I walked in some minutes after the “Spirit and Power of Effective Leadership” seminar had kicked off. There was an impressive gathering of people in Arlington for the event, hosted by Dr. Darrell Wilson’s The Acts Church Ministries of Fort Worth. They all seemed to share the joy of delving deeper into leadership training. Aside from the rhythm of pens hurriedly scribbling on notepads like there was a prize for the fastest writer, the voice of the speaker, bestselling author and senior pastor of Bahamas Faith Ministries International, Dr. Myles Munroe, dominated the airwaves.
Munroe is known worldwide for his revelation-laced expository teaching. “What does the lion think of when he sees an elephant?” Munroe asked in his subtle Caribbean accent. To buttress his question, he changed the slide on a nearby projector to the picture of a benign but intimidating-looking lion. An assortment of answers came from different angles of the room. A minute later, Munroe explained, “When the lion looks at an elephant, the word that comes to his mind is lunch. He doesn’t see with his eyes but with his mind, because he has no sense of limitation.
“The difference between a leader and follower,” he continued, “is attitude. People don’t change until their belief system changes. You are as big or as small as you see yourself.” He grinned, wrapped in an air of confidence like the one the lion seemed to possess.
Born into a very poor family, Munroe lived with his parents and 10 siblings in a two-bedroom shack in the Bahamas. They spent their early years sleeping on the floor among rats and cockroaches. At the age of 5, Munroe had his first vision while seated on a heap of dirty clothes. He saw himself as very successful, wearing nice clothes, driving nice cars, and traveling around the world in a private jet. Although too young to grasp what he saw, he took it and stored it in a box of faith to be opened when the time came. In the meantime he occupied his mind with watching television until the day his mother cautioned him, saying, “The more you watch TV, you will never get on TV.” That statement got him thinking and empowered him to substitute the time he was spending watching television with reading books. Today, he has written many bestselling books.
Munroe formed a successful Christian music group in his teenage years. Although his songs were about his life experiences, they attracted many young people into the Kingdom of God. He worked for the government of the Bahamas for four years as an administrative secretary of education and managed a Bible study fellowship at the same time. He was passionate about seeing people gain knowledge about God, although he had no plan of ever becoming a pastor. In no time, the Bible study outgrew his secular job, and he was about to find out that man can propose but God will dispose if it is not in His will for the individual.
The turning point for Munroe was a trip to attend a religious program in Tulsa, Oklahoma. On one of the program nights the scheduled speaker, the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa, wasn’t able to make it. Like a bolt out of the blue, Munroe was chosen to replace him. He spoke at 7:30 p.m. that evening; it was the only evening that week when the media, including TBN and some radio stations, were present. He was at the right place at the right time. He preached about the same Kingdom principles he is teaching today. From that night, his life story was rewritten and his international ministry was born. Book publishers, radio, and TV stations began approaching him. “If you refine who you are, the Lord will expose you when you are ready,” Munroe said as he told this part of his testimony.
Munroe admits he is angry at things not being the way they ought to be and churches not reaching people the way they should, and that has been the propelling force behind Munroe going before world leaders, kings, queens, governments, church leaders, and many others.
“Leadership is birthed out of anger!” he said. “I was angry at things that are not the way they should be. In life, purpose is defined by the thing that makes you angry. Martin Luther was angry; Mandela was angry; Mahatma Gandhi was angry; Mother Teresa was angry. If you are not angry, you do not have a ministry yet.
“I am still angry at the oppressive spirit, a byproduct of colonization that exists in Third World countries. Many people are leaders trapped in a follower’s body. A leader can transform an army of frightened people into fearless people. A leader does not have stinking thinking. We came to earth to be the answer to a question--the solution to a problem.”
As the clock ticked away during the seminar, so my heart was ticking with anticipation of the opportunity to sit down and interview Munroe. It turns out he had much to say.
Can you share with us how you came from sleeping on the floor with rats to arriving in Dallas two days ago in your own private jet?
God designed the world in such a way that everything functions on principles. Principles are eternal laws established and inherent in creation that make creation function. That includes the created race called the humans. Everything in life is built on principles--plants, seas, birds, all of the natural elements of nature, they all follow and obey certain basic fundamental principles. God also built that into our relationship with nature and also with Him.
The reason why principles are so important is because principles make life predictable. In other words, God designed life in such a way that it is very simplified. Principles are laws that are established by the creator or the manufacturer by which a product functions. If you violate those laws, then you produce malfunction, which is what we call failure. If you obey those laws and align yourself with those laws, then you are guaranteed success.
So the same way failure is predictable if you break laws, success is predictable if you obey laws. I discovered and learned that truth when I was 14 years old. Not everyone discovers that. Some people take a lifetime to learn that. I learned it when I was living in the poorest part of my island in Nassau in the Bahamas. I was reading the Scriptures one day as a teenager, and I saw where it says, “If you keep my laws then you will have good success” [a paraphrase of 1 Chronicles 22:13]. So I discovered that success has very little to do with education or race or disposition; it has more to do with principles and following those principles.
So when I applied those principles in my state of poverty, things in my environment began to change. First they changed internally, and that is where I believe the first change must take place. External circumstances will not change until internal belief systems change. And so at age 14, my belief systems began to change about myself, about God, about humans, about values, and about moral standards. I also began to align myself with the principles that are laid down by the Creator in the book called the Bible. So I could say that I went from one state of life to another state of life by obeying, understanding, and applying these principles that are laid down in the Bible.
I also discovered that the Bible is really not a religious book but a divine manual written by the manufacturer of humanity by which the product man is supposed to live. If we learn those principles and obey them, then we find that the process of failure to success becomes more inevitability than experiment.
I can guarantee people, then, that if they learn, discover, understand, explore, and apply the same principles that I learned, that success is predictable. Failure of success is not race-related; it’s not socioeconomics-related; it is really predictable, based on principles that are laid down by God the Creator by which we are supposed to function. If we find them and obey them, success becomes inevitable. That’s why I was able to move from rats to 40,000 feet in the air in my own aircraft.
Earlier on you talked about not letting the gift get to you, and that is something that is not very easily done by a lot of people up there. How can you suppress the urge to be proud of your accomplishments when you are up there?
First of all, every human being was born with an inherent gift, and that gift is their gift to humanity; they are supposed to serve humanity in the area of their gifting. No one came to earth empty; everybody came with a contribution to make to their generation. Most of them never find that gift and even more die never releasing it. However, when you discover your gift and authority, that gift attracts people. When people come to you, they are not really coming to you for you but for the gift and the vision that you are serving the humanity of your generation with.
If you are aware that people are coming to you to receive your gift and not necessarily to you as the person, it keeps you very humble. Many people make the mistake of confusing the attraction of people to their lives as something that has to do with them as a person or a personality, and this is very dangerous and not true. For example, an apple tree has gifts called apples; when the apple tree bears the apples, it attracts us to the tree. But we never go to the tree for the root or the trunk or the branches or even the leaves. No one goes to the apple tree to pick apple leaves but to pick apples. So if the apple tree begins to confuse the motivation of those who are attracted to it as coming to its branches, to its trunk, or to its roots, then the apple tree is misplacing its value, which does not come from the trunk, branch, or tree but from the fruit. If you keep your perspective correct and understand that people are coming to you because your gift makes room for you in the world, then you do not need to wonder or worry about having to misplace your importance as a person.
Your value in life is determined by the problems you solve through your gift. I encourage people to stay humble. One of the things that God told the prophet Elijah is, “Stay small in your own eyes.” This is one of the greatest pieces of advice I ever heard. No matter how many people celebrate your gifts, don’t ever think that you are more important to them than your gift is to them. This is why many people fail: They fail because they think that people came to follow them. You must keep a careful, correct perspective on life that this is not about me but about me serving my gift to the world. After all, Jesus said, “If any man wants to be great, He must become a servant to all” [Mark 9:35]. Serve your gift, serve your way to leadership, and keep yourself in perspective--people don’t love you, they love your gift.
We are in a time where people are looking for relief spiritually, financially, and maritally, and even in the church many people are not getting the much-needed relief. Like you said earlier on, there are glorified manipulators behind the pulpit. What is your advice for people really seeking relief?
I believe that if you are talking about economic stress, the systems of the world are very fragile, and if we put our hope and trust in the systems that men have created, they will guarantee failure. My advice is for people to learn the principles laid down by the Lord God our Creator regarding how we are supposed to sustain our lives. I have been teaching a new series called “Kingdom Commonwealth”--helping people to realign their priorities toward God being the source and not the systems of men or men themselves. People are losing their jobs; companies are downsizing; businesses are collapsing; people are losing their houses, their cars, and their hope because they trusted in the systems.
My greatest fear is that the spirit of religion is lurking in so many churches today. Instead of men and women of God preaching about and applying Kingdom principles to everyday living, they have given the spirit of religion the power to cloud the path of others. I admonish everyone reading this article to read Matthew, Mark, and John and reconnect with the Kingdom. If we place our trust back in the source, which is God Himself, He has principles laid out by which He wants to take care of you. Even though you are in the world, you should not be of the world system.
So I have been trying to adjust people’s priories and adjust their sense of security from earthly supply to heavenly supply. That is not some super-spiritual, impractical advice. I am talking about principles on earth that God placed here for us to prosper through. We need to learn those principles.
For example, the most important principle we need to learn is that God does not want us to own anything, but He wants us to have access to everything. Access is freedom from stress. God wants to supply your needs from a place you never expected, through people you never knew, in ways you never thought, but first you have to believe that it is possible. Once you understand that His ability to meet your needs is bigger than your job or your business, you will find that your source of life is bigger than the resources that you have been accumulating.
I encourage people at this time, do not put your faith in any preacher, in any human system, but put your faith and trust in the Living God. I am convinced that God Himself is tampering with the economic system of the world to reduce us back to Him. Until God becomes your only hope, you can never have security. So, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths [Proverbs 3:5-6].”
For more information on Myles Munroe, visit his website at www.mylesmunroeinternational.com.
By May E. Olusola - Publisher of MannaEXPRESS.