“The easy confidence with which I know another man’s religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.”
― Mark Twain
Hi kids, welcome to today’s episode. I know some of you have seen some of those pastors around, flying in private jets and driving cars you will never afford and you’ve wondered to yourself, ‘how can I become like this?’ Well, you’re in luck because I’ve also thought about this and after gathering years of study of most of the pastors we have in our great country, I have carefully gotten down the whole process to just five very simple steps. Yes, just five. So, if you’ve been looking for an answer then look no more, my friend, I’ve got your solution right here. In five simple steps, you too can become one of the many hypocritical charlatans that graze our land every day. So, let’s begin, shall we?
The first step is critical and involves two stages. Firstly, you must have a significant story. The ‘rags to riches’ plot, though an old and clearly overused cliché is still a powerful story that is able to generate even the tiniest sparks of belief from the coldest of hearts. It sends a message of ‘hey, I did this despite all of my circumstances and that means you can too.’ The credibility of this story doesn’t matter of course, don’t be silly. You’re not in this for the truth, you’re in this for the money and power. Other story lines you can use include the ‘I was in bad gang and now I’m in good gang, thanks to the Holy Spirit,’ or the famous ‘I was just on my own living life and God shined a light on me and gave me inspiration to build a church and extort all of you’. Though, you may need to paraphrase that one a bit. But remember, you must have something that marks you out, something that makes you seem exceptional, unnatural and … divine, even. This will later add to your spiritual reputation. When you have that covered, you have to work on the second stage of this step, creating a vision.
Now, it doesn’t really matter what it is but there are some key things you must keep in mind. At all costs, make sure it is as vague and cryptic as possible. See, when a vision is vague, you leave it open to interpretation and because of this, more people are exposed to being baited by this vision. What is the vagueness test, you ask? Try telling your vision to an educated individual, did they give you an eyebrow raise followed by a gentle eye roll? Congratulations, you’re on the right way. To further emphasize this vagueness, make speeches with a lot of enthusiasm, so much so that people don’t even notice the gaping holes in your logic. Use words of romance, belief and hope and don’t forget to attribute your authority to God when challenged, that’s essential. Any man or woman alone can be challenged, fought and brought down. But who’s going to want to take on someone backed by the omnipotent omniscient god? Right, no one.
Now that we’re done with the first step, let’s move on to the second. Creating a sizable followership is very important. Though you have eyes on power, it is going to come from all the people that believe in you. So, you must pander to the crowd. Make them want to come. Offer prophetic visions or spiritual guidance, reel those sheep in. The use of hugely generic phrases has been one that spurs people on and spreads word of your power even more. The organisation of miracles is also not beneath you at this stage, remember we’re in this for the clout. For miracles, it’s best to stage physical disabilities over mental ones as Nigerians still believe depression and anxiety are ailments brought about by the devil. When addressing your crowd, make sure, they’ll spread news of you after the service and bring their friends and family, so here are some stock phrases you can practice in your free time and use when addressing them to make sure you stick to their minds and they bring in more people.
“In this crowd, I see that somebody has lost a loved one. God tells me that you will be fine in Jesus name!” — yes, along with almost everybody else who has lost a loved one.
“Somebody here, I don’t know who, is struggling with an addiction. The Lord has blessed me with the authority to tell you that you shall overcome.” — I mean it’s not like most people don’t struggle from addictions of all sorts.
“You have been experiencing financial difficulties, but the Holy Spirit is telling me that your pockets, like the cup in psalm 23, will soon overflow” –most if not all of them will have financial difficulties, that’s why they came to you in the first place.
Like in step one, vagueness is your most powerful weapon and you must use it.
On to step three and this one is very important and I cannot stress this enough. You must, under all circumstances, disguise your source of income. Wow, your followership has now grown but you don’t ever want to show the hunger for power or the money it brings so play it cool, brother/sister. It is now that you must cleverly disguise how you really make money. See, your followers want — nay — need, to believe that if they follow you all sorts of good things will happen to them, by surrounding yourself with numerous private jets and state-of-the-art cars, you become irrefutable proof of that belief system.
At this stage, you must make it seem like you have other things on the side, businesses and the like but never reveal that your actual source of income is from your followers themselves. All their tithes, offerings and ‘donations’ are in fact going to be used to further your own pockets but make it seem like your money is coming from the truth of your methods. Steadily but surely become the proof that what you’re preaching is true, all the while tricking these people into believing that you’re legitimate. Send a message of ‘Hey, look at me, what I’m doing is working. Come and join me and you too can be rich but drop your riches on the altar for God, you don’t need those, I’ll show you the way.’
Step four is a tricky one that involves utmost delicacy. You must set up a dynamic that involves an Us-Versus-Them kind of thinking. For what is an army without an enemy to fight? See this is a step that is going to involve preventing the seemingly inevitable.
Your group is now a thriving organism but after a while, the glamour of it all will fall off and your followers will learn the truth. To prevent this, firstly make it seem that this is an exclusive group. Make them feel not just lucky but blessed to even be a part of this organisation. Unify them with a goal or vision and make them all chase after this vision. Done that? Good. Now you need to strengthen their unity and keep the blindfold on their eyes so now you must have an enemy for them to fight against. You know those people that tried to expose you as the worthless charlatan you in fact are? Paint them as the enemy, as the unbelievers, turn them into miniature devils. This will also make your followers believe in you more because, I mean, you’re worth even fighting. If you don’t have an enemy, no fear, just manufacture one. Paint maybe even another group of people in a religion as the enemy. Congratulations, your power and riches are now growing to extraordinary heights.
The fifth step is more of an auxiliary and because of its nature, mostly works in countries like Nigeria. You have a thriving church and a believing congregation but now you have to ensure that your vision is passed down to the next generation and so forth. Remember, we need money and power and these come from the people. More sheep, more mula.
So what do you do? Set up a school, of course. Remember, you don’t have any educational experience but don’t worry, when challenged simply attribute your actions to God’s commands and you’re scot-free. ‘Hey, sorry if you’re uncomfortable but God told me to do this so maybe you should argue with him’. See the effect it has? Pure genius.
Build up this school however you want, it can be a primary or secondary school or better yet, a university. This would allow you to latch on to a large population when they’re young and influence them however you wish. See, young people are always going about, trying to find themselves in this world and by giving them a purpose, you will have them eating out of your hand till they die or of course, open their eyes. Now, with your university, make sure you make it private, remember that you’re still cultivating the idea that this is a select unique group. And also, make it expensive. Though this doesn’t coincide with the Christian belief, who cares? Nobody can challenge you now. When asked why your school fees are so high, answer saying something like ‘God’s wrath will be upon whoever challenges this, my school fees are a command from God’. It works every single time.
Well, we’re at the end and you are now a rich Nigerian pastor. You can now join the ranks of the many hypocritical men and women who have managed to deceive most of the populace. Having a large number of lawsuits chasing you because of sexual abuse or flagrant abuse of power is also not beneath you but you are unstoppable now. So, go forth, my apprentice and spread your false doctrine to the gullible people — especially poor ones — and have then eating out of your hand until they die.