•The amazing story of Sam Adeyemi and his mission to help people discover their leadership potential
By Mike Ebonugwo
Meeting him for the first time, you are immediately struck by his uncommon humility. You feel this is at odds with the image you have nurtured in your mind of one whose prodigious accomplishments over the years should have created or given him a larger than life disposition. As one of the waves making new generation pastors in Nigeria, Sam Adeyemi needs no introduction.
The founder and head pastor of the very popular Daystar Christian Centre based in Oregun, Lagos, Nigeria and popular televangelist, motivational speaker and author of many books, Adeyemi has indeed attained the position and status of a household name.
The President of Success Power International and host of the radio and television programme, Success Power broad cast in Nigeria and several other countries, he is generally perceived as a pastor with a difference, reason being that his ecclesiastical calling has since exploded beyond the realm often associated with the clergy.
Today, his story and that of his church has changed. From being one of the pulpit-preaching and soul-winning pastors that populate our land and world, Adeyemi has grown to become a much sought after speaker in churches, seminars and conferences globally. This came to be so when he ventured into an unfamiliar but worthy territory to enable him impact significantly on his generation, using acquired knowledge and his own success story as a guide.
Under his guidance, Daystar has grown to become a church on the rise and rise, with a unique selling point anchored on the vision of training and raising role models, transformed individuals who will become useful members of their society. And over time they decided to up the ante: to produce a new generation of leaders. This did not happen by accident: various platforms were set up to accomplish this.
According Pastor Adeyemi: “We believe that it’s with God’s inspiration that we’re doing what we do. .. Our purpose has always been the same: To raise role models in the society; raise people who would be examples. Practically everything we do in our church is about grooming people; it’s about helping people to find their purpose. We help people to break loose from self-centredness; focus on other people’s needs.
“We encourage the acquisition of skills; we encourage our church members to get education, develop the use of their minds, develop expertise; learn to do their work in excellence, all targeted towards service. That has been our church’s focus: to engage the community in the practical way. Our church focus is more than what we do during church services. We tell ourselves that our church services are merely leadership conferences; they’re places where we come,… we chat then go out to meet people’s practical needs out there in the world.”
It all began when the church set up a leadership school in 2002. “Given that leadership is our berth,…, it didn’t take long for us to realise how huge there is a need for leadership, be it in our country, in our continent… Africa is reputed for producing some of the worst leaders in the world; the worst quality leaders in the world.
“Here in Nigeria, we know it. So, somewhere along the line, we asked ourselves: so if there’s this huge area of need how come it’s not part of our school curriculum? Why do we expect people to give what they do not have ? We allow people to get into leadership positions and when they mess up, then we complain, grumble. What structure is there train people because leadership is a skill”.
Waxing tutorial, he said though there presently exists degree programmes in leadership, it is more than an academic thing but it’s supposed to be part and parcel of our upbringing and training. According to him: “Two major things make up a leader: character and competence. So where’s that deliberate grooming of character and deliberate cultivation of skills and expertise for leadership?”
He said it was based on this consideration that the church set up the leadership school in 2002, adding that about 30,000 people had come through the school since then. “We teach the kind of courses they teach in business schools around the world,” adding that there had been amazing testimonials that the graduates of the school and the certificates they received are recognised and accepted by majority of employers.
He informed that five years after the school began with a measure of success, the church decided to chart a new course by starting an annual leadership conference which he noted with satisfaction has taken the church to new and enviable height. “The conference has been growing, should I say, in leaps and bounds over the years since we started. People come from even outside Nigeria to attend these conferences.
After the conference, thousands of people buy the audio and video formats of the messages; we also give some of them out to the media. Each year we get some amazing stories from participants on how they have been able to apply the things they learned from the conference to their lives. Most of those who come to attend the conference are graduates of our leadership school. We recognise them specially at the conference,” he informed.
The ninth edition of the Excellence in Leadership Conference, with the theme: “Maximising Your Influence”, is holding on November 2-4, 2016 at the church premises in Oregun, Lagos. “It’s a place where we bring people who are accomplished in different fields. We want them to inspire emerging leaders. We want them to share their stories; we want them to act as role models to the younger generation,” he said.
Apart from Pastor Adeyemi and his wife, Nike, the roll-call of other selected role models scheduled to speak at the event included men and women with intimidating profiles as great achievers.
They are Bill Hybels, a renowned US-based pastor, author, motivational speaker and founder of The Global Leadership Summit with a commitment to develop and mentor leaders worldwide; Mrs Folorunsho Alakija, Nigeria’s foremost business woman who is also reputed to be the world’s richest woman of African descent; Julian Kyula, Julian Kyula is founder and Group CEO of Mobile Decisioning Company,
MODE, a Nairobi-based global financial technology company; Agu Irukwu, Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, Jesus House, London who was chosen as “Britain’s Most Inspirational Black Person”. Others are Mo Abudu, a popular Nigerian talk show host, TV producer, media personality, human resources management consultant, entrepreneur and philanthropist; Abimbola Olashore, an engineer, accountant and former MD of Lead Bank and Chude Jideonwu, a young Nigerian lawyer, award-winning journalist and media entrepreneur.
As models of excellence, the selected speakers are expected to inspire the audience with their life stories laced with the secrets of their successes. But the underlying objective is to inspire a new generation of leaders because of the flawed leadership concept that currently operates in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.
According to Pastor Adeyemi: “Leadership in Africa is tied to trying to occupy positions. So, when you refer to leaders, say in Nigeria, everybody’s mind goes to the people in government. But the discussion world-wide has moved from this concept of leadership because leadership happens at all levels. Where do you put the massive influence that parents have on their children. Or the massive influence that teachers have on their students. World-wide leadership has been reduced to the ability to influence one or more people to achieve great goals.
“Secondly, our concept of leadership in our part of the world makes the leader superior to the people he is leading which defeats the essence of leadership. The essence of leadership is not forcing people……, the essence of leadership is service; it’s meeting needs; it’s solving people’s problems… That is the whole essence of leadership. The true mark of real leaders is sacrifice and to provide service. Being a leader does not make you superior to the people you are leading….
“Our objective in the conference of this year is to make each person realise that we’re not as helpless or powerless as we think we are. We all have capacities to influence …..;we want to teach people how to do it”. He used himself as an example to buttress this point, saying that as a teenager, he was an introvert and could hardly volunteer to lead any group.
The turning point for him came when he was given a book on leadership to read by an elderly pastor in his church. “The author contested old theories from Socrates, Aristotle, you know, that stated that only few people are born to lead and every other person is born to follow. The man said the syllabus has changed. Every human being is created in the image of God and has leadership potential,” he said.
As soon as he began to apply the leadership principles, including cultivating new habits, the result was amazing: I just literally floated to the top of the leadership in our church. It worked. That’s why for me today, there’s passion global-wise to help people discover their leadership potentials.
“We don’t want Nigerians to remain helpless; we need a new generation of leaders; we need leaders that have conscience. That’s what we’re doing in this conference. So we decided that the best time to influence the President is long before he becomes the president, to intervene at that stage when somebody’s values are still being shaped. So that is the best time to talk to him or her. So our target is to focus on the younger generation. The leaders now are seriously restricted by the system and the people around them.”