Disagreeing With Pastor Paul Enenche For Publicly Disgracing One Of His Shepherds

Feature Article Disagreeing With Pastor Paul Enenche For Publicly Disgracing One Of His Shepherds

It is no more news that the social and conventional media spaces have been agog with the news that Nigerians have been calling on the Senior Pastor of Dunamis International Gospel Centre, Abuja, Paul Enenche, to apologize to a member of his church who was publicly embarrassed and accused of dishonesty during a testimony session.

Given the backdrop of the emotional and viral calls, the fact cannot be mistaken that trolls, in this kind of situation, are no strangers to calling out anyone, but the severity and volume of hate comments varies depending on a number of things, including the host platform.

It will be recalled in this context that a video that has gone viral on Sunday, April 14, 2024, disclosed the pastor interrogating the believability of the woman’s testimony at his church in Abuja.

The woman, Anyim Vera, who claimed to have graduated with a “BSc in Law” from the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), was interrupted by the popular pastor, who scolded and indicted her for lying.

He told her that she did not sound like a Law graduate, going by how she spoke, even as he also told her that there is nothing like a “BSc in Law” and demanded that she leave the pulpit.

However, the take of this writer on this issue is that pastors are expected to behave in a manner that reflects their position as clergymen for several reasons.

First and foremost, pastors are unarguably role models. The reason for ascribing the foregoing collective prestige to them cannot be farfetched as pastors are widely considered to be role models in their communities. In fact, their behavior sets a standard for others to follow, and it is important that this standard aligns with the values and teachings of the church.

Another point that cannot be skipped is that of trust and credibility. This is as the behavior of pastors can significantly impact their credibility and the trust the people place in them. In fact, consistent, ethical behavior that aligns with their teachings helps build and maintain this trust.

Concerning the aspect of their leadership as spiritual leaders, pastors are expected to lead by examples, demonstrating the holiness and discipline they preach about by every passing day. This is not only a biblical expectation but also a practical one, as it encourages others to pursue a similar path.

In fact, concerning authority and accountability, pastors often hold a position of authority within their churches. To exercise this authority effectively and justly, they must be accountable for their actions and live up to the responsibilities of their role.

Again, pastors are expected to exhibit the behavior that can have a profound impact on their congregation and the wider community, and it is against the foregoing backdrop that pastors need to refrain from correcting their members openly.

It is so wonderful when words, phrases, or stories from the Bible become well-known life lessons shared for countless generations. Words such as “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" from John 8:7 offer invaluable wisdom for all ages, and finds expression in this context.

The reason for the foregoing biblical reference in this context cannot be farfetched as the event is a marvelous picture of Jesus’ saving grace. Jesus judged the situation and, instead of condemning the woman, He forgave her and instructed her to repent. We could all take a lesson from Jesus in the way He handled the religious leaders too. Instead of losing His temper, as some pastors, like Enenche, are prone to do, He calmly stated truth and let the truth do its work. Many times we attempt to force feed our beliefs into those with whom we are witnessing. Instead, we should simply speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and let the Holy Spirit work that truth into their heart.

In fact, pastors in Nigeria may choose to refrain from correcting their members openly for several reasons as maintaining a respectful and constructive environment within the church community is courteous enough.

Also to be mentioned in this context is the aspect of privacy and respect. For instance, correcting someone in public can be embarrassing, and may feel like an attack on the personality being rebuked or criticized, which could lead to defensiveness rather than reflection and change. It is generally more respectful to address issues privately.

At this juncture, permit this writer to look at the issue from biblical perspective once again, by leveraging the argument more on biblical guidance. For instance, the Bible provides guidance on this matter, suggesting that if someone is caught in a sin, those who are spiritual should restore that person gently, and to watch themselves so they also won’t be tempted (Galatians 6:1). This implies a careful and private approach to correction.

Similar to the foregoing is that effective communication is a compulsory pulpit skill for clergymen. The reason for its compulsion cannot be farfetched as private conversations can be more effective for correction. This is because they allow for open dialogue and a personal touch, which can lead to better understanding and a more positive outcome.

Also to be mindful of in this context is that of church unity. This is as public correction can cause division and discomfort within the congregation, whereas handling matters privately helps to maintain unity and peace within the church body.

Again, Pastors, like anyone else, are not above correction themselves, so pastors ought to be addressing issues privately, as by that they would no doubt be modelling humility and openness to growth, which can encourage others to do the same.

Without any iota of exaggeration, it is important to note that while private correction is often preferred, there may be situations where public correction is necessary, especially if the issue is affecting the whole community or involves public sin. However, such actions should always be taken with the goal of restoration and healing, in line with Christian principles of love and grace, and which are not in any way related to the case of the woman, Anyim Vera, who claimed to have graduated with a “BSc in Law” from the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), and publicly disgraced by Pastor Enenche. If I may ask, would it not have been more decorous for the pastor to have invited Vera together with other ministers to his office since he took exception to her testimony?

In fact, there is need for pastors to always exhibit a modicum of decorum on the platform and in the pulpit, as what they do can do can go a long way in setting the tone and establishing the mood for the church service on any given day. Therefore, it is important that the ministry as well as others who participate in such services observe the ethical conduct that should prevail under such circumstances.

The reason for the foregoing cannot be farfetched as those who are on the platform are under constant observance, therefore, their mannerisms should be such that the worshippers under his ministration are not offended or to get detracted from the service. While angrily rebuking a member, the way Pastor Enenche did, is to be deplored.

For the sake of clarity, the pulpit is not a place to be ridiculing members, jesting, joking, and telling gruesome stories, as they are out of order in the pulpit. It is not the place to display one's humor and make people laugh. In fact, there is a time and place for wit and genuine humor, but seldom should it be used in the pulpit. If done at all, it should be with moderation and restraint. To tell funny stories, rebuke anyone like Pastor Enenche did to Anyim Vera, unarguably degrade the pulpit and weakens his influence.

Given the foregoing backdrop, it is germane to urge the Senior Pastor of Dunamis International Gospel Centre, Abuja, Paul Enenche, to apologize to Anyim Vera who was publicly embarrassed and accused of dishonesty during a testimony session.