Tanzania has been on the wrong side of many international groups for their insistence on not taking measures, not testing and not even reporting COVID-19 cases in the country. Instead, the country’s President John Magufuli has portrayed the pandemic as an economic opportunity as per many media reports out there. President Magufuli has in many occasions been quoted to tell Tanzanians to take advantage of this time, take the opportunity to grow a many crops to be exporters to countries that will e pertinence lack, as he believes there is no COVID-19.
However, this bold stance has not gone without criticism, early in the year, the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania has been putting pressure for President Magufuli to ease his stance and start testing and recording COVID-19 cases in the country. Internally, Tanzanian opposition politicians, have been criticizing the government’s position on COVID-19, and as recent as this week, WHO Director General has urged Tanzania to scale public health measures against COVID-19 and to prepare for vaccination and also encouraged the sharing of data in light of reports of COVID-19 cases among travellers.
With all this pressure, President Magufuli has remained optimistic and clear that Tanzania is free of COVID-19 and whether this is true or false is not up to me to judge, whether the President should step back from his tough stance on Covid-19 or not it’s not for me to advice. However, from President Magufuli actions right from the start, there are a few Faith leadership lessons that I picked that may be pertinent for many leaders across other nations and even leaders is specific areas including Christian leaders.
This morning I also listened to a sermon from my church that really helped to put ice on the cake in this article and it’s the story in the Bible from the book of 2nd Chronicles chapter 20 from verse 1 to 30. The story of King Jehoshaphat when the other nations of Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites had United to fight against Him. The Bible tells us when King Jehoshaphat heard this, he was afraid! However, if you take time and read that story to the end of verse 30 there are a couple of lessons that are pertinent and I can relate on how King Jehoshaphat reacted and President Magufuli of Tanzania reaction that I relate to the aspect of Faith Leadership.
I want to start by defining what Faith is for us to get the concept behind Faith and I will use the Bible as the standard in the definition: Faith is the confidence in what we hope for and the assurance that no matter what the situation, in our lives, that the Lord is working in it. One scholar known as Michael Dantley in his article in 2009, defined Faith based leadership as the process of considering leadership in the light of one’s religious, spiritual or faith related beliefs. So based on the story of King Jehoshaphat and President Magufuli reactions and getting insights from the sermon today by Pastor James of Mavuno Church, Kenya below my contribution into the understanding of this subject and I explain THREE critical insights on Faith Leadership.
King Jehoshaphat and President Magufuli first response was Turning to God first – this is the pinnacle of Faith Leadership that one has a strong confidence in God and their hope that no matter what situation they are in, God is in control and will handle the situation, whether they see it happening immediately or not but, the belief that something will shift someday. This is what we saw in King Jehoshaphat, when he Marshallese his people to pray as the first response; same reaction we see from President Magufuli in championing Tanzanians to turn to God at this period in time for God will deliver the Tanzanians from this predicament of COVID-19. As I shared, right from the definition of faith that not one can explain this aspect of faith only until you experience it yourself. So as many nations and people are hitting at President Magufuli at this time but my opinion will be possibly to give President Magufuli a benefit of doubt based on his faith and his status of leadership as the country president same as possibly the Kings at those time, there is some level of discernment in Faith that is powerful when a leader of such his stature chooses to acknowledge.
Second King Jehoshaphat and President Magufuli Attitude was and still is of gratitude even before their victories. We have seen many times President Magufuli in his statements, in his address to the nation asking Tanzanians to already Giving thanks to God for protecting Tanzanians. Just like King Jehoshaphat acknowledging to God that they are powerless, they don’t know what to do but, are hopeful and looking up to God. We see the same resemblance with President Magufuli, we all know that COVID-19 could possibly not be over in Tanzania based on some allegations of few death linked to COVID-19 but the admirable spirit of the President is the fact that he is hopeful, he has surrendered COVID-19 to God and his belief that Tanzania will defeat it. We cannot be able to understand this as individuals and nations because we are looking at our logic and what is happening across the world, but could someone give President Magufuli a break and a benefit of doubt due to his faith leadership?
Lastly, King Jehoshaphat and President Magufuli Obedience is unwavering – King Jehoshaphat obeyed what God had commanded based on the information from Jahaziel who the Bible informs us that the Spirit of God came upon him in the middle of their congregation with specific instructions. I am not alluding that Spirit of God came upon one of President Magufuli’s key men for him to have some confidence; I am not alluding that I hasn’t happen also because I do not know and have no certainty in knowing. However, looking at the confidence and constant reminder of the President to his people is possibly a testament of his obedience. Many times from media reports he has been open to sharing, and giving confidence to Tanzanians not to be afraid, not to run to vaccines but be very careful because the Lord is their protector. As shared still, I can’t explain this and neither can anyone explain on the aspect of faith leadership but, looking at biblical historical perspectives on the aspect of faith leadership and the unexplained impact, there is no difference with what President Magufuli is standing for.
Today, we don’t know what is protecting millions of Tanzanians but as a believer, I believe that God is protecting them based on their Leader’s faith (President Magufuli). We may not necessarily have detailed statistics of cases in Tanzania, but what has been so profound especially as a learning is President Magufuli Faith Leadership.
Key lessons to other Presidents or other leaders in whatever circumstance or situation they find themselves in; it’s Possibly not just to have prayer day for the nation, it’s could be that God is calling for the leaders of these nations including ours in Kenya to have unwavering FAITH LEADERSHIP for something to SHIFT. King Jehoshaphat won the war without even his men fighting; could this be what we are called to have FAITH LEADERSHIP through TURNING TO GOD: have ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE: and have OBIDIENCE?
I don’t know but I leave this up to you to make that call.
Remember we can’t explain this Faith because faith is a substance of things hopes for; Faith is not something you start and build from; faith can only be received, it must be given by God. True faith can take on doubts and questions, but it remains intact. We can grow in our faith, but the foundation is always the same (James 2:19).