Matthew Ashimolowo, founder and Senior Pastor of London-based Kingsways International Christian Church (KICC) is one individual who has demonstrated that spirituality could also go side by side being wealthy, materially. Ashimolowo runs a vibrant and dynamic ministry with television network in over 200 countries; and, in the business world he has built a couple of first class business entities while he personally owns choice properties in choice places around the world. In an earlier conversation with me, Ashimolowo shared some interesting life lessons. Please enjoy.
Lesson 1: Success in Ministry requires more than faith
When I got the leading of the Holy Spirit to set up a church in the United Kingdom, even though I knew there was a spiritual angle to it, I also knew that there should be application of knowledge and wisdom. I felt led to start something fresh and new, and the first thing I did was to recognise that visions are as distinct as we have over 7.5 billion people on earth. When I was starting out I needed to find my own niche, my own peculiarities, and my own uniqueness.
What I did as soon as I got to the United Kingdom was to enroll for a degree programme in The Sociology of the English People. Although I did not finish the degree programme. I left as soon as I got what I wanted from the course. What happens to people who come from elsewhere into the United Kingdom is that they come with the mindset of where they are coming from, the culture, the attitude and their perceptions, and when the English people refuse to accept what they are offering, they start complaining, that they don’t even understand these English people. The issue is that every set of people have a way of doing their own things, it may not look like your own, but it works for them. For instance, the English people have a way of raising their own children, they may not beat them but their children also grow up responsible, at least on a greater scale.
When we started KICC, people saw the ambiance of the place, the settings, the quality of our infrastructures and presentations and they could not believe this was coming from a Nigerian, from a black man. So I realised that quality sells, that people identify with quality and that quality breeds and generates quantity, that excellence rewards. So we excelled because of the quality of work we put into our endeavour and the grace of God.
But what people do is to blame the ordeals on one witch out there, who doesn’t know them, they blame Satan as if he is omniscient, he is not everywhere at a time, although he has demons that are scattered all over the place, but he isn’t everywhere.
So that’s how we come to where we are. The right application of knowledge, the right and careful application of the truth guarantees a man to make progress in life.
Lesson 2: Success is hidden in what you do daily.
I recently taught a series on how to have a great day. This is the idea. Some people don’t know how to have a great day. When you have a great day, you have a great week and then a great month and a great year and so on, that’s it. Many people don’t know how to manage a day, not to talk of a year and they wonder why their life is such a failure, they blame a witch in their village and so on. They blame the devil. The way people talk about the devil, they make him look omniscient, omnipresent, but the devil isn’t omnipresent. The failure of many people has absolutely nothing to do with the devil, they brought it upon themselves.
If you can’t manage a day you can’t manage the entire life; to manage the entire life, you have to learn to manage a day greatly. There are a few things you must do to have a great day; to make a great life. They are preparation, inspiration: you must be excited about the cause of the day, pray, plan and set the day before you and be excited about it believing it will be great. Also is organization. You must be organised, your day must be organised, you must have the things you want to achieve the entire day planned and worked through. There is also delegation, there must be things as you get to a point in life you must delegate, to let you concentrate on the bigger issues. And so on. The idea is that you have to seize the day before you step out. So when your day turns out to be good consistently, it would result into a great week, a great month and a great year and that is how success comes.
Lesson 3: It is not a curse to be wealthy
The day you receive Christ you carry these blessings; but the church you go to, the ministration you sit under determines if these blessings will find fulfillment in your life. Some people go to churches where they are taught they don’t need these blessings, some work on cursed ground, others work with cursed hands. The environment where you are operating is important to the blessings manifesting in your life.
As a Christian we are blessed for the following reasons: to be a blessing to our generation, to make a difference in our family and to be a major sponsor of the gospel. We are blessed so that we can make a difference in our world, we get wealth so that we can touch our world, you can do much more when you are wealthy than you can do when you are broke.
The first thing is if you want wealth, do not talk down on it, celebrate it and as you follow the principles of building wealth, it will naturally flow to you.
Whatever you celebrate gets attracted to you and whatever you denigrate gets repealed from you. Money is called currency because it flows to where it is celebrated, to wherever it is respected and showed it is needed and can be handled well.
To attract money you must show passion to get it, passion to multiply it and passion to use it to bless and help others. This can be done in two ways, using your gifts or through a business. Among these, the best has been entrepreneurship; it has been proven that if you want to do something great for the kingdom of God, you must be an entrepreneur. Salaries can never make you rich. For instance, there is nobody in Nigeria that is paid a million dollars, not even the bank C.E.Os, nobody. So if you must be rich you must set out to create something to create wealth, that’s being an entrepreneur.
Lesson 4: Wealth multiplies as you give it out
Wealth multiplies when you allow it to flow through you to others. The principle of wealth creation is universal. It has no respect for anybody; if an unbeliever practises it, it works and if a Christian doesn’t practice it, he remains broke. There are so many Christians who are broke, whereas some unbelievers are being blessed with these same principles. In the United Kingdom, some organisations are using these same principles to prosper and grow tremendously. Organisations like Marks and Spencer, every year give out a large chunk of their earnings as charity and it works for them even without knowing that they are practising Biblical principles. The business world calls it CSR (corporate social responsibility) but this is a fancy way to call this biblical principle.
I have practiced this with results. Anything God blesses me with I pass on to others to be a blessing. There is nowhere I keep so much money at once than to be a blessing to mankind, to people as I get blessed by God. Anything God blesses me with I just use to bless others. I don’t stack it somewhere. I just gave out my Hummer Jeep not long ago to a man of God who is in the heat of Boko Haram insurgency. In what other way can we empathise with people like this, than just to spot them and bless them? So, God laid it upon my heart to bless him with the car and I did. He has been at the heart and heat of this insurgency. He deserved to be blessed and I did. In the last three years I have donated 24 cars to people. Some of them are people who have been praying to God to be blessed and God laid it in my heart to be a blessing to them and I gave them out to these sorts of people
Lesson 5: It is not a sin to do business as a pastor
I used to think like that as well, that being doing business was not compatible with doing pastoral work. In 1974 I was in the Bible school, in 1976 I started pastoring and in 1979 I traveled out for the first time, I bought BTA ( Basic Travel Allowance), and on returning I bought a musical instrument for five hundred naira and sold it for one thousand two hundred naira in Nigeria, with that I built my first house. At that time my salary was one hundred naira, I started with a salary of fifty naira when I joined ministry. People would say fifty naira was a whole lot then, it wasn’t, my wife used to get that amount from her father as pocket money while she was in secondary school back then. So I began to think and I realised that from the age of fourteen years I have always sold things and God was telling me that it was my gift to make a difference and be a blessing to my generation. So it’s okay to be where God has put you and use your strength to be a blessing and touch lives and that’s what we are doing. I have always sold things from the age of fourteen years, I have been hawking bread and the mark is still at the centre of my head.
Message for Nigeria.
Nigeria: Till date we have only raised tribal chiefs and not national leaders. Those that came up to leadership position in Nigeria, quickly surround themselves with people from their own side of the geographical location of the country and sideline all others no matter how good they. That needs to change.
The books that I read now and even the ones that I write are majorly about sixty per cent secular. Books on leadership, on finance, management and so on. My library has about fifty thousand books, I have books, I read books, every time I step into any airport, I buy between four hundred to five hundred dollars’ worth of books. The book that has made the most impact on me is The Power of Vision by George Barma