The Widow & The Judge

I am sure if I was to ask what characteristics you would like to see in a Governor, we can write up a few hundred pages. But allow me to sum it up and say We are all hoping the next governor of Nairobi will be “People-centered” ; someone who is responsive to the needs and rights of citizens; someone who appreciates and facilitates our input in public policies and in the way resources are allocated.

But the challenge is that in any society it is unlikely for the needs of the people to be at the centre unless the people demand it.

Now here is the question I would like to ask: If you had the elevator pitch opportunity with the governor of Nairobi what would you say to him/her about what you want them to do for your ward/this city?

We need to know what we want for our county, but the nature of leadership is that even if you and I had the chance to lead it is unlikely we would take the time to discover the perspectives of those with less influence. For most leaders, the more influential they become, the more difficult it is to understand another’s point of view. The more influential you become the harder it is to put yourself in other people’s shoes.

In a situation like that how do we ensure that we pick leaders who are people centered and ensure that they stay people centered? Turn with me to Luke 18:1-8

Then
a. There was a judge who did not fear God or care what people thought.
b. There was a widow in that town who kept coming to him for justice.
c. For some time he refused but finally he gave in so that the widow would not wear him out because of her persistence.

How did she succeed in compelling an unworthy leader who felt no constraint of right or wrong to deal justly with her despite the fact that she was helpless in the situation?

This is a remarkable passage and the reason is this: She discovered where to find the judge; She understood her need and she communicated that need, relentlessly. She refused to be sidetracked or pushed away. This woman overcome the bureaucracy, complicated procedures, corruption, nepotism and delays in service delivery to achieve her goal.

Here is my main point in this message: for the next governor of Nairobi to be “People-centered” , I MUST BE VIGILANT IN DEMANDING ACCOUNTABLE LEADERSHIP.

Most cultures are governed by something called power distance. In this part of the world however we live in a very unequal society and that is part of our culture. [at a macro level, Kuna wananchi na kuna wenye nchi; but even beyond the very rich and powerful there is power distance; there is power distance between me and my househelp, me and the subordinate staff at our offices, we are very serious about titles here, ambassadeur so and so, engineer so and so] We practice what is called high power distance. In other words we acknowledge the power of others over us simply because of where they are based in terms of hierarchy and position and we accept that there are less powerful members of the society. And we are much less inclined to question them or to challenge the more powerful members of society.

Because of the power distance in our culture it is extremely difficult for us to challenge those in authority. Yet to get the kind of leaders who are people-centered and who experience the world as others see it we will have to be vigilant.

In other words you and I need to understand that like the widow we must out persist, out smart, out maneuver, outfox , outwit and out pray the most dodgy leaders. Like the widow, we must get the better of those leaders who like the unjust judge who neither fear God nor care what people think. Yes, the next governor of Nairobi must be “People-centered”, But I MUST BE VIGILANT IN DEMANDING ACCOUNTABLE LEADERSHIP.

This election comes at a decisive moment in the software of the nation. Above all else why we as the middle class particularly in the community of God’s people must hold leaders accountable is because the middle class forms the core of any nation. If you and I who have the advantages of education and exposure remain distant and unengaged we are actually complicit with the injustices around us. There is no such thing as parliament did this to us. The widow somehow understood that she was responsible to hold the judge accountable. Like the widow we have to be eternally vigilant to support and protect the leadership gains made over the past 50 years.

In today’s passage, the widow decided her future. She did not enter it passively. This was her future. Governance was not some abstract thing that belonged to someone else. She demanded that the judge deliver on the expectations of his job, on the promises made. She refused to play the victim. The next governor of Nairobi must be “People-centered” , but I MUST BE VIGILANT IN DEMANDING ACCOUNTABLE LEADERSHIP.

Many of us don’t know our issues with regard to the local priorities and we have no idea where to go even if we knew our issues. As the middle class it is within the realm of possibility to live extremely sheltered lives.

The widow knew who to go to and where to find the person. She went to the office of the local civic authority and she persisted in engaging. She knew she had a right. She didn’t just keep quiet.

The next governor of Nairobi must be “People-centered”, But I MUST BE VIGILANT IN DEMANDING ACCOUNTABLE LEADERSHIP. The next citizen of Nairobi must participate in resource allocation processes. In other words you must help your leader to lead you. For the leaders to respond, we must bring the issues to their attention. With devolved government, how many of us are aware of the public funds that the Governor will control?

  • Roads maintenance levy fund (RMLF)-started 1993
  • Secondary Schools bursary Fund (SSEBF) (Currently Constituency Bursary
  • Fund-CBF)-started 1993
  • Rural Electrification Levy Fund (RELF)- started 1997
  • Local Authorities Transfer Fund (LATF)- started 1998/9
  • Poverty Eradication Loan Fund (PELF)- started 1999
  • HIV/AIDS FUND- started 1999
  • Constituency Development Fund (CDF)- started 2003
  • Free Primary Education (FPE)- started 2003
  • Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YDEF)-started 2006
  • Women Enterprise Fund (WEF)- started 2006
  • Free Secondary Education (FSE)- started 2008/09
  • Kazi Kwa Vijana – started 2009/10
  • Economic Stimulus Program – started -2009/10

50 years ago was a time of immense promise and opportunity for this country. 50 years later Kenya has a new constitution and is preparing for an election. This is an extraordinary moment in our life as a nation. For 50 years we have experienced enormous progress and promise towards our collective aspirations for Kenya. History has shown that change is unstoppable. My prayer is that the you and I would play our role in supporting accountable leadership in this country. One way to represent the marginalized and deepen human dignity in this country is by holding our leaders to account.

Our progressive constitution puts this country on a good trajectory. We are emerging from politically instigated violence. We have made strides to strengthen institutions through the adoption of a new constitution. This election is a historic election the first under the new constitution.

Ultimately our joint efforts are called upon to deliver the promised land to our great nation, a promised land in step with the aspiration of our people. we must keep moving forward and you and I can be part of the critical mass to drive this nation forward. if we don’t make the right decisions and deliberately change our country history will judge us harshly.

As I conclude, here is what I want you to do:

1. Take a drive: What are the needs in your ward? What is the situation with regard to health? What are the priorities? What is the security situation? What is the situation with regard to waste management? The widow was very clear about her needs.

2. In this parable, Jesus is teaching about prayer and throughout this month I have been challenging us in our Small Groups to engage in a day of prayer and fasting especially to expose bad leaders.

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6 Responses to “The Widow & The Judge”

  1. Hi Pastor Linda, thank you for reminding me that I have a responsibility for my neighborhood. I have been listening keenly since the series began. I know that we have to do more than pray, but after the first sermon, I began to pray for the young ‘ ladies of the night’ that emerge every evening at about 8pm on the street next to which I live. I am not sure yet what action I can take, but I have asked God to show me and believe he will.

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  2. The first step to engaging the powers is standing up to be counted. Register as a voter today, find a centre at http://gottovote.code4kenya.org/

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  3. I love my country and I believe that it could improve. But this will be determined by the leaders we choose. Over the last two weeks I have engaged my friends and colleagues in political conversation but some of those talks have ended badly.We end up arguing over what is and what is not possible. It’s a Kenyan thing…I’m not sure we all believe that we can change this country, or even if this country can change. So we opt to ride the wave.

    We need to have a vision for our country whose end goal will be a KenyaMpya. With this vision in mind we need to establish which leaders will take us there and vote for them. I believe it is possible to have leaders that we can be proud of.

    Having good roads in this country was a dream but the reality was a nightmare. What was a dream then is a reality now. So yes we can. BUT WE HAVE TO VOTE WISELY!

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  4. Pastor Linda, if I have to be honest for the first time ever I was rather disappointed in your sermon this week. As You rightly called us to remain vigilant and hold our leaders to account.

    I will begin by calling you to account as my spiritual leader. I expected more from the sermon and the brochure that was handed to us during the service smacked of hypocrisy to say the least.!!

    The profiles of the candidates at the back of the brochure where so whitewashed / sugar coated and made these all the aspirants there seem palatable when in reality everyone knows that is the farthest from the truth and all these men have done despicable things in front God and man.

    In the first service we learnt that Eli was cursed by God ,not because of his own actions , but because he had heard about the evil deeds that his sons Phineas and Hophni were committing in the temple and failed to call them out or rebuke them for it.

    I feel like you failed to call out these candidates for their evil deeds and glossed over their CV’s without rebuking them in the pulpit where the Church has the moral duty to do so without fear or favour.

    This has a potential risk of the church losing its moral high ground and its credibility with the congregation as this is the strong feedback I am receiving through our vigorous discussions between and among our life groups.

    Please take this as positive criticism as I have nothing but respect for you , but as the Church we are called to be the light and the salt of the earth. and if we lose our saltiness, of what value are we?

    Regards

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  5. […] the third part of this leadership series done on the 18th November 2012 and titled The Widow and the Judge,  we were charged with a more personal take out; ‘I MUST BE VIGILANT IN DEMANDING ACCOUNTABLE […]

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  6. Kiboko Yao Says:

    I have loved this series (I have watched from the diaspora) . It gives me hope that there are people who are hopeful and who still believe that our country can be rescued.
    Let us not give up on faith and hope in God.
    Thanx Pastor Linda.

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