TALES OF A MUSIC MINISTER: I was just going around with joy doing my minstry and comes back home, sometimes, with nothing to eat.

Clakson Ikwnnze, an Abia state born blogger, gospel music minster, has been a music minister since he was nine and has never looked back. His ministry took a top-notch dimension when he entered the University of Nigeria, Nsukka Campus. He started as Music Director of his fellowship, Christ Ambassador Student Outreach, CASOR, to being the Vice-President of the same fellowship before serving as Music Director of the umbrella body of Christian fellowships on his campus, Joint Christian Body. He is brimming with wisdom garnered from his years of experience. For Brojid.com, Joseph Dinwoke sat down with to share his experience as a gospel music minster on campus. His experiences are voluminous, that’s why we serve it in piece meal. For this week, he shares the challenges of leadership and how he surmounted them and what any aspiring music minster must arm him with to do well.   Please sit back and savour this week meal.

Please tell me a bit about yourself.

My name is Clarkson Ikwunze from Abia State and first of four kids. I am just a music minister, writer and facebooker.

Facebooker! Ehe, how do you come up with the inspirational stuffs you update on your facebook wall?

I would say that it’s a product of reading and reading and study. The more I study, the more I get to know and we are privileged to share with people so that they can get blessed too.

You are a music minister. Please when did you start singing?

I started singing actively at nine; leading worship in church.

We found that you were actively involved in campus fellowship: once CASOR vice President, two times JCB music director and two times music director of your fellowship.But many people shy a way from joining campus fellowship for fear of being distracted from their academics. What’s your experience?

That’s hundred per cent falsehood. Fellowship doesn’t make you fail. It doesn’t make you lose focus. Actually, it grants you focus. It’s about life management not time management.

How has it been being a music minister since you were nine?

It’s been nice doing music ministry from that early age. I remember one of those times we were doing worship in church and felt on top of the world. Among my peers, I looked quite exceptional since I was the only person who could do what I was doing at that time.

I went to secondary school and joined the choral club; served more like a music director there and built my musical career greatly. Before we left school, we had a music group, Da Springs with the motto: flowing forever. We started as an accepella group and it was fun. We ministered both in church and secular settings. Our idea of gospel music then was anything that had a message. It mustn’t have Jesus or God in it. As long as it has a message, it’s gospel. Songs like the I’m the world’s Greatest .

Then, I came to campus. There I started actual music ministry and it has been wonderful from one campus fellowship to another, travelling outside campus, outside state and I’ve been a bit across the borders.

You were JCB Music Director twice. How were you able to coordinate people from different fellowships?

It was quite challenging but interesting. I got into office and told myself that I must not go through here without causing a change.

I determined that I won’t leave the place the way I met it. So, I decided to set the pace for those coming behind me. After serving, I knew we were not done and as God would have it, we were re-elected.

Tell us about any challenge you encountered working with people to achieve the goal you set out to.

JCB is not anybody’s fellowship. It’s a conglomerate of many campus fellowship bodies. So, most times it’s difficult to pull people to come for the meetings when they have other activities going on in their fellowships. So, we try to understand with them.

At a point we recorded a remarkable change. It got to a time that we were recording up to 200 persons in attendance during rehearsal.

You have been into this business of music ministry for over a decade. From your experience, what lessons do you have a share with someone who is trying to start?

First and foremost, I want to say that you should place God first as your focus. Whatever ministry it is, if God is not the focus, you are bound to derail. There are many distractions that try to sway music ministers away from their calling.

Having God as their focus has a way of making them disciplined in their assignment and pay attention to details in ministry.

Secondly, I have noticed an era of music ministers who love the anointing so much that they neglect skill. It’s very pathetic! I have found that secular artistes put in so much to get the best for their music and people are after it with all passion.

Watch their videos and you see they are fantastic videos – nice colours, editing and the sound is tight.

But when it comes to gospel music, we do it shabby. We don’t spend money. We don’t invest in it because we think everybody just buys it but that’s exactly why it doesn’t sell. We just do the much we can and get out of the place. Excellence must be our watchword in music ministry. If we have to move further from where we are today, we must keep excellence as a fore front of our minds.

The anointing is good but we must get skill involved. I must say that God is not impressed with off-key or poor sound system. Yea…he’s not. I don’t mean God is going to kick you out if you sing off-key any way. But it has a way of making ministers very epileptic. It just makes the whole thing go shabby.

How do you feel when you have ministered to people; they are blessed, yet your pocket is empty?

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I feel fulfilled because the fulfillment of ministry is not basically about you being blessed. It’s about people being blessed.

There has to be some technicalities that stir people up. I noticed that many places I go for ministrations, they pay little or no attention to their sound system.

What am I saying? Anybody who is going into ministry should get God first and secondly develop yourself. It means going out for materials and building yourself; nobody will build yourself for you. You have to do that for yourself. Thirdly, I advice anybody going into music ministry to watch money.

Why money?

Money is a force which if you are not careful about it might rule you.  We should master money and not money mastering us. What I’m saying is that most of the times, I have gone to minister, I went on empty pockets. I didn’t get anybody to pay me. I was just going around with joy doing my ministry and blessing lives and come back home; sometimes with nothing to eat.

How do you feel when you have ministered to people; they are blessed, yet your pocket is empty?

I feel fulfilled because the fulfillment of ministry is not basically about you being blessed. It’s about people being blessed.

Does the fulfillment remain there when people are blessed and your landlord is asking for rent and there is no money to pay?

Ah! Fulfillment still stays. It’s difficult anyway. But one of the things that happen is that we were able to look beyond now and see the future. What has kept me going is that I see a glorious future. Not everybody sees the future.

But what do you think is the reason why many gospel artistes are not supported financially?

It could be because we have people who don’t see reasons to honour music ministers. They just think that music ministers are just normal people. So, they just give them some change and they believe they are fine.

I think we should honour and encourage our music ministers. When we do that we encourage their ministry and they will be able to do more.

Someone stopped me in one of the events we went for recently and he was like “Have you done an album? I replied, “Not really, we are working on it. We have songs already and then he prayed and I went my way. I was expecting him to probably write a cheque. (General Laughter)

You see, we need money to do an album and not just prayer. At present to do a track costs you about N25, 000 naira. That’s on a moderate level. Now, when you go for top class studios, you are talking about 50k for a track if you want something good that can sell outside the borders of Nigeria; not just local stuff.

We are not begging for money; we have been doing this for a long time. I like to challenge music ministers not to beg for money.

I have come to understand is that I can’t be paid. You can’t pay me because I carry something that is priceless. Like I always tell my friends, “I was paid before I was sent. You didn’t send me; God sent me and he took care of the bills. So, if you are going to give me anything for ministering it is just to say, “Thank you for coming around.”

Keep your integrity.

But what about charging your host before you come to minister?

I don’t charge!

But why?

It’s a principle for me. But for some others they charge. I know people who take 450,000 naira just to minister in a place. You must pay it into their account before they come.

We are able not to do this  because of what we know. You must understand that there is a value for what you carry and one thing I have come to understand is that I can’t be paid. You can’t pay me because I carry something that is priceless. Like I always tell my friends, “I was paid before I was sent. You didn’t send me; God sent me and he took care of the bills. So, if you are going to give me anything for ministering it is just to say, “Thank you for coming around.”

But when you don’t give, I come with my fare to and fro. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t honour ministers. We need to strike the balance.

We don’t charge but when people come to minister in your events, I believe you should treat them as ministers. You should learn to appreciate them properly.

I don’t charge because I don’t know how I will tell you to pay in some thousands into my account and when you don’t I  won’t  come to minister. Does that mean that God’s blessing have a price tag?

(We’ll bring you the second part of this conversation next Week.)

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Joseph Dinwoke

Chief Content Officer at Brojid World
Joseph 'Brojid' Dinwoke, Radio producer/OAP at Radio Nigeria Voice96.7FM, and publicist, is the curator of Brojid.com. At Brojid World, he creates contents and provides training, mentoring, coaching and inspiration for peak performance in your life and work through blog posts, podcasts, books and training. You can follow him on social media by clicking on any of these social media icons. To get his daily inspirational and insightful broadcast on WhatsApp, connect with him with: 0810 550 4664

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