What started as a careful exposition of the relationship between dominion and excellence on the third night of the 66th convention of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) turned into a serious challenge for the spiritual growth of Christians.
And, as Enoch Adeboye, General Overseer of RCCG, preached on, challenging his listeners to take dominion and show excellence, thousands of people in the auditorium went quiet. He wondered why some people choose to be ordinary Christians or ask God, who has so much to give, for little things.
"For how long are you going to be average?" he asked at a point.
The sermon titled "The spirit of Excellence," was his second during the weeklong Convention, holding at the Redemption Camp of the church. He read from Daniel 6: 1-3.
After his usual opening prayers with the full participation of the congregation and the signature "Let somebody shout Halleluyah," to which they responded with shouts of Halleluyah, Mr Adeboye announced the number of births at the church's facility during the convention. As at that night, 50 babies, 26 boys and 24 girls, had been born. The happy Congregation cheered that.
He also gave a sanitation report of the Redemption Camp, where participants from the various provinces of the church are staying for the convention. The church is noted for cleanliness even during programmes that attract large numbers of people. The congregation also cheered the winners.
But from that point the atmosphere became somber and thickened like a cold blanket. Citing many examples, Mr Adeboye showed that even what we describe as good situations and achievements could be improved upon or made better. Good can be better!
For example, he said, after the week of creation, as the Bible put it, "God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good... "
But in a few verses later, God had to get man a companion: "God said, "It's not good for the Man to be alone; I'll make him a helper, a companion."
"So God formed from the dirt of the ground all the animals of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the Man to see what he would name them. Whatever the Man called each living creature that was its name.
"The Man named the cattle, named the birds of the air, named the wild animals; but he didn't find a suitable companio
God put the Man into a deep sleep. As he slept he removed one of his ribs and replaced it with flesh. God then used the rib that he had taken from the Man to make Woman and presented her to the Man.
Mr Adeboye said great men of God like Daniel, Joseph and Paul had the spirit of excellence and that they kept getting better.
According to him, what is common to people with the spirit of excellence is that they are never satisfied with where they are; they strife to get higher and higher in the will of God.
He cited an experience at the Redemption Camp after the building of the first auditorium. "When we built the first auditorium near the expressway, it was 100 metres by 50 metres, it was the biggest auditorium in Africa at that time.
"In fact, some of my children came to me and said we didn't have to worry anymore about space; that all we needed to do was to build a wall round it and have the biggest church. I laughed.
Two year later, we had to expand it; a year later we had to double the size; and a year later we had to increase the size. Compare that with where we are now and compare where we are to where we are going."
The General Overseer said he felt uncomfortable with some Christians who settle down with the little they have, without further aspiration.
He recalled the reaction of some on his ministers to the charge to double the church each year. He said he was disappointed over insinuations that it was impossible because doubling the church every year simply translates into every member of the church bringing a new member a year.
"Your father in heaven has more to give!" he stressed."Get your vision high. Your vision must be so high that it will require God to accomplish."
He continued: "How can you insult God by your small request; how can you limit God. How can you ask for healing at a certain stage of your Christian life when you should be healing people, raising people from the dead?
Recalling another experience, he said after becoming the General Overseer, he cried desperately to God he didn't want to be an ordinary pastor and God answered in an earth tremor at the Redemption Camp and environs.
"In those days, nobody lived at the Redemption Camp. I am sure some of the elders of the church would remember when one day an antelope bumped into our ministers' conference. Poor animal, it ended up in the stomach of some people.
Early in the morning every Tuesday, I would leave our house in Mushin for the Camp and be there until Thursday morning when I went to the Headquarters for Faith Clinic. The only other people in the Camp then were the carpenters who were working, and they would stop as soon as it was dark and retire for the day.
But I wanted to seek Him; I wanted to be alone; with no noise and nothing to distract me. One night - I remember that night like yesterday - I prayed: "Father, I surrender all; it is only you now; that is all I want. I don't want to be an ordinary pastor. Please, I am not seeking anything else. Not seeking for gold, not seeking for clothes, not seeking for fame; I want you to empower me so I can do this work. And if you are not going to do it, take me away.
"That day, He answered, and there was a tremor in the Camp. The tremor went as far as Ijebu Ode where pictures that hung on the wall were falling.
When you seek God with all your heart; when you seek Him in desperation, you will find Him."
"For how long are you going to be average and under dominion of Satan?" He asked, his optics in a serious -no-joking mode.
Throughout the sermon, there were no words of knowledge and testimonies were few.
The call to the altar attracted a large number of people, who were made to participate in a 30-minute congregational prayer for God to release His spirit of Excellence on the congregation.