Meet “Daddy Swagger”, Stylish RCCG Pastor !

daddy and pastor

Stylish pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Ibadan, Dr. Demola Jacob Adegbile, has traversed the corporate world, the public service, entrepreneurship and pastoring in the last four decades. He is a marketer, business development and general management expert. Married to Dr Olufunmi Adegbile, an entrepreneur and lecturer, the couple stylishly stands out within the church community in Ibadan. As he turns 60 years old today, the Mercedes Benz-loving pastor tells BISI OLADELE how his call into ministry changed his direction in life as well as how he has managed to maintain his stylish lifestyle as a pastor even though he believes that some people are uncomfortable with it.

HAVE you always been an evangelist?

No. I started out as a public servant. I was among those who had the privilege of working with their secondary school certificates. I worked in the Western State civil service, in the Ministry of Education between 1974 and 1975. I worked in the Inspectorate Division. I was working with those inspectors we used to fear when we were in school. I also worked with National Bank as a clerk and cashier before going for my ‘A’ Level. The experience was interesting.

I was among the first set at the then Oyo State College of Arts and Science (OSCAS), Ile-Ife. We were only nine. From there, I went to the University of Lagos where I studied Political Science. I graduated in 1982.

Then I joined the Oyo State Civil Service after my NYSC. I was posted to the Ministry of Information, Social Development, Youths and Culture. I was in the Youths Division of the Ministry. I was there until I went for my MBA at the University of Ibadan. Immediately I finished my MBA, I got a job with the West African Batteries Limited, makers of Exide batteries. I was employed as a marketing analyst. Later, I was promoted to the position of Business Development Manager. In this position, I had oversight over our market across the West Coast up to Senegal, Gambia and Ghana.

After then, I left Exide to take up a job with another private company where I had a stint. Then I started my own business, Technochips Ltd. It was a computer firm, but we leant more on training. We did a bit of hardware services. We used to maintain computers for some banks and other organisations. We had a number of engineers. We had a training school at Sango, Ibadan. We also had a business training school where we were preparing candidates for professional examinations such as ICAN, NIMARK and ICSAN.

We were there running the school (with my wife) when we decided to transform the business school to a private polytechnic. We had even obtained the form from the government. It was in our bid to accomplish it that we went back to the university to study education at post-graduate level. My wife went for masters and PhD in Educational Management while I went for same degrees in Guidance & Counseling Education, just because of the private polytechnic that we had in mind. It was in the course of doing that, that God decided to lay hold of me for the work of pastoring.

Everything that could go wrong about that business went wrong because I refused to pastor. I was already saved. I was in the church. I was a minister, doing my best but the last thing I wanted to hear was to be a pastor. Like I preach these days, when God wants you, He speaks in different kinds of languages. If He speaks the language of abundance, you may think that you are succeeding by the reason of your knowhow. God might also speak the language of want. He can speak the language of pain, lack (because that is the only thing that makes some people listen and yield). Some people will not listen until they get to the prison. That is why we have prison ministry. Some people will not listen until they are sick. That’s the only place where they can hear and yield to the call of God. That’s why we have hospital ministry. For me, I think I enjoyed the era of prosperity but I didn’t want to yield to what God really wanted – to be a pastor.

And then He switched and began to speak the language of lack. To tell the truth, it worked, because that was when I yielded. I had to obey the call. And that was why by 1998, I had to just surrender totally to what He wanted me to do. And it was when I obeyed the call that things started moving for me. So, having heeded His call, and I started pastoring, because of my new role as a pastor without pay, I prayed to God that I needed a job to pay my bills so that I could be a responsible husband and citizen. I didn’t want to be a nuisance or a pastor that looks up to the congregation for survival. Mercifully, God gave me a job, which was how I found myself in the public service again.

What is the greatest lesson you would say you have learnt In the course of your career in the public and private sectors?

One of the things I learnt early in life is that even though I didn’t know God as I do now, there is God and He is the Supreme Being, and that He is on top of every situation that one may be going through in life. I knew that God had something to do with my life even though I wasn’t relating as I should at that time. I just knew that I was born in a Christian home. I knew I didn’t know how to relate with God well.

I also learnt early in life that putting one’s trust in man is vain. I learnt that only God should be relied upon. Another thing I knew is that God’s time for anything is always the best. I believed then that God has an agenda for every individual though I didn’t have biblical evidence to back the belief, unlike now. I knew God didn’t just create people for fun – He has a purpose for them all. The way I used to see people around me striving to figure out God’s plan for them, such as consulting diviners, confirmed that. But I didn’t subscribe to that idea. I believed that there must be a cleaner, purer way of relating with God than visiting those places. I knew all of these things by instincts then. So, I knew that somehow, God would show me how He wanted me to run my life.

You must have interacted with a lot of people in the course of your career. Would you say there are a few people whose worldview or achievements influenced you?

Definitely, yes. You can’t but have some people like that. But let me quickly point out that I have found that every person you see in whatever area of endeavour, those we see as icons or role models, always have their public and private sides. A lot of times, what we see initially is the public side. So, when I look at the public side of corporate giants like Ernest Shonekan, Gamaliel Onosode, they inspired me in those days to have something to do with the private sector. On closer level, I had the privilege of working with my boss at West African Battery Ltd, Mr Adeniyi. He was the Marketing Director then. I worked with him closely and I really admired him. I learnt many things from him. He greatly influenced me, professionally. He was my hero professionally.

How were you able to remain yourself in spite of meeting and working with different types of people in different areas of life?

Don’t forget that I was already a full adult, in my late 20s when I started my career per se. At that age, one is not a kid any more. By that time, if one has not started thinking and working towards what one wants to be in life, then something is wrong somewhere. So, much as one would manifest youthful exuberance sometimes, I knew what I wanted in life. I knew the kind of company to keep and the border not to cross before one finally settled down in marriage. I was not born again at that time. I thank God that even in those few years of such freedom, I didn’t really lose track of the fact that I wanted to get ahead in life. If I didn’t know exactly the kind of people I should be moving with, to a large extent, I knew the kind of people I should not be moving with. I was a bit selective.

So, you never attempted to be Onosode or Shonekan?

At all. That is why I talked about their private and public sides. There are quite a number of people you admire for certain things but there are other areas of their lives that you don’t want. For instance, I liked Fela Anikulapo’s music but that’s all I liked about Fela. I didn’t like his lifestyle. There are several like that. Even Shonekan and Onosode, I admired their successes in the corporate world but that’s not to say I wanted to be Onosode or Shonekan. I can only be Demola Adegbile. I realised that early in life.

Whenever you remember your youthful days and remember that you are now a pastor, and now 60 years old, what comes to your mind?

I feel good. I’m very happy with my life. I have no cause to regret. In spite of whatever that may have drawn one in youthful years or whatever ambition one might have, being in Christ and serving God are the very best for anyone. I’m entering the seniors’ club gracefully and I’m looking forward to it.

You are stylish and fashionable. As a pastor, you still keep your sense of fashion and style. Do you observe that people possibly talk about your keeping trendy as a pastor?

I am aware that people talk about me in that area (fashion). I know. Some have said it to my face. In fact, there is a church in the United States of America where they refer to me as Daddy Swagger. Even here in Ibadan, I know they say such things about me. I have not found anything in the scriptures to tell me that there is anything wrong in dressing well. Don’t forget that as a pastor, part of my functions is being a role model to some people. I have to live by example. Apart from preparing sermons, preaching and counseling people, my job is also to stand as an icon to inspire people.

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God calls many people into the work of ministry and sends them to different kinds of people. There are some kinds of people who cannot relate with my kind of pastor. For one, they cannot even afford to dress well. And some, because of that, begin to despise dressing well. That is the fact of life. Some things that some people believe that they cannot reach at that point in time, they begin to despise.

Does that move you?

Of course, no. I recognise the fact that I’m not sent to everyone. It is not every Christian that I am sent to. Some will say this pastor is too dressy. Some people want you to look like them before they relate with you or receive from you. So, the people that I am sent to are blessed by my ministry, and I am comfortable with that.

What are your best colours?

Basically I like black. It is a basic colour and goes very well with other colours. It is not loud. It is a sober colour. Black is my favourite colour. Next to it is white. Then several other things in-between.

Who is the most important person in your life?

My wife.

How long have you been married?

We have been together for almost 40 years but we have been married for 36 years.

Is she involved in decisions about your fashion and style?

Yes. We complement one another. She has input in my style and fashion decisions.

You are a Mercedes Benz-loving pastor. What do you consider special about this brand of car?

I like Benz because Mercedes Benz makers themselves made the claim that it is the number one automobile product in the world. Maybe it was a mere marketing statement, but I agree with them absolutely. If you understand power, I am not a racer, but I like a powerful car that can, if there is need to make a demand on the power of the engine, the power is there. Benz is known for don’t look unto man for reward or anything. Look up to God.

You are a humorous pastor. Has your humour ever landed you in trouble?

I cannot recall humour landing me in trouble. But I know that humour is a tool itself. You cannot succeed in anything, including ministry, without a sense of humour. You cannot wear a stone face and be very serious all the time. You cannot be totally humourless and expect people to flow with you. That’s what I do mostly. When you want to tell them the truth, raise a joke or two and that will make them relax and open themselves up for you to slam them with the truth. It works.

Humour is a tool in ministry. It is a tool even in the boardroom as a manager in a corporate establishment. We must learn to put people at ease if you want to cast your vision and make them buy into your idea. Yes, we have to sound professional and serious to convey the fact that you know what you are talking about but you also try to inject humour into your communication to show the human side of you and make people to easily relate with you. You can’t but inject humour into life.

You are 60 years old now. How do you feel being 60?

I feel very good.

If you had the chance of another life, would you still like to be a pastor?

I plan to write another book soon. The title will be ‘Days I wished I wasn’t a Pastor.’ So, I’m not just going to jump at that and say ‘yes.’ Pastoring can be tough, but if God says that’s what He wants for you, then you do not have a choice. I didn’t opt to be a pastor but God insisted I should be. He used Proverbs 19:21 to instruct me: ‘Many are the devices in the heart of man, nevertheless, the counsel of God shall stand.’ If God says you will be a pastor for Him, no matter what else you do, success will elude you. Then Isaiah 45:9 says ‘Woe unto him who strives with his maker.’ I once strove with Him and I know what I suffered. So, if I had another chance and God insists I should be a pastor, I have no choice. Left to me, pastoring is not all that easy. What people see is the prestige part of it. But there are other parts. For instance, one of the days I wished I wasn’t a pastor was the day I had to travel from Ibadan to a town in Ogun State to tell a man that his son, who was a member of my church, hanged himself. I was the one who had to go and break the sad news. That morning, I wished I wasn’t a pastor. Sometimes you find yourself in-between a feuding couple and you see that though individually they are good people but the pastor has to be in-between striving hard to make the marriage work.

In summary, pastoring is a noble calling, nonetheless. Apart from being a preacher, you are also finance manager, human resources manager (because you have to know who is fit for what role), public relations manager (as the face of the church) etc. I subscribe to the notion that if you succeed as a pastor, you will succeed in anything that you do. It is like running a mini nation as it were. CEOs do the same thing. They make decisions on behalf of the organization. Your ministers in church are your line managers. You know their strengths and weaknesses and put them where they can be most productive. So, being a pastor is a great thing.

When I said that I won’t readily say yes, it is because you think you don’t want that career as your priority. In the Bible, you will also see that most people that God called and used greatly are those who believed they were not cut or ready for the job. Overconfident people fail because it is not the right attitude to pastoring. If you have been pastoring truly and you have recorded any success at all, you will understand that it is not because you are smart or something. 1Thessalonians 5:24 says faithful is He who has called you who Himself will do it. If you think it is your own strength and might that give you the success, you deceive yourself.

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