, describes the leadership qualities of the General Overseer of RCCG, Pastor E. A. Adeboye, as a rare one that can only be found in the Bible. Excerpts.
Can you tell us more about yourself?
My name is Bisi Akande. I’m called the Inspirer, and that’s because as a lifeline or as my life goes, I inspire individuals to be more and to live better, and that’s because I strongly believe that everything rises and falls on leadership. I am a pastor by calling and have done that now for over two decades by the grace of God. I have pastored in several parts of this country. I started my pastoring assignment in Otta Ogun state, then I moved to Lagos for about 3 years; the part that is closer to Ogun state – that was in Dalumo Alakuko, where I pastored RCCG Jesus Assembly. And we were very fortunate. It grew and within a year, it became an Area Headquarters and I was appointed as the pastor in charge of the Area. From there, I moved back to Otta. I was in Otta for a little while, probably 3 months or thereabout at RCCG Mount Zion. From there, I was privileged to move to Abuja and I had the privilege of pastoring RCCG Central Parish as pastor in charge of the Area for some time. That journey took me to Resurrection Area, where I spent about a year and three months. The experience there was quite fantastic; that was where I began to realize on a stronger level that I needed to build my leadership capacity because I was coming from a place that was really set with great people, and coming into this new place, I was more local and I needed to move the level of operation there. My leadership was really tested there, but the good thing is that it paid off, because we completed the building project that we started to about 80% before I left. And when I left, I was moved to Christ the King in Apo, close to the legislative quarters and that was where I was appointed Pastor in charge of Zone. After nine months, I was moved to Lagos again.
My journey has been short short journeys. I was moved to Lagos and I was privileged to pastor the RCCG Dunamis Assembly in Lekki, well it was in Victoria Island. We moved it to Lekki when I was there; we bought a land and we were able to build a structure there. After that, the year of the completion of the project, I was moved to RCCG His Majesty Place to be the Assistant Pastor in Charge of Province 1. Again, I spent one year, there. After one year, I went to Lagos Province 11 as Assistant Pastor in Charge of Province. This time, I was in Root of David Parish in Lekki, exciting experience there, too; and of course, again, I spent one year there. Then I was moved to be the Pastor in Charge of Youth Province 1. Currently, I serve as the Assistant Pastor in Charge of Region 35, supporting and serving with Pastor Belemina Obunge as we steer the ship of the region, which had maybe like 8 provinces when we started, but today, have about 14 provinces.
Can you share with us your salvation experience?
Okay, my salvation experience was kind of interesting for me, and that was because as a young man, I did what most young men normally do; I had a little bit of a drinking problem. I was drinking alcohol and I was smoking. I had just graduated from school, and I remember that before I went for my youth service, I was talking to a very close friend of mine who is now in Jos. His name is Uche and I jokingly told him, I didn’t understand what I was saying really, but I think that maybe God was at work. I jokingly told him that maybe I would just go and get born again and he laughed and said, “well, it would pain me”. He said it in Pidgin English and we smiled and I left. I went for my youth service, he didn’t go for youth service then because of some issues. I served in Enugu by the way. While in Enugu, of course, I did what most young men would do; I played around, partied around, and all that. But I made up my mind at some point that I wasn’t going to smoke again, it was a personal decision. Like, my will was that I’m not smoking again, and for six months of my youth service, I didn’t smoke any cigarette. I had another friend called Shola. Shola, too, made the same decision with me. We didn’t touch any cigarette until Uche came to visit us. When he came, he took the first one, took the second one, took the third one, and two days after, Shola and I went back to smoking.
After my youth service, I came to Otta to meet my dad. Of course, my dad didn’t know I was smoking or drinking; my dad never smoked, but he was drinking. I had this belief that if you eat and don’t smoke, it would not digest. Really, I smoke and then I eat and I smoke, then it goes down. One day after I had eaten at the house, I went to somewhere to smoke. When I finished smoking, I was coming back and there was this new church called Abundant Life Parish Otta of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. It was a small parish that I had been told earlier to come and see the pastor because I just graduated and needed a job and he was working somewhere. But as I was going to pass, I looked in and it was like a beer parlour. Really, the place was like a beer parlour. And inside was this tall man and lo and behold, it was the man that I was supposed to go and see. I walked into the place that evening, it was during an evening service. This was 1994. He was sitting down there and he was talking. I didn’t know what he was saying, but I knew that I sat down there, and suddenly along the line when he finished talking, I got up from my seat and I went to the front, myself and one other lady; I don’t know where she is right now, but she is a woman older than I am. We went there and that was how I said the sinner’s prayer and that was how I became a member of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. That was how I joined the church, that was how I became a worker, that was the day I joined everything I could do. I joined baptismal class that same day, and that was the last day I ever took a stick of cigarette in my life. So, what my personal will could not do for me, meeting Jesus did it for me. This is over 26 years now and I have not tasted or touched alcohol, in fact the smell of cigarette irritates me right now, seriously.
And your perception about digestion…?
That falsehood, that lie of the devil, has gone away.
You have been a Personal Assistant to the Continental Overseer, Continent 3, Pastor J. F. Odesola. What can you say about him?
Well, if you ask somebody to talk about his father, or talk about himself, you might likely think that the person will give you the best side of the person, but I say this before God, Pastor Odesola is the best person anyone can work with, and grow under. He’s a fantastic leader that anybody can learn under and grow under. He’s a mentor, he’s a teacher, he’s a loving personality, he’s somebody that when you work with him, you will be happy that you are working with him, any day, and any time. One very great thing is the fact that I have worked with him now at least for years as PA. Of course, I even work right now as his Executive Assistant for the Continent. But the thing is that, even for this number of years that I have worked for him, I am yet to find one day when he was really upset with me. And it’s not because I have not dropped the ball. I know I have dropped the ball a couple of times; I’m only getting better but he’s always encouraging you and trusting you further. He’s not the type of person to get upset, I am praying for that grace, that I would be able to work with people and not get upset with them and keep pushing them on.
Of course, that’s one thing he has done, he’s that kind of a person, he’s very fantastic, he’s very loving, he’s a hard worker. I can’t tell you how many times we had to carry massive files on our way to the airport, and he has to sign all the files by himself. I can’t tell you how he works, he works till he enters the airplane, and many times people would think that “oh, he has travelled; now you have rest”. And I tell them that the truth of the matter is that when he’s out of the country, I work more, because from there he will call regularly. Pastor Odesola can call you at 1am and he will be expecting you to be up and about to do what he needs you to do. You will do it and you will be happy you did it, that’s the good part of it. If you ask the wives of those who work with Pastor Odesola, they will all give you good testimonies about him being caring because he will check on you and check on your wife. I mean he would call your wife to check on her. I mean this is somebody that will support anything that you are doing, support anything your wife is doing, support anything your children are doing, he will go the extra mile and extra length to ask about who is this and what is happening here, and he will put himself at stake.
I remember one time I was actually looking for money, I was planning that my daughter would go to study abroad. I just told him that I’m not doing it again, and he said maybe it’s because of the money that I’m going to pay for it. I said, “no, sir. It’s not just because of the money, it’s because of the continuity”, and he said “okay”. He was willing to do anything to help. So, in our house, he’s like a dad to everybody. He’s just that kind of man, and I’m sure if you ask other people that work with him, they’ll tell you how fantastic this personality has been in touching their lives. Of course, he’s a very great mentor to me when it comes to the area of marriage. I mean, you see his family very intact, his wife always there, the children are by the grace of God proof to be very disciplined. So, I think, there is a lot to say about him. Maybe one day, we will have the time to talk about it.
As a John Maxwell Leadership Coach, how have you been able to impart this knowledge in people that come your way?
It’s John Maxwell Team, but right now, it’s called the Maxwell Leadership Certified Team. There was a rebranding that took place that most people don’t know. I like the world to know that I’m actually a Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach. Apart from that, I’m also a Coach with Lanre Olusola Coaching Academy, and I’m also privileged to be a Coach at the Neuron Encoding Society in America and a couple of other bodies. But basically, as a Leadership Coach, I have been helped by God and like I said in the beginning, I’m someone who believes that everything rises and falls on leadership. The truth is that Jesus Christ said something; he said, “can a blind lead the blind?” Most people will tell you that the answer is “no, that a blind cannot lead the blind”. But that’s not true. If you read down the line, Jesus Christ said, “will they not both fall into a ditch?” In other words, the blind must have led the blind that is why both of them are in a ditch.
So, wherever a people find themselves in life, it’s subject to whoever led them. Who you follow will determine where your final destination would be. Your destination is not the same as your destiny; your destiny is what God plans for you, but your destination is where you went based on the person that led you. So, I believe strongly in that, and because of that, I’ve done quite a number of things trying to help people by leading.
Number one, I do the best that I can to be an example of good leadership. I follow leaders like Pastor E.A. Adeboye, I follow their principles, I follow their virtues. I follow people like John Maxwell. I follow leaders who have great understanding of these things and I learn from them, and I try to be an example of leadership like Paul said to Timothy, “be an example of the believers”. So, I try to be an example of a leader as much as I can.
Asides from being an example, I also teach and coach people in the area of leadership. I have a couple of programmes that we are privileged to organise, like the Advanced Leadership Conference. It’s gradually gaining momentum as a national programme where we bring leaders together and we train them to lead. We have had the likes of Poju Oyemade, Jerry Eze, Pastor Peter Amenkhienan, Pastor Funso Odesola, Niyi Adesanya, Yemi Adedeji, my friend in London and many others who have come to impact lives. We have them come to impact knowledge in this space.
By the grace of God, I don’t give the older generation the norm, I also think about the teenagers, too. So, I run something that is called The Global Teens Leadership Fellowship, where every year, we bring young people together, teenagers precisely under 19. We bring them together and we teach them values in leadership. Currently, I think we have graduated over 500 of them in that space. There’s also something else I do once in a year, it’s called a Global Youth Initiative (GYI) championed by the Maxwell Leadership Certified Team. It brings teenagers together and we talk to them about how they can stand up and lead and be the best of leaders. In the last couple of years, we have trained nothing less than 2,000 young people. We go to schools too, and we do the same thing in schools. For the schools, we have gone to Redeemer’s High School and Model College in Ojo. We must have reached nothing less than 5,000 teenagers in that space.
Every year, I run the Exchange, which a lot of people don’t know about, and that’s because we have kept it close. But we are hoping that in this 2023, we are likely going to open it bigger. So far, what we did was to have just 50 young people. We bring them together, pay for their accommodation, feed them and then get them to interact with industry leaders who will now talk to them about what is going on in their industries. Last year, we had the MD of Stanbic IBTC who came here and interacted with them and he has also been able to impact the lives of those of them that reach out to him, to help them one way or the other. So, these are the things that we do. We also have some other programs through the Redeemer’s Business School and through some other organizations where I collaborate with my friends and my colleagues, and the Maxwell Leadership Team.
That’s awesome! Daddy G.O is an incontrovertible leader, and he will be eighty-one this year. From your perceptive as a certified Leadership Coach, what can you say about his leadership style and qualities?
Actually, talking about Pastor E.A Adeboye and his leadership qualities is a very tough one, because in my view, his leadership is not in the books. If you want to read about his leadership, then you need to go and read the Bible. That’s my personal view about his leadership. You need to go and read the Bible. All the laws of leadership that I know, he embodies them. There are leadership preachers, there are leadership speakers. Pastor E.A. Adeboye is a leadership practitioner, he practices leadership at its highest. He leads like Jesus, that’s the way I see it. I don’t want to begin to talk about the qualities, but I just want to say that every quality that you see and think that leadership has, he already has them. So, that’s what I will say about his leadership.
What specific leadership value should upcoming leaders imbibe from the life of this great man?
I would say, one, integrity. Too many people are falling out of integrity and that’s really not right. The young people need to understand the power of integrity. We have seen many people drop the ball in the area of character and integrity, and so people are picking that up. But the truth is that you can lead without character, but you cannot be a leader that people want to follow without character. If you are a leader that people would want to follow, not a leader that people have to follow, then character is very important. We can’t play with that. I think that’s one thing I would say every leader: upcoming leaders, current generational leaders, outgoing leaders, everyone who is a leader, must have is character. Jesus put it very clearly when he said, “let your “yes” be “yes” and let your “no” be “no””. Just be real and be yourself. Duplicity will not help anyone. Consistency in the place of character will help any leader and make him/her really a leader that will cross generations.
Leading a multitude of people could be challenging. How do you think Daddy Adeboye has been able to do this seamlessly?
Lead one as if you are leading everyone. The truth is that you don’t need a multitude, you need one. If you lead one well, you can lead many. Lead the multitude the way you lead one person; if you lead just one person, you will treat every person the same way, so everybody fits you. The basic thing that I would say is just lead one, lead one person as if they are a multitude, then you will be leading a multitude like it’s just one person. That’s what makes leadership. You lead at home as a husband, you lead your children, using the same standard you use to lead your wife. The same thing when you are leading the servant in the house, the same way leading the person that is high up there, the same way leading the person that is low there. If you lead one person the way you lead a multitude, then you will be leading a multitude the way you lead one person. That’s the way I see that Daddy G.O has led. He has led everybody without differentiating who is who.
What price does quality leadership require?
When I teach leadership, I normally say leadership begins with you. Leadership demands sacrifice; the greatest price of leadership is a gift of yourself. Every leader gives nothing to the people that he leads more than he gives himself. That’s the greatest gift that he gives, but the challenge is, are you going to be giving an authentic you? Or a fake you? So, the greatest price of leadership is the ability to give your authentic self to the people so that when they see you in private and they see you in public, they are seeing the same person.
What are the danger signs that a focused leader should avoid?
That’s a very funny question, but the moment you discover that you are having an issue with character, then you need to really do something strongly about it. You can drop the ball with your competence and pick it up again. But if you drop the ball with character, followers don’t find it very easy to forgive; the memory of your wrong will always be kept, so it’s always better to keep your character and that will sustain your place of leadership.
Is anyone born as a leader? And what makes anyone to be a leader?
Anybody is born, whether you are a leader or you are not a leader, you are born. But in my view, everyone was born with leadership capacity and insight. It is growing that leadership capacity that makes them leaders. Why did I say everyone was born with a leadership capacity? God said, “let us make man in our image, after our likeness, let them have dominion”. Dominion means being in charge. So, what God is saying is that every man I made has the capacity to be in charge, but whether you are in charge or you are under charge, is determined by how you grow yourself. Jesus was born in a manger but he grew himself. He was in the house of a carpenter, hitting the nails together, and by virtue of what he was doing, he learnt leadership; he learnt, he grew. In fact, the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ grew in stature, grew in favour with God and in favour with man. He grew, so everyone has that capacity; to be a leader, you need to be in the place of growth.
Now let me close with this one. Leadership begins with you. What does that mean? You need to know yourself. If you have a problem, know yourself, know your strength. Leadership begins with you so grow yourself, you can’t stay where you are. Life is not cast in cement so you have to be free enough to grow yourself, and of course, when you grow yourself, because it begins with you, you must apply yourself correctly. If you grow yourself and apply yourself correctly, you will be adding value to your generation and make a difference anywhere you go.
Okay, thank you, sir! You have tactically answered every other question that we would have asked.
Thank you very much, sir.