Like most people, I usually spend the first few days of January in a fever of self-loathing, examining my vices within the previous year, under a microscopic lens weighing my highs and my lows, before setting myself grandiose goals for the year ahead.
If you haven’t noticed, however, January is traditionally the month of deprivation, when a guilt-ridden society at large – for some reason or the other – collectively minimizes most basic needs and bans little luxuries like sugar, wine, caffeine, red meat and anything that makes life palatable in a month that seems to have 90 days, instead of 30.
There is, thankfully, a growing collective voice arguing that such extreme measures don’t really do us any favours, and my voice is one of those.
According to this select of the society, it’s by making minor tweaks to our existing daily lives, and introducing small pleasures into our routines, that we genuinely upgrade our lifestyle. Wouldn’t you agree?
I don’t know about you but my opinion is that people often set themselves up to fail by setting themselves impossibly ambitious targets, and I stand corrected. In fact, it is the accumulation of tiny bits of progress that gradually coalesce to generate a true sense of achievement.
If you’ve heard of the famous cycling trainer, Sir. Dave Brailsford’s “marginal gains” theory, then you would know that it applies not just in the rarefied world of elite sport but in the very fabric of our daily lives.
“Positive change is really about tiny improvements, which, when put together, add up to the difference between winning and losing,” he says.
Very often when people talk about “New Year, new me”, they try to remove human autonomy from the equation. They imagine that our desires, concerns, passions and talents are irrelevant. Read more
Haters are people who are against you. They discourage your dreams, disrupt your progress, and detour you from God’s best. They also like to “throw shade”.
According to the handy dandy Urban Dictionary, “throwing shade” is defined as “acting in a casual or disrespectful manner towards someone”. Don’t view “shade” as a negative; sometimes you have to wear it as a badge of honor. People only throw shade on things that are hot.
You see, the hotter, better, faster, and greater you become, the more shade is gonna get thrown.
If you want to see and live what God has for you, sometimes you have to turn your back to the crowd. If you are always living your life through the thoughts and expectations of others, you will constantly find yourself in situations where you have no control over your victory.
You were created to stand up and shout in the midst of your haters like Bartimeaus did in the biblical story, but you’ve got to turn your back to them, quit listening, and not get discouraged, disrupted or detoured by the crowd. The crowd will never go away—the enemy will always throw shade your way—but that’s a game you cannot play.
You have to ignore it, be the conductor and play your music.
In the fall of 1982, James Burke, the chairman of Johnson & Johnson, faced the biggest crisis of his career. J&J learned from a reporter that their flagship product, Tylenol, had been linked to seven poisoning deaths in the Chicago area.
No one knew how or why the capsules had been poisoned, and Burke didn’t know how widespread the danger to the public might be.
Part of humility is admitting, “I’m not where I want to be in my career.” In our social media-driven culture, that’s not something you might like to admit. Maybe you’d rather fake it. You present a public image that says, “I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing,” but the reality is that you’re not. If you have great talent, perhaps you feel even worse: “How can I not have the career I want—the life I want—when I have this talent?” As the great UCLA basketball coach John Wooden once said, “Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”
It’s important not to let even great talent lead to arrogance or the presumption that because you have it, you don’t need God.
And as usual, allow me to draw wisdom from the Bible: At the time Paul wrote his famous letters to the Romans, he was about to leave for Jerusalem to aid poor Christians, then for Rome where he hoped to gain support for a mission to Spain. He knew the journey to Rome, where Christians were few and persecuted, might be hazardous. But in his letter, he isn’t concerned with the dangers. Instead, he encourages Roman believers not only to embrace their gifts but also to remember that they come from God, who wants to use them wisely and well.
Paul’s letter is a beautiful example of a vital principle surrounding talent—that it is not ours. Talent is only on loan from the Lord.
It’s important to remember why you have this gift: to serve God and fulfill the destiny for which He has chosen you. Humility should always accompany talent. The word humility means “to go low.” To experience the power of God, you must go under his mighty hand. He didn’t say, “Stand on my hand, and I will prop you up”; He said, “I will put my hand over you.” God did not grant you talent for your purposes, but for His.
A Talent (or gift, or aptitude) is the skill that someone naturally has to do something that is hard. It is an ability that someone is born with. People say they are “born with a talent”. It is a high degree of ability or of aptitude.
God’s appointed time for your rise may not have come yet. You may not have put in enough work. Or maybe you’ve been proud and forgotten what your talent is for. Remember, God opposes the proud and shows favor to the humble. We often look at humility as being the opposite of strength, but it’s not. Many of the most influential and powerful people in the world are also the humblest. They recognize that this is not about them; it’s about what God does through them. As a result, they are blessed.
Do you have a track record of completing what you start? Why is it important to finish what you start? Let’s take a step backwards and reflect. Who would knowingly drive over an unfinished bridge; ride on a “nearly” finished plane; or pay for a half-baked cake? Not me! Yes, there are varying levels of risk in these examples, but the principle is constant. Completion is a critical measure of performance and expectation.
Completion requires commitment, focus, and time. That’s why it’s so important to identify those actions most aligned with your God-led goals and invest your time in completing them. A key to completing goals that appear intimidating is to break the goals into smaller achievable steps. These steps can then be broken down into discrete daily actions to include in your “To Do” list.
If perfectionism is a barrier to completion for you, consider adopting a “satisficer” mindset that Dr. Barry Schwartz coined as a hybrid of the words “satisfy” and “suffice”. Valorie Burton, renowned personal and executive coach, explains a “satisficer” as one who determines to select the first action meeting one’s minimum standard for satisfaction. This enables you to complete actions acceptably and move on to other actions requiring your attention.
All actions aren’t equally important and surely all aren’t deserving of huge amounts of thought and time. Selecting a pair of shoes and choosing an investment plan probably require significantly different levels of analysis and research… I’m just saying.
Here’s a disclaimer; I’m in no way a relationship expert, but I know someone [or something] that is 😎 – the Bible. As usual, you’ll have to allow me to draw from “her” wisdom, and help both you and I build decent relationships– whether romantic or otherwise.
But before we get to that, let me create a picture in your mind [that will drive me to a point]. Earlier this year, me and my family (and by “family”, I mean my parents and some of my siblings and their kids, as well as mine) visited the once-upon-a-time beautiful Lake Victoria in Kenya. Do your homework and find that this lake was once eye-candy, and I remember even going boat-riding with my family (way before I had any of my kids) on an outing, during my modelling days. Boy, have I had a life! But that’s besides the point. LOL.
The shores were ever so spotless in terms of being litter-free because business boomed along them with fish eateries splattered from end to end. I mean, it was literally fishy all day, every day, and oh-so lovely for anyone to experience. Thank God, we took loads of photos back then.
But at the sight of the once-upon-a-time beautiful Lake Victoria this year, having taken my babies to experience what I once did, before I had them, I was in tears! It was unrecognizable. What was once a pure and decent mass of water, carrying one of the most fed-on and delicious type of fish – tilapia – now looks like a huge green farm of weed referred to as hyacinth.
is heart breaking, to say the least. How? What? When? Why? Who? ran through my mind.
In our reading, Jesus tells of a farmer who decided to sow seed across his land, which included soil of varying fertility, illustrating the point that the success of any seed depends entirely on the ground it lands in.
The seed has life in itself – all it needs is the correct growing conditions.
Jesus describes the seed as being “the message about the kingdom”. The kingdom of God is found where God is actively ruling and the seed therefore represents any message that teaches us how to live the King’s way.
There is a lot of relationship “seed” in the Bible that we have to receive like the fertile soil. It teaches us how to conduct every relationship we have.
Today’s first challenge is to explore the Bible and discover what it has to say about each specific relationship we currently have, then secondly, to commit to conducting them in Devine Flow. Doing this is us allowing kingdom seed to take root in the relationship soil of our lives; choosing to be like the fertile ground in our reading, rather than the hard or rocky soil.
Your resolve, then, is to be like the fertile soil in this parable.
Now let me explain one more thing that emerges from it:
The problem with fertile soil is that everything grows in it.
While we concentrate on nurturing the good seed we’ve planted, weeds always seem to emerge alongside. We don’t always know how they got there, but we do know they need to be pulled up as soon as they are spotted because they will “choke it, making it unfruitful”.
Relationships only thrive if they are both carefully nurtured and kept weed free.
One small weed, left unattended for long enough can become so large and influential that other plants and forms of life surrounding it suffer – think about Lake Victoria’s hyacinth.
Similarly, if we allow the little “weeds” of poor relationship habits, attitudes or practices go unattended, they will choke and potentially kill a healthy relationship you value.
So how about we start looking out for little “weeds” in our fertile relationship soil and learn how to deal with them quickly, as we explore how to enrich our soil with healthy “relationship feed”.
Before becoming a fulltime mom, I had an awesome career in the media, eventually getting to very enviable positions in my trade, at a very young age. I often compared my work with building survey.
Did you know that a building surveyor can often have walls, drains and even whole buildings undermined by a large root that was simply left unattended for many years. That root started as a little weed that was left unattended, like the now eye-sore that has engulfed the entire Lake Victoria — hyacinth.
In the same way, relationship weeds can be just as destructive if not removed early on. That’s why it is so important to learn how to be expert “relationship gardeners”!
How? Catch me, next week to learn how to keep your “Lake Victoria” free from “hyacinth”.
Till then, #IAmPossible, #YouArePossible, #LetsBePossibleTogether
Each of us has had a conversation(s) with someone who really wasn’t “there”, right? I mean, physically, they were oh-so there with us.Words came out of their mouth in response to our own, or they’d nod or shake their heads when time called for it (Lol – I know I’ve done this a bazillion times, and so have you–don’t play me 😂). I mean, they looked in our direction, but we could just tell they weren’t present in that moment with us.
Or picture this; you are at work and because it’s a Monday and your boss just so happens to be around, hovering like a vulture waiting to devour you every which way to Sunday, you’ll “seem” to be “very busy” and “getting things done” … until they slip out of the office to grab a cup of coffee around the corner of your workplace — all stone-faced and all! Don’t you find yourself exhaling like a swimmer who had been holding their breath under water, before you begin to check your social media notifications or surfing the web — or basically diverting your attention to check out whatever you’re into on the net? Worse, engage in a very meaningless workplace conversation with a colleague, or finish a previously unfinished chat with someone online?
Plainly put, it is so easy to get distracted and not fully be in the moment.
Did you know that your service is an “act of worship” to your Creator, as I like to think of it, and isn’t confined to a church building or only available at certain times of day? And yet we can still miss our Divine moment at work even when the Devine is right in front of our eyes.
I don’t know what you believe, but Christian believers not only believe, but know from Psalm 139 that our Devine nearness is “wherever we find ourselves” – mind, body or spirit.
Why? Because we are still learning the art of knowing and following the voice of the Spirit – within us – as He speaks.
Two people can hear the same song. One “experiences” whatever the lyrics of that song, while the other daydreams about something that needs to be done at work in the next moment.
In the same way, two people may face a crisis in life. One experiences an over-whelming sense of grace flood over their pain—after all, divinity is not just present but very present help in our time of trouble (Psalm 46:1)—while the other feels nothing but hurt, betrayal, anger and loneliness. Why? It’s all about how and where we place our “presence” and expectation.
I personally have a growing revelation of Devine love toward me, so that even on the hardest of days, it ends well.
If I can encourage you in one way today, it would be for you to cultivate your “attitude of expectation” so that you can begin to be “present in Devine presence”.
Don’t wait until you have things all “figured out”. Don’t wait until you “feel spiritual”. Expect the Devine right now.
King David said with much confidence in Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (NIV).
See, it’s an art to learn to STOP and experience Devine presence in the present. All you have to do is be aware — whether you are driving in your car, shopping for groceries, reading a bedtime story to your child, spending quality time with your significant other, waking up to make breakfast, or standing with other believers with arms stretched high, singing songs of praise — all of it is an “act of worship”.
One enduring [interesting] devotional book is The Practice of the Presence of God by a seventeenth-century Carmelite monk namedBrother Lawrence. It was this guy’s goal to do nothing out of selfishness, but to do everything out of love for his Creator — whether working the soil or studying God’s Word. For him, that meant realizing he was always in Devine presence and living every moment in that realization.
His simple but profound teaching was: “…to form a habit of conversing with God continually, and referring all we do to Him.”
But what happens if you do that and still don’t feel Devine presence?
Brother Lawrence continues in his writings to say: “We must at first apply to Him with some diligence: but that after a little care, we should find His love inwardly excites us to it without any difficulty.”
Cool thought, huh?
It has been my experience that my attention and awareness of Devine presence becomes very real when I draw near to the Divine. In other words, the favour is returned. I feel “hemmed in”, behind and before. My Creator’s hand upon me, gently, not heavy-handed. And my heart continues to be overwhelmed by the fact that the One who created the heavens and the earth actually is “here” and delights to draw near to me.
Divine presence defines us, sets us apart, strengthens us, penetrates our very being, gives
direction to our daily pursuits;
fuels our passions and brings joy and strength as we draw near.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8 – NKJV).
If you’re a believer, take these scriptures into your day-to-day life and let Devine presence set your stance and direction. And if you aren’t, it’s time you became aware of how you carry on the everyday duties entrusted to you — feel the shift in your attitude towards life? Nope? Yes? Maybe?
Courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s the presence of love in the face of fear. Maybe you’re in a season of your life when you’re going through something difficult. Fear seems to be creeping in from all sides, and you’re asking yourself:
If I’m apparently beautifully and wonderfully made, then why am I going through all this pain in the first place?
See, your Creator is not some sadistic little kid torturing insects for fun; nah… He’s the embodiment of love. So if you’re in a season of difficulty, don’t let fear get the best of you. Turn instead to the embodiment of love itself, and find comfort there. Even in those moments of pain, He will carry you through it and bring good from it, somehow. He always does.
Love has the power to overcome your fears by giving you the courage to face those fears with faith.
We all have areas of fear in our lives. When we were created, don’t you think our Creator knew how much we’d struggle with fear and how big a threat to our lives it could become? That’s why there’s the statement, “Don’t be afraid”, like 365 times in the bible – a little reminder for each day.
Envision your life with a heart full of love and courage. How does that vision look different than your life looks right now? That fearless vision is possible if you choose to live a life led by love. Commit to the path of love, and never look back to the path of fear. Great days are ahead. It is promised, so know it’s true.