Keep God Out of This!

He’s given you power over some things! Use it

“May God save us” – that’s a statement I have often heard from people who have given up in the face challenges that seem insurmountable. From violent crime through bad governance to corruption and all other societal vices. In one of the largest countries in Africa, paradoxically I’ve heard this same statement in the face of some ills that very personal and not whole societal.

I am a believer, in God, His power and His grace. I also believe that with the gift of free will comes consequences for both the things we do and things we fail to do. As human beings, we cannot both want this free will without facing the consequences that come with it. With the gift of free will, God has given us power of certain things, to ask him to take responsibility for them is being spiritually lazy. Sure we need God, to understand evil, fight it on realms we are incapable of understanding but as a system, part of the battle is ours, every day, every minute we live.

It is not up to God and cannot be left to him

  • to stop us from reaping where we did not sow. God already teaches us INTEGRITY
  • to raise great children in not only strong spiritual but also moral principles. God’s own son and the Bible provides enough principles.
  • to reach out in love and service, not only to our neighbour, but to the stranger we meet on the street. God already teaches us CHARITY.
  • to behave ourselves with dignity and responsibility in private and public and by so doing be an example unto others.

“God will help <insert country here>” ( e.g God will help Nigeria, Cameroon) is a phrase that makes me cringe when it is the response to societal ills that man is fully responsible for. Ok, what really would we want God to do if he showed up? raise responsible children? elect good leaders and hold them accountable? change our culture from the ostentatious money-worshiping fest it is to one that is values-based? make us conscientious at work? hold out religious leaders accountable?

And while we are at it, maybe He can throw in genies to put the food in our mouths, clean us up when we go to toilet and say good morning to our neighbours. The things that make for a good society are not always up to God, they are often up to man. For as important as social justice is, so are clean streets, concientious workers, caring neighbours and principled children. In fact when we have the later list of qualities, social justice is one of the fruits we will get. And those things are not up to God – they are up to human beings.

When humans take up that responsibility of doing the things (often seemingly small and inconsequential) that are in their power, the things that promote strong families, caring societies and great countries, those acts are themselves acts of worship that inspire God to do his bit – protect our families, societies and nations from vices that humans cannot by themselves comprehend.

“Be the change you want to see in the world” – said Gandhi, because that change you are being is the prayer that makes God to shower the world with more abundant blessings.

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YOU have the POWER! It is INSIDE

State Of Mind
We may not completely control our careers, but we are in full control over
  • Which skills we choose to acquire, refine and master.
  • Which talents we nurture and refine into our Perfexcellence toolbox.
  • Which passions we pursue and what problems we deploy our skills and talents at.
  • What impressions we make on the people we meet.
  • Whether we respond, or react to the curveballs that our careers throw us.
These are the things that largely determine our career success. The rest is mostly luck and as someone once said “Good luck is opportunity meets preparation”. So how are we preparing?
We may not have full control over every aspect of our health, but we do largely have control over
  • Those little habits that make up our personal hygiene.
  • What we eat, how much of it and how often.
  • How physical exercise we put in regularly.
  • How long we let each feeling and emotion (good or bad) live in our hearts.
  • How we choose to perceive the ‘injustices’ in the world.
And these largely determine how healthy we are – physically, emotionally and spiritually. There are no sustainably fulfilling careers in unhealthy bodies. So how are we ensuring that our health won’t sabotage our careers and dreams?
We cannot dictate people’s actions but we can chose and do control
  • How we perceive people and consequently treat them.
  • How we serve, help and appreciate those whose paths we cross.
  • Whether by our deeds and words, we leave people better off than we met them.
  • Whether our actions paint a consistent picture of our character.
  • Whether we leave each encounter better in some way than we got into it.
  • How well and often we make and keep our promises.
And these things touch people’s hearts and minds and is the stuff of influence.  When that influence makes their minds dance to that song we put in their heart, they reward us by letting us lead them.
Ultimately, we all create our futures and destinies, by the very thoughts we choose to dwell on,  the acts we choose to do in the present and what stories we choose to tell ourselves when things don’t go as planned.
The dirty office politics, the dubious colleagues, the bad boss, the unfair compensation schemes are only part of the story but they can also be tests and launchpads to true greatness, if only we can find the power within to overcome them, as often as they rear their head up in different forms.
Yes, there is tremendous power within us but we must be willing to pay the price to wield it.
  • Can we muster the strength to sacrifice the mundane for the significant … or vice versa if the mundane is what enriches another life?
  • Will we have the courage to deny our senses pleasure now that in order to gratify our spiritual yearnings?
  • Will we be able to say no to eating the fruit today and rather plant a tree of whose fruit neither we nor ours may eat but that will feed a small nation tomorrow?
The path to perfexcellence is riddled with such choices and we must find that courage, that willpower, that love and that vision to make the right calls and do it consistently no matter how many times we fail.

Birthday Wish: Begin and End Everyday on my Knees in Gratitude

to start and end everyday like this … in Gratitude

To begin and end every day on my knees

In gratitude for all that has been, is and will be

For the gift of friendship and family

In times of sorrow and in times of joy

In times of plenty and times of need

In times of pleasure and in times of pain

For the glory of God’s name,

For the enligntenment of the earth and the common good of man

Guide me ask neither for riches nor fame for myself

But peace for my enemies and friends

But a spirit of service towards my neighbour

That I may walk in humility and courage and love

On the straight path of truth, dignity and hard work

That’s what I ask of you today lord

To remind me, and help me see in every moment and everyone

Even when it is hidden by the thorns of life’s circumstances

That, “that which causes the rose to bloom, is also within me and them

Amen/So-Say-We-All

And God Spoke …Self Mastery Test #X

self master classroom

Bivouac camp in Sahara desert / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“So my son ..you want to learn self mastery?

I see how much you’ve been writing about it and trying

Ok, I’ll give you a helping hand

I’ll get you into a classroom

I’ll take you on a 20 hour flight from a city with sub-zero temperatures

Then land you in a city with an average temperature of 40 degrees centigrade in the evening

I’ll put you in a hotel with standards beneath other hotels you usually complain about

Oh and since you are always complaining about bad food,

I’ll make sure your choices in food for once justify your whining

Class duration is nine days, and you can’t get out of class

And did I mention that you can’t count on the Internet or phones

Let’s see ….

If you can still maintain your calm in that heat

If you can bring mindfulness to help you deal with a room in which the window faces an drab high wall

If under these circumstances, you can still be courteous to people you think you don’t need anything from

If you can still find something to be grateful for in each one of these days

If you can do these, then you will have learnt something about self mastery!

So, do you still want to continue on this path?”

Day 1: I screamed, kicked and was foul all day – I reaped lost of misery. I called someone special, spoke for a while and returned to my self pity.

Day 2: I kicked, screamed and made an emotional cocktail of anger and resentment, all brewed in blazing hot desert sun.

And so it went, anger, sorrow, disappointment, anguish and then when I had experienced all that was negative, on Day 6 I felt calm (I’d just taught a class of 40+ network engineers in a steaming hot room and their eagerness to learn was so great I forgot about the inconveniences). I became self aware and then the magic started and continued till Day 9

People went out of their way to make me happy. They did not have the traditional goodies to give but what they gave, they gave with all of their hearts, they gave me with love and I felt it. I connected and felt really good insides (God must have smiled … ‘you are not so thick-headed after all’. The best part was left for last … I beheld a sight I had thought I needed to travel to the United States and some big museum to see –  a full skeleton of two kinds of dinosaur!! (yes I am a geek …that stuff amazes me). Imagine a crocodile whose skeleton is taller than a truck and that is more as long as a tanker!

Dinosaur skeletons in Niamey - Niger

Final lesson? – once you put your ego in its place (take attention away from yourself) and be in the moment, the world usually presents you a amazing bouquet of breath-taking gifts … of beauty, of simplicity, of elegance.

Today, It’s YOUR TURN to Keep the Wheel Spinning

Rudder by Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One day (perhaps even today), a situation will present itself to you for which you can do something to help but which you might consider insignificant. But most importantly, there will be logical reasons not to. Am going to ask you today … forget about the reasons, logic and just do it.

When I left my small village in Cameroon almost 20 years ago to pursue post-primary education, I was exposed to a world that had hitherto been non-existent to me – I saw a beggar for the first time – someone who would come up to you and beg for money (usually). My worldview was rudely shattered! Until the age of about 17 or 16, I had never seen someone who begged (for money, for food) and I just didn’t know how to relate to it. This rude shock only increased in intensity the further I travelled from home. In the day, I usually ignored any able bodied beggar with the logic ‘they are just lazy’ or trying to take advantage. Now that am older, have seen a lot and now wiser, I know it’s not always that simple.

Fast forward to 2011 in Paris-France and for the first time in my life, I saw a grown able-bodied man sleeping on the streets in near-zero temperatures. Not 30 minutes later, I met what looked like an entire family in the same situation, and begging. As this has happened more to me in different countries and cities, I have tried to ignore the pleas for help or alms with thoughts like …”this is unsustainable, how can my little alm help this person? Even if I could give them a €100, it wont be enough to get them on off the streets and keep them fed”. I am and always have been a believer in sustainable solutions and in Systems Thinking and I know full well how aid, even personal aid can be a bad i.e. have unintended and negative contrary consequences. But I am also be very empathic and can imagine myself in other people’s shoes, so those two tendencies are always conflicting.

About the middle of this year in the hot golden sunlight of the Arabian desert, I had some clarity about this – all the reasons (yes they are shallow and egocentric) we give for not helping now, for ignoring usually serve only to assuage our guilt, because deep down our spirits, speaking through our consciences long to reach out to another human being in need at that moment. Persisting in such a mentality only makes us meaner women and men, it kills the bonds that exist between us and that apparently unfortunate person, it kills that part of our spirit that we all share as human beings. And should we let that thinking persist all of the time, we’ll miss an opportunity to SERVE something greater than our own needs at that moment and thus remain at lower levels of self actualization.

Here’s a different way to look at the situation.

  1. Despite what our ego might want us to believe, that person’s existence does not depend upon us. In the grand scheme of things, they were alive before we came around and they will be alive long after we have gone. There are rare exceptions when our interventions are matters of life and death. In those situations, our responses or actions are quite clear (I think, having never been in such a position myself).
  2. In that moment, fate is handing us a responsibility – just keep the wheel turning. Don’t worry who will turn it tomorrow (if we have the heart of a saint, we will find a way to help not just today but tomorrow too). Just recognize that the wheel is still turning today because someone turned it yesterday. So the only question is: “Will we make sure the wheel is still turning tomorrow?”
  3. This is also an opportunity, to rise above the petty needs of our egos. For those of us who are men/women of faith, this is our chance to be of service to the glory of God.

So unless we can outright sense that someone wants to take advantage, if we can, we must GIVE. Give, with gratitude in our heart and with a smile on our face. And as we give, we must be sure to look them in the eye, for that is the message that speaks far more than anything else we are doing, and says “Inspite of your circumstances, I respect you as another human being”. If we pull this off well even once in a while, we at that moment are being “Instruments of Peace” and the full power of God and all the saints stands behind us.

Living … in a Nutshell

Stephanie ...don't doubt it.

LIVE, for without life, nothing matters. That’s why you take good care of your health.

LEARN, for that’s how you gain the knowledge and skills that enable you to exercise the divine within you by creating things. That’s why you feed and take care of your mind.

LOVE, for nothing created without love can be truly divine and life isn’t worth living without love and the divine. That’s why  you remain steadfast through pain and darkness in building relationships and exercising your heart.

DIE, for a sad as it is, it is what makes life precious (it will come, don’t rush for it)

Leave a LEGACY, for that’s the only way to conquer death, and that’s why you listen to your conscience and reach out to the world with LOVE

And DEATH may well be a break between one life well lived (loving, learning and leaving a legacy) and another life of PEACE and GLORY. Even if death is the end, a life of loving, learning and living a legacy is ENOUGH!

Walking the Valley of the Shadow of Death

You do so, not with joy in your heart, sometimes not even with courage in your own abilities.

You do it with FAITH in your heart, fueled by what you BELIEVE in, by those you LOVE and by a CONVICTION in your heart for WHAT YOU STAND FOR.

Oh, and that valley is not always dark, the thorns in you way are not always visible and the sun might well be shining bright on that path.

Watch your step, for your sight in this valley depends not on the eyeballs but on your faith and powers of perception.

Watch your thoughts, open your heart for your strength comes not from your flesh, but from somewhere deep in your spirit …in that place that is the temple of God within you