Monday, 12 December 2016

WHEN THE CHIPS ARE DOWN

The reason God has created us in the first place is for us to come to the world to do exploits, primarily to glorify his name and secondly to be successful while fulfilling our purpose in life, and yes, every man has a purpose peculiarly designed for him or her and all the tools we require to fulfill our purpose in life have been given to us according to the bearing of that purpose. However, we experience challenges in the course of our journeys and we sometimes find ourselves going out of the will of God for us, consequences of which is always bad. Our ability to hold on when such challenges come, coupled with our tactics at successfully steering our turbulent ships will determine if we can say at the end that we’ve run a good race.
Common among the struggles of most human beings is having secured finance and having life fulfillment. While finance or money is a straight forward desire, fulfillment can be relative, as in, what we crave to be fulfilled in life varies with each individual. Some just want to be married and have children, some want to rise to the pinnacle of their career while some just want to be happy living with their loved ones. The bible says “…seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mathew 6: 33), yet all these things don’t come so freely for children of God. Why is this so? It is because the world has been designed such that we have to work for whatever we earn (Genesis 3: 19). Usually as a good Christian, you’re expected to live within some principles of holiness and decency and you want to avoid engaging in sins that may damage your destiny. Unfortunately, we live in a world where people do various unholy things to succeed, but the word of God consistently comes to our own minds that we “should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers(2 Corinthians 6: 14) and it takes perseverance to stick with the lord when those hard times come.
There are many environmental factors which affect our individual lives. In a bad economy for example, you’re naturally lured to corruption. As Christians however, the choice is ours if we want to bow to those pressures or uphold our dignity. Coming up with this write up, I looked at the current economic recession in Nigeria and I asked myself what we can do to sustain ourselves financially, not only as Christians but as Nigerians in general. Most finance experts will readily tell you about the importance of saving, investing, living within your means, avoiding luxury and so on. But there are some more generic measures we can also apply and I came up with some of these God-given and self-developed attributes which can be very useful for us both in good times and tough times. To apply these ideas either as proactive or reactive measures, we only needed to have developed ourselves in certain ways like education, information or skills that can make us productive one way the other and also help us to cushion our normal efforts. We also need to be constantly guided by the Holy Spirit in order to avoid being desperate.
1.       JOB: It is important to have a job whether in the form of a service rendered, trade, business or paid employment. The first or most elementary step towards financial help as recommended in many books is usually to have a job. Even the bible says “faith without works is dead” (James 2: 26), so there’s little anyone can achieve without having at least one source of income. When we listen to life coaches or read motivational books, we’re usually told that if you ever want to have a career working for somebody, you’re better off building your career along a field you find naturally interesting to you and that is the only way you can find your job enjoyable. Yes, that is common sense advice, but in these tough times which will not last forever, one can be smart to also apply temporary survival measures by taking any job. This isn’t suggesting you should take a derogatory job, but “menial” jobs sometimes simply means it’s a boring job or you’re over-qualified for it, so you may not enjoy it. Don’t worry, it just might be a stepping stone to your dream job and trust me, tough times don’t last forever.
2.       TALENT: A man’s gift maketh room for him and bringeth him before great men (Proverbs 18: 16) not his education or connection. It is definitely not a bad idea to keep two jobs but if you have a talent or a creative gift that can fetch you some revenue then it’s better to explore the opportunities around it. For example, I see a lot of Nigerian youth with passion for football and they’re so informed in their analysis of football matches, some may end up as footballers while some don’t have enough talent to make it on the pitch, but there are other ways. How about taking an evening job as a football coach in a private primary or secondary school where your tactical knowledge of the game can be put to use with school children at an amateur level? How about joining a music band as a backup singer? This is something that would not tamper with your regular 9-5 job or education. You’ve always been the funniest babe in your class and till date you remain the most humorous in your place of work, whenever there’s a need to speak to the management, your colleagues always prefer that you represent them. How about taking MC jobs at events on weekends? Or, have you thought about art enthusiasts in your church who might be interested in buying your paintings. You’re losing extra bucks. Think about it!
3.       HELPER: If you have always been a lone ranger in business, this is the time to rejig your style, reach out and dabble into businesses that involves partnership thus reducing the magnitude of risk you bear on your own. I mean there are too many economic uncertainties in Nigeria now, starting a new business or sustaining your existing business is in bigger difficulty than ever and you need strategies to reduce the financial risk especially when you have the mindset that you need to protect your investment. This is about networking and building bridges, so it’s that season when we need to spread out, come up with sellable ideas and shop carefully for ambitious groups or individuals to collaborate with. This helper may come in form of a partner or an investor but they have one thing in common which is the fact that they are interested in what gains are there if they collaborate with you. So, besides selling a good idea, you also need to have initiatives that are profitable and can add value to people’s lives, that way, your idea will be worth the risk your helper bears and you may yourself have just become someone’s helper through that simple idea of yours.
4.       GIVING: “You reap what you sow” is a general principle which covers both Christians and unbelievers; it is influenced by fate and can be categorized under something called the “law of karma”. It is commonly said that “givers never lack”, that is absolutely true, but the concept of giving to receive is not within our control, you cannot sow today and expect or influence your possibility to reap today, you can’t force it, it takes processes to germinate and bear fruits. So, the best we can do is playing that primary role of being givers, water our seeds with a good heart and attitude, then leave the rest to God. However, if you’ve been a cheerful giver all your life, then I doubt if you will ever suffer in these hard times, in fact, you might be in the category of people who claim they’ve not experienced any recession in their homes and that’s simply because God favours you and before you go broke, something happens which bails you out and puts food on your table. For the rich, this is another major tool which makes them richer, maybe not deliberately, but when you’re well-to-do especially in Africa, you’re naturally surrounded by people in need and you feel obliged to assist. Money though is not the only substance you can sow. A doctor who treats for free or the teacher who takes extra classes with that dull pupil are both fantastic givers, trust me, they will never lack anything good.

Finally, to survive hardship, everyone needs at least one of these tools mentioned above, if you have only two, your chances are higher, if you possess three, then it’s a wow situation for you, while I believe if you possess all the four, then you can never be a poor person no matter the severity of the economic recession. Above all, we must learn to manage our resources very well. Like the three servants who were given talents to trade with (Mathew 25: 14-30). Let us show our master how much we appreciate him for giving us the gift of life, by treating “life” itself as the first major resource input to being productive. Let us impress our master with our efforts, so that he can make us “ruler over many things”.

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