ADVANTAGE 2010 – YOUTH SEMINAR BY DZORWULU ASSEMBLY OF INTERNATIONAL CENTRAL GOSPEL CHURCH (IGCG)
TOPIC: DUE TIME – WILL YOU BE READY?
30 OCTOBER 2010 – DIMPLES’ INN, ACCRA, GHANA
It is a pleasure to be here to interact with you folks, youthful men and women. I was here with some of you last year – it was the 14th of November 2009, and we reflected on the thought: Dealing with the past and opening up a great future. When Pastor Langdon (I call him Onukpa Langdon) told me just after last year’s event that he would want me to come this year, I indicated that I was game. I love being with young people, I love investing in life, I just love being able to sow a seed into someone’s life, knowing that it will grow and bear good fruit, fruit that may abide.
One of my cardinal philosophies is that you have not started living until you live your life for someone else as well, imparting into someone, changing at least one more life. “What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?” asked George Elliot, and Winston Churchill summed it well for me when he said that “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” Every instance in your life is an opportunity to impact someone’s life and to be impacted as well. No moment is insignificant. If you invest in someone’s life at any moment, you have no idea what that person may turn out to be and what your seed will turn into. A chance meeting with a fellow prisoner and interpreting his dream was all that was needed to bring Joseph’s name to the attention of the Pharoah of Egypt.
So even though I arrived from Kenya yesterday after a grueling business trip, I told Pastor Raph that I will still make. I won’t give this opportunity up for all the gold in Obuasi.
I am in my mid thirties, I am married with three children: two boys and one girl; my background is Chemical Engineering. I am married to lovely Vivian, who has been a wonderful wife to me and a great mother to our children. She is an example of prayerfully appreciating that the future is not by chance, but by change. I went after her with my eyes open, knowing what exactly I wanted in a wife, having prayed for years and God blessed me with her.
I also write. Excursions In My Mind, my first book, was launched last year and is available in Ghana and also online through Amazon and other outlets globally. My second book Through the Gates of Thought was released this year in April and will be launched in Ghana next week, on 5 November. You are all cordially invited.
I instigate thoughts; I provoke people with my writing. But I am primarily a storyteller. I like to tell stories of my life, what I learn, what I have gather through my reading and through that derive lessons for myself and for my readers.
The theme for today is: Our Future – by chance or by chance. I humbly submit that it is by change. Indeed, luck has been defined as “preparation meeting opportunity”. One golfer was asked whether he was lucky in his career. His response was: “The more I practise, the luckier I get.” Today, as we reflect on this theme, I want to narrow my discussion to the sub-topic I have created: “Due time – will you be ready?”
As is characteristic of my writing and reflections, I will tell you stories gleaned from my life, the Bible, books and quotations I have read, as well as my observations. I am a keen observer of life, as a proponent of continuous learning. We learn in four ways: by experience, by observation, by listening and by reading.
I was born and grew up I was born in Kotobabi, Abavanna Down, just around the corner from here (Dimples’ Inn Dzorwulu). As kids we used to view Dzorwulu from afar and wished to live here. We used to come to the area around the railway line to catch golden fishes in the flowing waters around. I used to hawk banku with a lady in our compound house who complimented with fried fish along that same railway line, during school vacations. I grew up in a compound house of about ten families. My family was made up of our parents and eight siblings. We grew up in a three-room rented apartment, what is traditionally called chamber and hall. Three-room, because there was the main bedroom, which was used by my parents and the younger kids, who slept on mats on the floor, the second room which was a combined sitting room with a bed on one side (my eldest brother used this) and served as a bedroom during the night when the chairs and tables were packed at one side to make room for mats and mattresses to be put on the floor for sleeping on. The third room was a kitchen space, but it was used to keep other stuff like water drums and served as the storeroom as well. And don’t have the image of the kitchen with fridge, cabinets, electrical cooker, et cetera. Just think kitchen space! Nine other families lived in the compound house and we all shared the same utilities – bathhouse, toilets, water pipe, etc. At a point, there was no flowing water and no toilet in that house. We used to walk from Kotobabi to Pig Farm to use the public latrine there. Imagine trying to control your bowels over that distance when nature was calling urgently! It was great fun, however, living in this house and growing up in Kotobabi. I went to the local Preparatory school, and used to hear with admiration and envy the exploits of the well-to-do kids in the neighborhood who attended Association International. From that time, however, I had a dream to be the best I could be. And reflecting on today and appreciating what I have become, I can say that my dreams are coming through.
Not many of my friends in Kotobabi have turned out as I have. When I drive through where we used to live, I sometimes wonder how I made it. Apart from grace, I will tell you one reason as well: the dream and vision I had. A dream of my future, and I didn’t leave that dream to chance. I worked at it, I inputted into that change that I sought. What I am now didn’t come by chance.
Allow me to tell you a story. I got a letter mid-March 2005, and it got me very disappointed. I had applied to a school in USA, they had put me on a waiting list for admission and that letter killed the waiting. I had been rejected. One of my colleagues met me that morning and remarked that I was looking too morose. I am usually very pleasant and happy looking at work, even in the midst of stress of work. I told my colleague that I was managing a disappointment, and that I will be okay by the end of the day.
At home that night, I told my wife about the disappointment, and she actually encouraged me that God always knows best. She has always been right with her encouragement.
The next dawn, I decided to spend time with God’s word, and find His encouragement for me as well. The Bible is unique in one respect: it is the only Book in the world where you have the author with you as you read it. Indeed, the Bible is alive; is it a wonder the Word is the Lord Himself?
Anyway, my quiet time that morning ministered to me in a very special way. I got to read 1 Peter 5:6: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”
God has His due time for each of us, and for each of His projects, plans and purposes for us. We do know the God is almighty and capable, but He works according to His due time.
Why should I fret then and feel disappointed when the due time is not due?
The principle of due time applies to every facet of our lives. And before that due time arrives, we have nothing to do but wait. However, it should not be an empty, void wait.
One of my favorite characters in the Bible is David. The young man David was anointed King when he was still shepherding his father’s flock and was not even eligible for draft into the army. Yet, David waited for God’s due time for him to ascend the throne of Israel. What I like about David as he waited was that he built himself up, he developed himself, he learnt to lead, govern and rule. David worked hard as he waited for due time.
In preparing for the opportunity to come, don’t despise anything you do. David used his time in the bush, shepherding his daddy’s sheep, to learn how to trust in God, how to fight animals, how to use the sling. When the time was due to fight Goliath, he was ready. I have sat in interviews for recruiting new graduates into Unilever; for standards of leadership, we draw on the experiences acquired in school, usually university, of these young people.
David used the preparation time to learn how to lead people. He actually started learning leadership skills with sheep. He led an army of willing soldiers, and by so doing developed the skills of what we call in business “buy-in” – getting people to believe in your vision. Learn to treat people right, because you will need them in future. No man is an island. Some people go through life antagonizing everyone they meet – beware. Time changes. The person you despise today may be your boss or key contact for a contract tomorrow.
David used this time to learn how to deal with failure. On your road to your future, you will have ups-and-downs, but the victor is the one who didn’t stop. A classic example in a competitive working environment is when we get discouraged because an anticipated recognition hasn’t come through. Due time has not arrived. What tends to happen is that most people then slack and work lousily. And then, their chances of recognition go down further and further.
During the time of preparation, seek to improve each day. The Chinese philosopher Confucius said ‘do not be afraid of going slow, only be afraid of standing still.’ I only admire those who seek improvement in what they do every day. Remember that even the ant reaches its destination.
Learn to take stock of wherever you are. Self-assessment is good for improvement.
In preparing for due time, surround yourself with people of like-mindedness, friends who will not distract you from your aim, your vision. In my case, I have decided to shy away from whiners and complainers; they only pull you back. I surround myself with people better than myself, so I can be better, and be challenged. Check out the mighty men who were around David in I Chronicles 11 verse 10ff.
For you to succeed, live with long perspective in mind. Stephen Covey said you need to start with the end in mind. Whatever you do, ask yourself: how does this enhance my journey towards my intended destination? What does it take out? I launched my first book in October 2008. I planned release my second book in 2010, and I thought about how to create publicity towards it, two clear years ahead of time. One of the platforms I decided to use was Facebook. Friends tell me I am always on Facebook, posting, writing, engaging with people; what they do not know is that it was part of a grand plan. It is interesting to note that it was through this medium that I met Pastor Raph. Via this same medium, I have had about eight reviews of my second book, by people in Nigeria, Ghana, UK, with some being worked on in Kenya and USA. I have had the reviews published in newspapers in Ghana and Nigeria, and magazines distributed across Africa like Business Times and New Africa. I actually saw a copy of the latter in the Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi, waiting to board on Friday. Via Facebook, I have got the opportunity to have my short story Truth Floats in an anthology Africa Roar. I was acting with the end in mind here, waiting for the due time of my second book Through the Gates of Thought.
As you prepare to take up that future role or position, learn to succumb to the authority in that position. Respect given is respect received in advance. David was careful to give Saul his due respect. He said to his men, when they even purported to quote a scripture to him (I Samuel 24), “The Lord forbid that I should lift my hand against the Lord’s anointed”. He was conscience-striken for having cut off even a corner of Saul’s robe.
Get a mentor in the field of your interest. Find someone who can guide you, who can give you unadulterated feedback. Get a Nathan in your life, who can tell you in your face that you are wrong. Our elders say he who cuts a path does not see that the path is crooked, only someone watching behind you can do so. Be willing to take that correction and become better. Get a Jonathan, who can teach you the rules of royalty.
Learn discipline and judicious use of time as you wait for due time. In my view, two qualities of a serious person suffice: the person keeps to time and keeps his/her promises.
Promises. We complain that our politicians don’t keep their promises but do you keep yours? Gary Jones, a former Training manager at Unilever Ghana, made a statement has been with me for a long time: “A good manager is one who does what he says he will do.”
Keeping to one’s time is a promise honoured. Keeping your promise or otherwise is a reflection of your integrity. It always amazes me how businessmen in Ghana act as if the number of times they fail to keep their promise is directly proportional to their status as crack businessmen. It gives me a very negative impression of that person. Some take your call, and promise to get back to you by email or phone, because they are engaged, in a meeting or another activity, and never get back. It is better not to promise if you know you cannot deliver, keeping to the advice by George Washington, “not [to] undertake what you cannot perform, but be careful to keep your promise.”
And when due time arrives, be ready to take it, and work hard with it. It has been said that most of us miss an opportunity because it comes disguised in work clothes.
What you do as you wait for due time is crucial. The waiting period should be used working more effectively; it should be used upgrading your skills; it should be used getting ready for the responsibilities that due time will bring.
Due time will come, in due time. Will you be ready when it does?
I thank you, and God bless.
Nana Awere Damoah