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Competitive Religion

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Oh well, this is not about whose Benz, Jeep or Jet is bigger. It’s about an eroding core.

A friend pointed out to me how there was no kindness in her religious centre. I did not let her land:

Me: You belong there , and you have been there for two years.
Her: It’s not up to two but it’s over one.
Me: You are part of the problem. New comers look at you and wonder why you are not kind. Why not solve the problem?

She took it in and mused.

In reality, we often wait for others to bring good on board while we do nothing. As colleagues, we wonder why no one announces and celebrates our birthdays, yet we do not bother to know when they were born. I joined an organisation and observed that a particular person alerts me about the birthdays of members of our department (he bought cake and drinks on my own birthday). I learnt later that the idea came with him (not the complaint). Now it has caught on; if he doesn’t send, some else will!

Many of us wonder why we are out of church for weeks on end and no one calls; no one seems to ever notice. It’s just because we have never noticed the absence of others! Or if we did, we never called them; we let it pass!

There was a couple that joined a church to which I belonged. They seemed to bring a glow with them. They were beautiful and peaceful. As they got more involved they made friends and visited families at home. In time, the families (we) returned the visits. Opportunities to do things together arose and a strong network, an enviable one, was built. It’s only with hindsight that I recall someone telling me there was no love in church. After these couple came, no one in our circle could say that.

Hebrews 10.24

And let us consider one another to prpvoke unto love and to good works (KJV).
OR
And let us be moving one another at all times to love and good works (BBE).

Romans 12:10

Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honour (HCSBF)
OR
As to brotherly love, kindly affectioned towards one another:
As to honour, each taking the lead in paying it to the other.

Two key points for the competition God expects of us:

- Outdo one another in good;
– You take the lead!

An ovation?

myles munroe

An ovation?

Sad news that Myles Munroe died, now, and in a plane crash. He lived a life of impact and he succeeded at moving from “very poor” to “very rich” in the same community.

About his death, I pressed my “black” button and began to wonder:

  • Did he commit any last minute sin that made God “forsake” him to “fate” at that last moment?
  • Maybe he did not have time to pray that morning.
  • Didn’t he recite Psalm 91 every morning?
  • Could it be that his stepmum is still alive and she bewitched his jet?
  • Or another thriving pastor in the Bahamas was jealous and so bewitched him?

 

Then I “unblacked” and saw another perspective. Would Myles Munroe actually fly a private jet poorly maintained? Doubtful!

A few weeks ago, I explained to a friend why “I will never exceed a particular “self-imposed” speed limit: after working in a tyre manufacturing company, I trust every single thing on a car (within my engineering limits) except the four tyres. I have seen car tyres x-rayed, and I know how quickly the mistake of one disgruntled factory worker could kill many people at a time.

Are planes fail-safe?

I flipped another button again and I saw a different perspective

  1. Myles Munroe was never death-shy! He kept emphasising the need to contemplate our mortality: remember that you will die!
  2. Preaching on one occasion, he said he had attended his own funeral (in his mind) and that he was permitting no one to sorrow at his funeral. He said that if anyone shed a tear at his funeral, he would wake up, slap the person and then die again—we sure had a good laugh!
  3. He also said that he had attended his wife’s funeral in his mind, since he did not know which would be first. Incidentally, both coincided.

I will always remember Myles Munroe for his novel response to journalists on homosexuality. You have not heard it because journalists did not report it. He was asked for his position on homosexuality. He answered that as an Ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven, he had no position; “but I can tell you the position of the kingdom I represent. The bible says, ‘…’” At that point he said that the journalists usually thinned out.

So how does heaven welcome successful Ambassadors?

 

Congrats Senior!

See you one day in heaven!

 

Peace-time Soldiers

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Scarcely would anyone associate soldiers with peace…except on a second thought. Yet soldiers are more about peace than war. This is certainly not about the once-popular political soldiering and coup d’etat.

Mankind will always contend, hence the need to defend. But while humans are naturally-occurring, soldiers are not. Soldiers are made. The making of a good soldier is involving and takes years. The soldier has to be physically differentiated, mentally prepared, and also adequately equipped for leadership since soldiering is a team sport.

When men are hurriedly conscripted into the army at war-times, time for, and depth of training is drastically reduced and such soldiers are equally hurriedly discharged after the war…those who survive it. Abraham Lincoln was once so conscripted. He was immediately made a Captain. By the time he was discharged, he had gone all the way to the unhigh rank of a Private! He was not prepared.

So, while soldiers are meant to ensure peace, it takes peace to make a good soldier. (catch 22?)

Like our nations, individual lives also need to contend from time to time to ensure competence, “sovereignty”, and territorial integrity. And just as for soldiering,  we need to prepare  when there is no need!

We need to be in shape physically before a demand is placed on stamina.
We need to develop our competence  before competence will be used for differentiation.
We need to dig a well before we are thirsty,  to plant a seed before we are hungry.
We need to prepare and equip our soldiers even though there is no need!

Time-Time-Time!

time now

We used to have debates when we were in secondary school. A wonderful debater senior is today a medical doctor. One day when he was beautifully articulating his points during a debate before the student population of over 2,000 students, the bell went off on him. He stopped and sighed. Then he said, “Time! Time can time me but I cannot time time. With all I have said…” His presentation was clear, his closing, novel, the applause, deafening! Time is most critical!

I got tired of seeing the same contact appearing multiple times on my phone due to multiple email/social media synchronization. So a few days ago, I began to merge, to delete and generally tidy up. I was amazed at the number of my contacts that have crossed to the great beyond! Just then, something seemed to whisper to me, “The number will only increase…with time!”

How true!

The last few months have been traumatic for news watchers: from Chibok, to Ebola, to ISIS, to poverty, to lack of potable water, etc. The big issue is not a problem to report, but which of the many problems should be put in the spotlight! The earth (physical system) is convulsing; the social system (world) is contorting.

Some say that Jesus is coming soon, others say that the world is about to end. Still some believe that these events are normal, just that information technology has only made us more and quicker aware of so many unpleasant events. Not sure which to follow?

In secondary school again, a year after that memorable debate, there was the news that the world would end on the 28th of October. One of my friends invited me to join a study from the 21st of October: a study of the behaviour of fellow students as the D-day approached. We would sit out and watch how fellow students behaved in class, in the hostels, on the assembly ground, in the dining hall, etc. We also noticed a few new and even brighter stars in the sky (today we know they are satellites). On the D-day, it was a Wednesday. Usually, the senior boys were unruly and never prayed during assembly, but that day everybody behaved; they bowed their heads during prayers. Kay and I were busy observing instead of praying! This says what? While we are not sure if Jesus is coming this night or the world is ending tomorrow morning or another big bang is about to happen or something, everyone is concerned about what happens after tomorrow!

It’s only the ostrich that sticks its head in the sand to hide from its fears, forgetting that the bulk of its body is not under the sand.  Wouldn’t it be wise to ask for the way??

Sleeping and …?

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Years ago, I worked in an organisation in which, officially, a worker caught sleeping on duty twice would be summarily dismissed. While I was there, no one was officially caught twice; it was always a first time! You know, you’d walk up to a dozing colleague and wake him up saying, “That’s your first time.” We would roar with laughter and everyone would be wide awake and carry on with work.

It was a fast-paced environment both for the brain and for the feet; a senior could call you and ask why you were walking slowly like one who had nothing to do!! It was an environment in which the prime motivation for work was fear…and there was no hiding place except outside the gates! We certainly were not lazy; it was the practice to jump down from the company’s staff bus caught in traffic to hop on a two-legged to get to the office in good time. Working two shifts back-to-back was no big deal though to get paid for extra hours was highly debatable.

Let’s flip over our minds and imagine a work environment in which fulfilment is the prime motivation; where mistakes are not punished but learnt from. An environment where the boss knows the names of the spouses and children of the team members!

My mind was looking for that environment sometime ago and I found it!

I found one who is not hunting for mistakes but looks for opportunities to praise and affirm;

I found one who identifies stumbling blocks on the path and guides over them safely;

I found one who gives difficult tasks and watches proteges ignore valuable tools and embark on unsustainable journeys; what does he do? He sends the necessary help and provisions to key milestones on the path;

I found one who always knows when people are tired, and he generously lavishes rest breaks;

I found that no matter how much mankind can try, there could be no better Father than God!

War of the Currents

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I came across a book about Nikola Tesla. He was said to be the inventor of the 20th century. That caught my attention. If he was so key, how come I did not know him!

Well, he was born a European boy and he was technically inclined. He admired Thomas Edison’s inventions especially of electricity, and he proceeded to get a job in the Edison company in France. From there, he struggled to get to America, get a job at the Edison company and meet Thomas Edison in person.

Nikola had conceptualized “alternating current” and he believed it would be possible to transmit it over long distances, unlike Edison’s direct current. Edison turned down the idea and Nikola left to look for an investor.

As Nikola’s dream progressed, Edison waged a media war against him, telling America and the world that alternating current kills. Edison proceeded to demonstrate this by first killing stray dogs and then criminals condemned to death, with alternating current.

Nevertheless, alternating current won. Edison later confessed that turning Nikola down was the biggest mistake he ever made.

But then, did alternating current win? Truly, alternating current proved more efficient to transmit over long distances, but it has not eliminated the use of direct current; the world uses both. Several equipment run on alternating current, several more run on direct current. Many devices convert from one to the other.

Today, we find people and companies at war, misjudging potential collaborators as competitors. For instance, there is a community of 1,000 people with each person in need of a certain service. A businessman cashes in on the opportunity but he has the capacity to service only 250 people. After 2 years, another business man comes in with a capacity for 150 people. The two business men immediately see each other as competitors; as sworn enemies.

Out of a demand of 1,000, the sum of their individual capacities supplies 400 (40%), and they consider each other an enemy. Maybe if they collaborated, they could synergise and meet 50% of the demand or even 60%, with their profits only rising! Maybe if they worked together, they could muster funds to expand their investments, etc.

But sometimes, percieved competitors are better off as collaborators!

NB: Nikola Tesla did transmit electricity wirelessly!

Constellation

Einstein lived here

When God wanted to bless Father Abraham, He told him to look up at the stars to catch a glimpse of what his progeny would look like. If we look at the stars tonight, we will not only be impressed by the quantity (innumerable), but also by the quality (various intensities of glow). Same with mankind; some stars shine brighter than others.

A professor of chemistry told us in 1997 that Albert Einstein died recently…in 1955! We roared with laughter: how could 1955 be recent!? The most impressive picture that I have seen about Einstein was one that showed several planets. On one of the planets was a poster: Albert Einstein lived here. That was planet earth. What an impact Albert Einstein made on earth that would have made him worthy of note on other planets–if they have life!

The Nigerian Federal budget for 2014 is roughly 5 trillion naira. Sharing this equally among 167million people, each person gets about 30,000 naira. Bad enough! If one or two officials steal 3 billion naira in 2014, they have deprived 10,000 Nigerians and called the bluff of their lives. Conversely, if one woman saves the lives of 10,000 Nigerians, she has called the bluff of 3 billion naira. Not only that; she has also put to shame those who live and die for billions.

Such is the impact of the great star, Professor Dora Akunyili, former Drug/Food Law Enforcement Chief in Nigeria who died on the 7th of June 2014.

About a week ago, a public officer who visited her on her death bed rightly expressed that the death of an average politician in Nigeria is celebrated. But that the thoughts of the death of Dora did send cold shivers down the spine of the average Nigerian. If there were a Presidential Cemetry, she should be buried there! History curriculum needs be updated with her story and impact–a true example of patriotism. She saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of hapless Nigerians from the lethal greed of local drug peddlers and their offshore collaborators.

Congrats to the Akunyilis whose mother has left a good name that opens doors.
Kudos to “Mr akunyili,” an epitome of security who allowed his wife to live!

I think the map of the world should show “Dora Akunyili lived here” over Nigeria this month!

Good Woman, Great Star!!

Time for change

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Charles Dickens wrote Oliver Twist in his twenties with the goal of calling the attention of the populace to the plight of the unfortunately poverty-stricken street children of  England. He succeeded at it. As a journalist, he later went ahead to encourage George Muller’s orphanages by writing about the good care he saw there when he visited.

Just musing over the unthinkable plight of the abducted Chibok girls, my mind went through the years. Before this, boys were killed in a federal government school. Because I attended such, it made me shudder. I imagined if gunmen had raided our hostels in 1990…in pitch darkness. The same men who would not have escaped without casualties in the daylight would have decimated us in hundreds at night. But them boys were killed and that was all. Before this, graduates on national service were killed at the slightest provocation…but we let it go. Before this, public peace was disturbed; private vehicles were vandalized; bonfires were set on roads. Do I see a trend? A crescendo? Rehearsals for what today we bewail!

Every little vice we ignore especially because we are not yet statistically connected is a seed. If we cried out when a few guys were killed in Jos and we mounted pressure so that the perpetrators were brought to book, we would have communicated that we place high value on one another. But better late than never!

There is a lesson we must learn: If we do nothing, nothing will happen!

A second beautiful lesson is that every little effort helps! A few people were concerned that the world was looking away from Chibok and they went to worry CNN’s Facebook wall…till the whole world gave attention. Since then, every comment we make sensitizes; every #bringbackourgirls we post either embarasses or stirs some conscience!

May we have our girls back soon. Where else do we direct our efforts? What other mountain do we bore through we our small-but-mighty hammers??

 

 

 

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

-  MARTIN NIEMÖLLER

 

 

 

Second Fiddle

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When I was in primary school, I read about 2 men who went to a concert. There were all kinds of musical instruments that fascinated them and they began identifying and discussing them. The more knowledgeable man pointed out the second fiddle and explained that this instrument plays more of an assistant role, and it is subordinate to the lead or first fiddle. By the way, the fiddle is often also known as the violin.

The friend listened attentively, remained silent, and finally responded, “If I played the second fiddle, I’d never rest; I’d train and practice until I could play the first fiddle.”

The moral of the story then was for us to ensure that we do everything to be the best at whatever we do. And that is fine and fair. However, what could be wrong with playing the second fiddle?

1. the 2nd fiddle could just be to fill gaps and keep an extra instrumentalist busy;

2. the 2nd fiddle could be a seasoned accompaniment that makes the work of the lead fiddle easier;

3. the 2nd fiddle could be a backup lead fiddle, working along until an emergency makes him needed.

 

In the course of time, I have found that the 2nd fiddle is not necessarily technically subordinate to the lead fiddle. He is only subordinate in musical arrangement! In fact, it is possible for both instrumentalists to swap roles in the course of the same musical piece, or to swap instruments in the course of the same concert!

What then really makes the 2nd fiddle subordinate to the 1st fiddle? The mind!

Many times in life, we hold on to leadership thinking that sharing power means losing power. This makes us struggle at tasks that our team members are better at handling. I admire my friend who often sits at the back with the child while his wife drives. He drives sometimes, but she loves to drive and she is better with direction. Somehow, his position as husband has not been taken from him yet.

The next time you have to assist, don’t see it as subjugation, it is an opportunity to build together!!

Social Media Addict?

If you are not on social media you must be well over 70 in body or mind! Times have really changed.

I am not on many media. I joined Facebook years ago after someone convinced me it was better than Hi5. I joined twitter because that was the way to keep up with information on subsidy protests in 2012 in Nigeria. I joined whatsapp in 2011 as an inexpesnive means of keeping in touch with friends, especially those outside the country.

Since android operating system removed the social media hub, I decided I could not afford the energy required to remember to read tweets. I summarily logged out. I dont think I have lost much since then–reading newspaper headlines is sufficient.

i found that whatsapp alerts were making me disoriented. In fact I once thought it had the potential to raise blood pressure. I got so addicted to whatsapp that I could type without looking at the keypad! It was unbelievable! In meetings, in trainings, in transit, I was online! Step one, I deleted the app for a few weeks. When I reinstalled it (because I missed my friends), I silenced it permanently, and I switched off vibration. That way, I receive messages as convenient for me. Today, whatsapp is happy and I am happy. There’s no contest who comes first!

Facebook. I learnt years ago that one way to improve time management is to turn waiting time to productive time. While waiting for a meeting, while on a queue, what value-adding activity could one engage in? For example, I am writing this article on a bus…and I am not driving! After about 5 years on Facebook, I found that at every idle time, I inadvertently checked what’s up on Facebook. It was obsessive and compulsive! Before a meeting, I’d check, after the meeting I’d check! One day, I realised my addiction.
Ha!
Do I want to get off Facebook? NO! But certainly guy, you cant continue like this!

So I got a flash of an idea! Adopt a Facebook start time! Very simple: Thou shalt not open Facebook before 4pm on any day for any reason! My friend laughed in disbelief: “I’ll monitor you for you!” Easy? Not really. I had essential Facebook pages to manage, but then, I found out Pages app so I do not need to go through my Facebook feed. Many days, I would argue with myself:
“At least, I am not doing anything now. Cant I just peep?”
“No you cant! Cant you control yourself for a few hours??”
Sundays were the most difficult; “Cant one just relax with Facebook?”

I certainly had the help of God! But I won! There are days I completely forget there is Facebook. In fact I convinced myself to delete my Facebook messenger app recently, arguing that the slowest means to send a critical message would be by email not Facebook messaging!

Csn you imagine that one could get addicted to webpage visitor statistics? I DID! But I got delivered! My heart passed a message to me banning me from those stats, and my conscience convicted me everytime I disobeyed! That message was surely from God!

So what are the benefits? In January I found that I read through eight books! More like it; better for me! I am also able spend my waiting time thinking. Thinking is not the same as worrying. One could think about how the venue of a meeting was arranged or even built, and you get an idea of how to do yours better! One could write an article, plan a vacation, daydream (that word is almost extinct–no thanks to social media), call an old, almost-forgotten pal, verbally socialize with a “real” neighbour, reflect on an unresolved problem, etc!

A few minutes scroll through Facebook a day will keep us informed, educated and in touch. If one has something good to share, great! Really necessary to keep people’s feed filled with good words.

What about Pinterest, Google+, Flipboard, Picasa, etc? I guess one day I’ll learn about them. For now, I am happily old-school in that wise!

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