All Eyes on the Chief

It was no secret that a Paramount Chief was in the room on that hot afternoon in Ghana. Eyes periodically glanced in his direction as attendees shared the astonishing realization that their leader, whom they respected and feared, was listening and learning alongside them.

At a recent Lead Like Jesus Encounter, Ghana’s traditional structure of leadership was given the glimpse of a radical concept: servanthood.

Customary at the end of every Encounter, each participant was given the chance to wash the feet of someone else. As bucket and rag were passed around the room, Ghanaians adopted the leadership model demonstrated by Jesus, taking turns washing the feet of tablemates and neighbors.

The Paramount Chief of the Ewe Tribe, accustomed to superiority, shocked the gathering by bending down and resting on his knees. The headdress that sets him apart from his people disappeared as he bowed before one of his subordinates.

Fear and respect for Paramount Chiefs is so great that sometimes it even surpasses Ghanaians’ reverence for their president. Subjects must bow, kneel down, or lie prostrate just to speak with their Paramount Chief.

Only Jesus can inspire an action as anti-cultural as the kneeling of a Paramount Chief before a subordinate!

Chieftaincy in Ghana is traditionally a political as well as religious institution; customarily, Ghanaians will believe whatever their Paramount Chief believes. For the Paramount Chief of the Ewe Tribe to even attend an Encounter, therefore, means that his people will pay closer attention to the ideas presented by LLJ.

After the Encounter, the Paramount Chief approached LLJ’s Chief International Officer, Jim Montgomery. The impact on his life that day, and the implications for his tribe and country, were clearly evident. 

“Thank you so much,” he said, overcome with emotion. “I love you!”