Shining a light on leadership

Friday July 10, 2015 Written by Bishop Tutai Pere Published in Church Talk

Kare e rauka I te au Arataki I te akakite I te Mataara, mari ua e kua kite ratou I te Mataara’

“Thy Word is a lamp under my feet and a light unto my path…E lamepa Taau Tuatua I toku nei vaevae, e turama no toku nei arataa” – Psalm/Salamo 119: 105

Tour guides are good at what they do because they have already taken tours to certain places and have plenty of knowledge about those places.

They know, for example all about historic landmarks, their significance, the stories and people associated with those stories. 

That is also why a young child is more confident at the hands of his/her own dad or mum at journeys that they have not been on before. They trust them, being older and wiser, to know where they lead. 

I have a niece called Terangi who lived on Rarotonga with her Kiwi husband Dean for some years back in the 1980s. They returned to New Zealand to start and raise a young family. 

Some 15 to 20 years later, with three grown-up handsome boys, they returned just this week as a family to the place where mum and dad had already lived before. 

The night of their arrival was all about asking questions of certain people they had known, the places they once knew and, what changes had occurred since they were last on Rarotonga. 

The open sea is like home to someone whose family’s livelihood depends upon his many fishing trips beyond the reefs and back. 

When I think about this I recall my year of trawling experience in 1970 together with the late Dr Terepai Maoate, who I considered a real champion and master of the open sea fishing all around Aitutaki, whatever the time of day or night and whatever the conditions.

There is the old saying that some are born leaders and some are made leaders while others have leadership thrust upon them. There are those naturally gifted and talented young minds that just pick up any trick of the game with no sweat at all. Some take more time to learn, while sometimes we wonder why in the first place we put somebody in a position where he/she has absolutely no clue about it at all. 

We find ourselves in many different kinds of situations and  often it is a result of the wrong calls, reasoning and choices. 

Sometimes leaders get pushed into their positions by others. Some take leadership for selfish or uncertain reasons, while others know exactly why they are in for at such a time. 

Joseph, son of Jacob who later became Prince of Egypt, knew exactly why at the cruel hands of his 10 older brothers, he ended up being Prime Minister over Egypt. It is revealed in his most famous saying: ‘for God did send me before you to preserve life’ (Genesis 45: 5). Esther, a young Hebrew slave beauty became the number one choice to be Queen and wife to the great King Ahasueru of Persia, yet needed to put her life on the line to rescue over 70,000 Jews from a mass murder plot schemed and designed by Haman the Agagite. 

With these powerful words from her uncle Mordecai: “who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”, Esther accepted the challenge, thus making her most powerful confession and commitment: ‘and so will I go unto the king, which is not according to the law, and if I perish, I perish’ (Esther 4: 14 – 16). 

Moses, a Hebrew boy was placed in a basket and set afloat on the Nile River of Egypt to escape the slaughter of newly-born young Hebrew boys up to the age of two and a half years, a move instigated by King Pharaoh of Egypt. Picked up at the river bank and raised by the Princess of Egypt, Moses chose not to remain a privileged son of a Pharaoh but identified himself more as a Hebrew slave together with his own Hebrew people. He did not know he was God’s choice as leader to deliver the Israelites from their taskmasters and slavery in Egypt. During his 40 years as a shepherd in Midian, God prepared him well to lead and deliver the Children of Israel from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land Canaan (Exodus 4: 19 – 20). 

All of the above characters, Joseph, Esther and Moses are few examples of leadership quality called and developed by God. There can never be no mistake about any Leader or leadership that is groomed, developed and always trusting in God’s divine guidance.

The longest Psalm in the Bible is a song about the priority of the Word of God. With 176 verses, Psalm 119 holds high the words and wisdom of God and convinces us to treasure it more than anything else in life. 

Why is this challenge so crucial for us? Leaders in our world today face two realities:

1.  Change happens faster than ever, so leaders must remain adaptable. 

2.  2, We need timeless values more than ever, so leaders must remain principle-driven. Psalm 119 provides a roadmap for getting the wisdom, values, and principles we need to lead effectively. Consider now what Psalm 119 teaches about adopting God’s Word as our source for leadership principles. Our leadership will:

•   Be blessed (vss 1, 2)

• Remain pure and ethical (vss. 9 – 11)

•  Be strengthened and revitalized (vss 28, 149, 154 – 159)

•  Insightfully answer criticism (vs 42)

•Enjoy liberty or freedom (vs 45)

•    Gain wise counsel when needed (vs 66)

•  Remain steady even when afflicted or challenged (vss. 67 – 72, 92)

•  Display more insight than our teachers (vss 99, 100)

• Be enlightened and intuitive (vss 105, 130)

•  Have a reliable guide even for new issues (vss 129, 160)

•  Enjoy inward peace, calm and poise (vs 165)

•  Get divine help (vss 173 – 175)

What of our three pillars leadership concepts of today - traditional, religious and political? I was most impressed by how our Ui Arikis have worded the three pillars in our local Maori language – Ui Ariki (House of Ariki), Tama Ua (Religious first son) and Tama Peniamina (Political second son). 

I recollected and recapitulated in my message on the day how our Ui Ariki of old were also instrumental in the propagation of the new faith Christianity in and amongst the many tribes and indigenous people of the Cook Islands. 

Tamatoa Ariki in Aitutaki, Rongomatane Ariki in Atiu and the neighbouring islands of Mauke and Mitiaro, Numangatini Ariki in Mangaia, Makea Nui Tinirau Ariki in Te Au O Tonga, Tinomana Enuarurutini in Puaikura, Pa ma Kainuku in Takitumu. 

Each and every island has a story to tell of their Ui Arikis and Aronga Mana. Their mana (power and authority) as leaders at the time helped persuade the people to lay to rest their weapons and warring and heathen lifestyles to hearken and take heed of the missionaries’ messages of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. A task which would probably have been more difficult for the early missionaries had it not been for the tremendous influence and persuasion of the Ui Ariki of the day. 

By the same token, both the church and politics of today should always be reminded of the part that our Ui Ariki played by not only embracing and treating them like real sons but also establishing them on Ui Ariki title lands.

Our 50th anniversary celebration this year is therefore not only about self-government, but a long walk down memory lane, reminiscing about our many mothers and fathers who at one time or another took up the role of leadership be they in our Ui Ariki or Aronga Mana (traditional sector), Tama Ua (religious sector) or Tama Peniamina (political sector). 

We also see what seems to be another fast growing and developing sector which I will call, Tama Kimi Puapinga (business sector), another ‘son’ our Ui Ariki need to be mindful of, and to acknowledge and uphold. 

All in all, as we look all around the world we see the very frightening sight of the socio-economic and political systems of major world-ruling powers collapsing, a warning signal and wake-up call for man to return to some solid Biblical godly and divine principles. 

All the high pillars of our Cook Islands society need to wake up and stay firm right where they are, as their US equivalents were back in the days when ‘In God We Trust’ really meant something.

Now that country has been taken over by another anti-god and anti-Christ movement epitomised by the motto, ‘In Humanism We Trust’. As a consequence they are now suffering and paying the price of lawlessness, ungodliness.

Finally, Israel’s greatest King David reminds us in Psalm 127: 1, “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain”.

As we gladly and joyously receive the many thousands of outer islands people and overseas guests arriving for our 50th anniversary celebration, let us in all our singing, dancing, interaction and participation, be constantly reminded to always ‘Look to the Rock from whence we are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence we are digged…to Abraham and Sarah…whom I called, blessed, and increased” (Isaiah 51; 1 & 2).  

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever” (Hebrews 13: 8). 

Kia mataora, kia manuia, kia pereperekavana, kia tiama e kia tapu I ta tatou au Tamataoraanga katoatoa – Te Atua te Aroa!

Bishop Tutai Pere 

Apostolic Church

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