Formal education will not cure ills in church or society

Education CS Amina Mohammed and her counterpart Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang. [File, Standard]
My strong admiration for Rwanda is not any matter of conjecture. Under the leadership of President Paul Kagame, Rwanda has become a veritable proof that Africans are not dimwits whose only capacity is to destroy whatever they oversee.

With strong but incremental steps, the nation has been structured into functioning systems where almost everything works and works well. Thus, in an apparent move to bring order and accountability to the religious sector, it is reported that a new law will require potential pastors to possess at least a degree before they can plant a church.

This, after a recent swoop that saw hundreds of churches shut down for various reasons, including noise pollution. It is an undeniable fact that all is not well in the House of God. Across Africa – and the world over – scandals have been a serious blight on the already scarred body of Christ. But to imagine that in academic credentials lies the solution, could be a misdiagnosis.

Reminds me of a pun, by an unknown writer, about an employment agency report to Jesus on the suitability of His chosen disciples. Having taken the 12 candidates through thorough scrutiny, personal interviews, and vocational aptitude tests, the recruitment experts disqualified almost all of them.

The report read in part: Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale.

We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew had been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus have radical leanings, and they both registered a high score on the maniac-depressive scale. One of the candidates, however, shows great potential.

He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind, and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious, and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man.

The fact is, whereas formal education is great for exposing and expanding one’s capacity to deliver in any industry, a great number of successful people in business and leadership have had no formal education at all or have been primary or high school dropouts. Likewise, in spiritual circles, some of the most powerful preachers have been unschooled. In fact, one of the hallmarks of Jesus eleven disciples was that, though unschooled, they turned the world upside down.

Interestingly, there is a new and growing movement known as unschooling. Unlike homeschooling, unschooling is an educational approach in which a child is allowed to pursue their own path of interest with little or no basic education.

In Malaysia, for example, Karen Leong was taken out of the formal education system after Class Two when the parents noticed her lack of interest in her classes. At age 11, Leong developed interest in cake design, which she eventually pursued commercially. Now, at only 19, Leong is a successful custom cake designer with her thriving business.

On the other hand, some of the world’s worst leaders, both in and outside church, have been men and women of great learning. For example, America’s prestigious Ivy League universities have produced some of the greatest business leaders, entrepreneurs and politicians. But, they have also produced murderers, terrorists, embezzlers, and other criminals.

Jeffrey Skilling was the celebrated CEO that soared Enron profits through multi-billion dollar sale of gas and electricity. But, the earnings turned out to be illusory – the result of a massive fraud and conspiracy orchestrated by Skilling. He was an alumnus of Harvard Business School, Class of 1979.

Likewise, Amy Bishop was a Harvard PhD in genetics and taught biology at The University of Alabama. In February 2010, while attending a faculty meeting at Alabama, she stood up, pulled out a handgun and began shooting randomly. Three people died and three others were seriously injured.

The truth is, many of those who defraud or mislead people, whether in church, business, or government, are individuals that must be dealt with according to existing laws of the land. To use them to generalize or stereotype any group of people is discriminative and may not solve the real problem. That is why, whether in Kenya or in Rwanda, genuine preachers must be allowed to fulfill their calling while criminals are taken to where they belong – behind bars with other felons.

- The writer is the Presiding Bishop of Christ is the Answer Ministries. [email protected]

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Education CS Amina MohammedBelio Kipsang