Mensa Otabil: 38 years a transformational teacher of life, 63 years of living it well

This past Sunday, Pastor Mensa Otabil was not in the country and so was unable to be present in Church; but in true ‘Otabil style’, he made sure we were not left out on our Sunday dose of the word. 

Always a man of the times; we were served a virtual sermon, which was part 3 of his ongoing series on Living in the Spirit.

Like the savvy teacher that he is, Pastor Otabil had a whiteboard pulled out, marker in hand, highlighting important notes; quoting scriptures, and steadily feeding our minds with new dynamics and dimensions of the word we have never been exposed to.

He may have been physically absent, and profoundly missed; but his teaching lacked none of the tenacity, clarity of thought, or transformational knowledge characteristic of a Pastor Otabil sermon.

When Pastor Otabil is delivering the word; the congregation, big or small, old or young; are like students in a lecture hall; notepads (electronic and paperback) pulled out, ears listening; eyes gazing and pens scribbling. 

In that brief period, there’s so much to learn, observe and absorb from the word of the Lord that it is wise not to miss a thing. 

No matter how learned or successful you may be; there’s always something new to learn from a Pastor Otabil sermon.

Growing up, like most kids in my generation; going to church on Sunday was a must; it was so well enforced by my father that it felt more like a chore. 

I grew up Catholic, per my father’s denomination and my education. I learned a lot from the doctrines of the Catholic Church, especially in the Seminary when my father thought I would become a priest. A lot of my life has been shaped by the doctrines of the Catholic Church.

However, the highlight of Sunday evenings in our home, even for my dad, was catching Pastor Otabil on ‘Living Word’ on TV3. I always looked forward to it. For some reason, during that time, whiles ironing my uniform for school, eyes on my clothes but ears on the television; there was always something new to learn; even for a wiry young teenager yet to find himself in any way, shape, or form.

The kitchen sink realities served through the gospel by Pastor Otabil always resonated with my young self.  Suffice it to say, my favourite preacher has always been Pastor Otabil.

Somehow, I looked less to him as a preacher; and more as a man who served much-needed nuggets of wisdom, on ‘Life and Living it well.’ His teachings have guided my life from then till now.

I still fondly remember my first encounter with the statement; “the only real estate [wealth that survives after you] is real estate.” 

This statement was made by Pastor Mensa Otabil at one of the Albert and Comfort Ocran-led Springboard seminars. It has since influenced many of my financial decisions. I was 19 years old when I attended that seminar. I am now 33. Not surprisingly, even today, whenever I think of Pastor Otabil, the first thought that comes to mind is, ‘real estate is the only real estate.’

Like everyone, I have had many topsy turvy seasons in my life. Some have brought me closer to God and some further away from Him. 

Through every season though, pastor’s sermons have always served as a soothing reminder to tap into the grace of God to course correct. 

His teaching on the wisdom of King Solomon; expounds on the Queen of Sheba’s visit to King Solomon’s palace. His observations thereof; and how he captured each detail of her experience in the palace.

These experiences culminate in the Queen’s overwhelming respect and adulation not only for Solomon but especially, for the God of Solomon, ‘Who has delighted in him and placed him on the throne of Israel.’ (1 Kings 10:9 – paraphrased]. He juxtaposes this with how Christians should aspire to attain the wisdom to achieve exponential growth in every area of their lives.  

Simple as it may sound; this teaching was awe-inspiring and life-defining for me. I always strived for excellence, or so I thought; until I watched that sermon. It opened my mind to the realisation that excellence is a prerequisite for true service to God and not an option based on how successful you want to be in life. 

The believer’s excellence, competence, honour, integrity, value, and contribution in all endeavours serve to glorify and exalt the name of God. It is this quality of the believer that exhibits the greatness of God for the world to see.

We are, after all, created in the image and likeness of God. Thus, we are living examples of all that is great about our God. A lack of wisdom and excellence displayed by a believer is therefore a blight on the greatness of God. 

Pastor Otabil is certainly a man who has mastered excellence, The reader does not require a study into his life to recognise the excellence of God in his ways. 

Need I mention the high standards set by his church ICGC, the unique organisational structure of the church, the Central University, and the phenomenal Greater Works conference, which, in my view, is probably the most well-organised event in this country so far this year.

Let’s talk about his various publications; of which I personally single out Buy the Future: Learning to Negotiate for a Future Better Than Your Present. A book that is a tremendous guide to life, growing up, and living it well; and which should be studied in schools across the country. 

In his closing monologue at a conference in Nigeria, Pastor Otabil said that Africa’s leaders [both business and political] should learn from and appreciate the continent’s religious leaders, who have been successful in building organisations that have grown consistently over time. I believe, it is imperative for the young people of today to do so as well. 

Admittedly, religious leaders like Pastor Otabil have a unique advantage; and that is the Grace of God, but heavy is the head that wears the crown.

It takes a vessel who is willing to learn and improve on a daily basis [over decades], and who is ready to lead the flock with grace. Leaders of the church are required to weather the storms of the spirit and the ones society throws at them; and still display exemplary leadership that proffers wisdom, discipline, people management, and selflessness to build a system that will benefit the children of God.

Pastor Otabil is a true example of such leadership. Whether you are Christian or not; there’s a lot to admire, study, and honour about his life.

At 63 years young, there’s still so much more to give; and as a nation, we must celebrate him as a national treasure. As a church, members of the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC) must count themselves privileged to be able to drink every day from the well of God’s wisdom. As a man, I thank God for his life and all that God has used him to do for me.

Happy birthday pastor Mensa Anamua Otabil. 


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