At Easter, I threw a challenge to the leaders in my network: lay down yourself for someone else’s uplifting. This challenge was triggered by inspiration I received when I had just returned from a college graduation the week before Holy Week. Although it had been a season of graduation ceremonies in Ghana across many tertiary institutions, this was a special one, a very special one.
About six years ago, our family travelled to Ghana from Canada on furlough. We had planned to stay the entire period at my parents-in-love’s residence in Accra. Being a reasonably big-sized big family (the children weren’t even seven yet!) we obviously needed some domestic assistance. We were glad to welcome a promising young lady, Benedicta, as our new house help after a couple of failed trials.
As we lived with her and observed her initiative, diligence, smartness, humility, kindness and care we took an extra interest in what her ultimate dream was. She had the potential to be like any one of us high income, high impact professionals and not necessarily having to be confined to a vocation of domestic assistance her entire life. We found out about her high school final grades and thought they could be improved. And so we (my wife and I, parents-in-love and other family members) decided to invest in her, everything from extra classes through re-sit examinations. Even when she was finally given a shot at college my mother-in-law would get her books and do mock interviews with her to prepare for the entrance interviews. Long story short, she made it into nursing college.Now, that is the graduation we went for that day.
Today, Benedicta is a nurse. She graduated from the Nurses & Midwives Training College in Teshie, Accra, Ghana. From house help to nurse; and that is what brought me to the Easter challenge because at Easter, we see the ultimate leader Himself laying down His life for the people He saw value in. At the risk of sounding holier-than-though, the previous family she left to serve ours was just about to invest in her to be a fried pork seller by the street.
Everybody knows John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” But what a lot of people who are not schooled in Trinitarian theology don’t realize is that this scripture is basically saying that God so loved the world—God so saw value in you and me—that he gave Himself for us, because God is Father-Son-Spirit. The ultimate leader laid down Himself for our uplifting.
This giving of Himself or laying down His life for us is spoken of by St. Paul’s to the Church in Philippi in such humble and humbling terms. He begins in Philippians 2:5 by exhorting that “your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” Let’s take Eugene Peterson’s contemporary version:
5-8 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.” 
Wow! God becoming a man was not just humbling, it was humiliating. Yet even when formed and found in appearance of a human, he could’ve been a very proud man but no! He was down-to-earth and mingled with tax collectors and ‘sinners’. In fact, it was on the night he was betrayed–during Holy Week–that He washed his own disciples’ dirty and stinky feet and wiped them with a towel around his waist.
The way up is down, for because of this humble attitude and action, “God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.”  Even those who are not voluntarily honoring Jesus now will bow one day, compelled. All shall bow to the one who first bowed the lowest and is now raised the highest.
As a leader, I want to challenge you to choose one person, choose one thing to do this month (we’re still in the month of Easter) that involves laying down your preference, time, or money, sacrificing something, dying a little so that someone can live, graduate, have a better life etc. I challenge you to do that because that is the essence of ultimate leadership. Leadership is not about us, it is about those who take inspiration, follow, and learn from us who we get to empower and guide; those around us.
It’s sad to see so many places in the world, especially in Africa, where government official think it is all about them. Unfortunately, even in the church there are a myriad instances where pastors are doing extremely well socioeconomically and there are congregants who are not faring well, at all. Sometimes these leaders are literally fleecing the people, milking them dry till they bleed. That’s not leadership at all, and certainly not servant leadership. Leadership is laying down our lives, laying down our gifts so that others will be blessed. It is going down to pick the downtrodden and lifting them up.
Cecelia Chan poignantly put it this way: “Instead of laying a red carpet for yourself to walk on, lay a bridge and let the young people walk over to you.” This is my challenge to you, at Easter and beyond: lay down yourself for someone else’s uplifting. God bless and honour you too as you learn to lead like Jesus.
 Philippians 2:5-8, The Message
 Philippians 2:9-11, The Message
The following slightly edited version of this article was first written and posted on Dr. Yaw Perbi’s FaceBook wall on January 31, 2023. At the time, that last day of January was the deadline to tender in eligible Government of Ghana bonds in the controversial Domestic Debt Exchange (DDE). There have been scores of passionate responses to the trending article that we have decided to reproduce it here so people are able to document these for posterity.
I am pained that, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’ (Ezekiel 18:2). For over 20 years now, The HuD Group and I have championed a culture of savings and investments in Ghana, and had the JOY of seeing thousands heeding the call, especially young people. Financial Whizzdom, is what we called the campaign.
I wrote three personal finance books and executed a triple launch of Financial Whizzdom, Financial Whizzdom Nuggets (a summary) and Financial Whizzdom through Investment Clubs. It was around that time that Uncle Ken became a mentor to me. He was intrigued that a medical student would be so adept at the world of finance. He not only loaned us some money to finish the project (which we fully paid back within three months or so) but he also passionately spoke at the triple launch. The year was 2004.
Many like-minded people came together to push a savings and investments culture among young people. We traveled the length and breadth of Ghana, doing several seminars and workshops. Medics Investment Club (which really is the first investment club in Ghana per the National Association of Investment Clubs definition) became a model for many who also started their own investment clubs around the country, from university campuses and nursing training colleges to even secondary schools. No wonder I’ve been christened “the grandfather of investment clubs in Ghana.”
The many who wanted to join our investment club at the University of Ghana Medical School but who couldn’t (we had set the maximum for 20) were mobilized into a collective investment scheme we called ‘Mutual Medics.’ At the peak we grew to about 300. We sacrificed student loans, ice cream money and even extra-curricular fun and entertainment to save for our future. Almost none of us have withdrawn the monies we invested almost two decades ago.
Today, January 31, 2023, is the deadline for the trustees of this mutual investment scheme we set up way back in our medical school days to inform Databank for sure whether or not to tender in our eligible bonds in the Government of Ghana’s Domestic Debt Exchange (DDE) debacle. Our fund managers had 70% of the total value of the fund in government bonds, which in normal times and normal places with normal people are supposed to be very low risk, even tempting some advisors to say ‘no risk’ (nothing is ‘no risk,’ not even life itself!).
This DDE is supposed to be a voluntary move but in reality it is a case of “choose your poison.” If you drink this one you will die, if you drink the other one, you will surely die. I am pained for myself, colleagues, fund managers, and the whole investment fraternity in Ghana, especially the younger generation. How did we get here? Indeed, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’
Even more heart-wrenching is that if this should happen under any Finance Minister’s regime, not under the watch of the very mentor who, as far as I know, has spent his whole life building the very financial culture, structures and systems that seem to be now crumbling at his hitherto dextrous hands. The irony.
I am pained. Very much. Whoever has eaten our money, killed our dreams, buried our hope and compelled us to come for unfashionable haircuts that make us look like our misery will have to make it up to us, somehow, even if it is their children or their children’s children. In the mean time, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ Ah!
~By Dr. Yaw Perbi
Photo credit: Opinion Nigeria
We shall do well to document as many of the responses we’ve garnered so far as possible. This issue warrants a national conversation, at the least. A national demonstration for all those equally pained might also be in order to send a strong message to the current government, who in spite of all the pain they are inflicting on the citizenry, have shown no significant sense of regret, repentance or even austerity.
On 16th March, 2017, I turned 39. I give thanks and praise to God! Yet barely 24 hours prior I was a little discouraged. No, not a midlife crisis 🙂 My disappointment came from discovering a negative CAD 4,839.01 hole in my ministry account. I’ll tell you why.
THANK YOU FOR 38TH
All thanks and praise to God, last year around my 38th birthday we launched a campaign to raise $10,000 between March and June for all the Lausanne Movement assignments thrust upon me in 2016. And guess what? WE DID IT! Thanks to people like you, we raised slightly more than the $10k target and I was not only able to fulfill all the Lord’s tasks in Europe (Czech Republic), North America (US/Canada), Africa (Ghana), Asia (Indonesia), and Latin America (Panama) but was even able to do a couple of these missions with my dear wife and partner for life, Anyele. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! The seeds sown from those initiatives are still blossoming and bearing fruits.
As I enter my 40th year of life this week I’m already thinking LEGACY—how you and I will be remembered after we’re long gone. How will our lives continue on, even though we are dead? Martin Luther King Jnr. died at 39, at my age today, shot in the jaw while readying himself to lead one of his characteristic civil rights marches. What if Luther King had said, “Life begins at 40?” His short life but long legacy is still celebrated today, decades later, all over the world.
For a 40th year legacy project, my aim is to raise CAD 40,000 ($4,000 for every decade of my life) over the next 24 months, from 16th March 2017 to 15th March 2019 for what I believe is the greatest legacy you and I can ever leave: godly, effectual global servant-leaders deeply transformed to transform nations and generations. This means raising only CAD 1,667 each month for the next 2 years. Will you contribute to the President’s Scholarship for Global Leadership?
One of my favourite leaders, Peter Scazzero, author of The Emotionally Healthy Leader, puts this task bluntly: “We must train the next generation for leadership. The world population is now 7.2 billion people. It will be 8.5 billion in 2030 and 9.7 billion people by 2050. Think about that: We will add 2.5 BILLION people in the next 33 years! Who will be the apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists to equip these additional 2.5 billion people?” And to think that even today there are 3.5 billion people in our world still to be transformed with the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Each of us will need to reevaluate our lives and adjust our “wineskins and priorities to meet this acute need.” WHO will you contribute to this task?
STARTING WITH ME
I am offering the ‘second half’ of my life as a living sacrifice to God and you for this task. Half of this CAD 40,000 will be an investment in Yaw Perbi towards academic rigour, deeper spiritual formation and reflective praxis so I may ‘reproduce after my kind’ for the task unfinished.
It has been nine years since surviving that fateful accident in Cote d’Ivoire (above) after which I felt the Lord calling me to fully devote my life to preaching the gospel and raising younger leaders. And “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” Thus far, there has been no formal academic training in theology, missiology or leadership. There surely has been a lot of on-the-job learning and doing from a place of clear calling, vision and pure passion. It is now time for critical reflection of self and praxis, solid biblical theological training to undergird my call and academic rigour to complement what is already natural and supernatural about this calling.
AM I WORTH THIS INVESTMENT?
So, a few months ago I took the plunge and was accepted into the prestigious Fuller Seminary’s Master of Arts in Global Leadership. Having been pouring and pouring into others, it was refreshing to put together a comprehensive Learning Plan for myself. It has been a rich soul-searching experience for one who is more of a doer than a reflector. My transformation is affecting everything about me including slowing down for loving union with Jesus and leading out of the strength of my marriage. The organisations I lead are on the path of deeper discipleship and emotionally healthy leadership as a result.
And you know an investment in Yaw Perbi affects tens of thousands more. Only last week, a reflection I did on “When Life Doesn’t Make Sense” based on some of my MAGL learning so far reached over 30,000 people on FaceBook and over 26,000 hits on my personal website! You decide; if investing $20,000 in me is worth it or not. With the aforementioned example alone, that’s less than $1 investment per person impacted!
QUALITY EDUCATION IS COSTLY
Fuller is no doubt ‘the Harvard of seminaries,’ with a 70-year record of producing great leaders of our time like Rick Warren. With 4,000 students enrolled online and on 7 campuses from 90 countries and 110 denominations, Fuller is the largest multidenominational seminary in the world!
A course at Fuller costs USD 1,200; it isn’t cheap. I have negotiated a deal for ISMC so that any of our staff could get a 30% discount, bringing this amount to USD 840. Unfortunately, the drop of the Canadian dollar to the US dollar by about 30% sends us back to paying nearly the same USD 1,200 still. The MAGL consists of 9 core courses taken in sequence with the rest of my cohort from around the world and 9 electives, resulting in a total of USD 15,120 or CAD 19,656 (not counting books and travel and lodging expenses over the two years).
So far, I have invested nearly CAD 5,000 having taken 3 courses (including one on-campus session) and scored A+ in each! Praise God! That largely explains the gaping -$4,839.01 hole in my ministry account from which I serve the cause of international students globally and from which I get paid!
THE ASK—A GIFT THAT KEEPS GIVING
The other half of this legacy project is to provide SEED to invest in other staff and international students towards their leadership development including setting up a Global Leadership Incubator and a Leadership Institute. The task unfinished is great and urgent!
I invite you to give to the President’s Scholarship for Leadership. If 17 people sign up to give CAD 100 monthly we’ll meet the full target in 24 months. You may also decide to sponsor me for a whole course (CAD 1,200). If you have access to a foundation or other scholarship scheme that can offer grants of multiple thousands of dollars that will be awesome too. Please let me know.
Whatever you do, please make some contribution to the day of my birth and the birth of many multiple global leaders as a result–a gift that keeps giving towards the task unfinished.
Thank you for investing in hundreds of thousands of lives to begin and flourish before 40! Give HERE.