Odesola: Personal Growth Essential for Pastors

May 26, 2024

With over 40 years serving as a pastor, and missionary with six PhDs to his credit, the Assistant General Overseer of Redeemed Christian Church of God, for Continent 3 (South-West, Nigeria & Middle-East), Pastor Johnson Funso Odesola was recently inducted into The Nigerian Books of Record (Who’s Who In Nigeria). Odesola shares his experience with Adeola Ogunlade on the new feat, how young people can get their bearings in life, and the place of personal growth for pastors.

What does it mean to be inducted into the Nigerian Book Society?

Well, I need to tell you the background of the story. When originally they communicated with me that they wanted to honour me, I said no. I said I was a pastor; I just wanted to be myself. But when they approached me the third time, I said okay, I will consider it.

When I visited the internet, and I saw what they have done, I decided to accept the award.

I am grateful to God for being appreciated in my little corner. So I feel honored that in my small corner, some people can identify me. I don’t want my brain to be dormant. I don’t speak like an American or British. But I have content in my brain. Just like when I was talking to my father in the Lord, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, he said you are an idealist. You know people are created to just generate ideas and people work on it. You know Henry Ford, he wasn’t an engineer. He just had an idea. And that idea was what brought him to the limelight. So I feel honored and elated. I feel that in my little corner, I could be recognized. In a few weeks time, on the 5th of June, I’ll be 65. So I don’t look it, but once you are getting older, you are actually old. A day older is old. It doesn’t matter how young you are.

It is sad that a lot of youths grow up without vision and are not focused, how can young people get their bearings in life early?

Well, it’s a very critical question. But if you have a vision of what you want to become in life, and you see someone who is already on that path or at that level, there is no crime in finding your way to that fellow and asking questions. So, if you aspire to be like someone, get closer or find a means of getting to that fellow. My advice is that in the era of social media, anything you want to know about people, there are levels of it, rather than painting your picture and doing all manner of unhealthy practices, go search for your mentor and learn from them.

But if you aspire to be like someone, get to know something about the person. Pastor Enoch Adeboye is an envy of this generation, but he also has not hidden any of his stories; how he started, how he got to where he got to, and some of the habits he put forward to be able to navigate through.

My advice to young ones, who are disadvantaged, is to find someone they want to be like. Read about them. If you have an opportunity, get close to them and know how they got to where they got to.

What is the place of personal growth for church leaders and how have you balanced academics, family life, and ministerial assignment?

Let me answer spiritually, and then I’ll break it down. Grace. When people say you have done this, I ask myself, am I the one doing it? No. Because, for me, first, study is a passion. Reading is a passion. They say I have written 70 books. I have done more than 150 books and I have done more than 150 titles. So, when people say, I am writing a book for one year, three years, I say, are you writing another Bible? Because I can stay up the night and write an entire book. But when you stop me, it fails. So, when I finish a book, if I re-read it again, it will change. So, once I write, I just ask somebody to edit. Because I can’t, when I re-read it again, it will change. So, it’s a passion. It’s like a passion that gives me fulfillment. I am not selling books. Of course, now that it’s on Amazon, a few coins are coming in from there. But that’s one.

Of course, when it comes to family, family is life. If your family is not good, everywhere in the city is a wilderness. Somebody asked me the other day; how do you enjoy your home? How do you have everything you have in the home? I said three things. He said, what is number one? Whatever your wife wants, give her. What is number two? Whatever she desires, give her. What is number three? Anything she wants, give her the three.

He said, have you been able to navigate a marriage? In June, you’ll be 35 or 36. So, am I perfect? No, I’m still learning to be a good husband. I still want to love her more. I still want to be a good father and a good grandparent. That one is a duty that I need to perform. Now, when it comes to personal growth, I know if you don’t grow, you don’t have anything to offer. So I need to create time. Whether it is convenient or not convenient, to work on my personal development. I don’t want to be a pastor who is talking lower than the people they are pastoring. And I don’t want to be in the congregation where people are bringing ideas, and I don’t have any. So, when it comes to training, I know that a success without a successor is a successful failure. So, I need to see people who are hanging around me. Once you are 40, 40-something, I put you in a place where you have to mentor other people.