The role of pastors in national development is critical. Since biblical times, pastors have served as the bridge between God and his people.
Prior to their request for a king being granted by God, Samuel, the priest, led the affairs of the Israelites and continued as an advisor even when Saul was appointed as king.
In our own scenario, pastors have played and continue to play various roles to keep society on its toes. The case of a reverend minister and his outburst about wise men, ‘nyansafo mo wo he’ comes to mind. The infamous prayer for our beloved cedi, ostensibly to shore it up and the invitation of an evangelist to intercede with prayers when the national airline was in distress all buttress this assertion.
The Catholic Standard and its role in shaping our national political life is well documented in history. In the USA, the late Billy Graham was fondly known as “America’s Pastor” for his influence on Presidents and statesmen across the political divide. Such influence does not come out of the blue but through a well-thought-out personal branding and deep understanding and articulation of national issues.
Regrettably, evidence abound to suggest that the nation is breeding a new crop of pastors who can conveniently be termed as “comic pastors”. Their dressing, utterances, actions and inaction put them in the realm of comedy and magic than real pastoral work. From flying pastors to those who profess to turn into all manner of animals, to those literally carried high in chairs by their fellow men as they claim to be preaching the word of God and kicking the stomachs of pregnant women.
Now it is not uncommon to witness some men of God exchanging words with so-called local celebrities on social media and on TV and radio and in the process bruising their image and bringing the already battered pastoral image into further disrepute.
Such actions may on the surface seem to benefit these pastors in the form of publicity and visibility, but I beg to differ. The unfortunate aspect is that, as is the case of a one bad nut affecting the lot, such actions tend to lower the whole calling in the eyes of right-thinking members of society.
People have chosen comedy for a living and become the toast of us all. The Super ODs, Santos, Water Proofs, Araba Stamps, Mr Mensahs and Kohw3s served society well in their chosen profession and made us happy.
The pastoral calling is a serious business and must be seen as such. What some of our pastors are doing today is tilting too heavy on the scale towards comedy and magic than to the side of helping society to transform in the way that the 10 Commandments prescribe.
The Christian Council, Pentecostal and Charismatic and other ancillary bodies must crack the whip and bring their erring members to the narrow path.
It was not for nothing that in the days of old, the catechist also served as the village letter writer, spokesperson, advisor, disciplinarian etc. and was sometimes rewarded with products from our farms.
The challenge, however, is the freelance nature of this profession where all one requires to be a member is a so- called discrete calling by a gentle old man sitting somewhere up in the skies and not meddling in the affairs of His subjects.
The veracity of such claims is increasingly a herculean one as is being witnessed by the proliferation of quacks we see in the calling today. The reality, however, is that the state must protect the citizenry from all manner of fraudsters, including the quacks who have even caused the death of some members of our society by keeping them at prayer camps and preventing them from seeking medical attention until too late.
A couple of days ago, it was announced that Rwanda had taken the bold step to sanction some churches to bring them in line. You bet, if we were in Rwanda, pastors with the penchant for requesting women’s underwear and boxers to set ablaze and others professing to be privy to the date and time of death of the rich and famous in our society would have been called to order. But certainly not in Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana where anything goes.
Let me admit that in order to make preaching interesting and keep congregants from dozing off, a little bit of humour is permissible. However, in a situation where the men of God are meeting comedians boot for boot in their trade, then there is cause for alarm. Thankfully, being a pastor is not by coercion as it is to be a comedian. Combining both is like putting old wine in new wine skin and the results are often disastrous.