RESETTING THE STAGE
So Mark Labberton, author of Called, argues that Jesus’ two-word directive, “Follow me,” is the primary call that creates and defines our vocation (Labberton 2014, 9). While this seems basic it is quite revolutionary. This is not the approach or content I had anticipated from the title of the book. The heart of God’s call is this, Labberton seems to proclaim, that we receive and reciprocate the love of God for us—directly back to him first and indirectly to our neighbour. Indeed Jesus, quoting from to the Torah, made it clear that the greatest commandments are to love God and love people, period! This is our primary twin-call.
And I happily accept that. I also concur that whether or not we’ve discovered any specifics to our purpose in life we should live out this first thing. We even agree that this specific, unique God-given purpose should be “aspects of our call [that] assume first things but then move us in particular contexts of work or ministry, of friendship or marriage, of service or advocacy, of imagination or analysis. The next things may take the form of jobs (and often do), or they may be acts of volunteer service. This is where the convergence of gifts, talents, education, opportunity, passion and more draw us towards jobs or service that can seem deeply rewarding.”
When it comes to the specifics, however, I believe that Jeremiah was not an exception; that God saying of him that He knew him and fashioned him in the womb for a specific purpose applies to each of us too. Otherwise, for instance, why do each of us have unique fingerprints?
So yes, I grapple with my seminary president’s assertion that “Beyond these first things, God [only] sometimes has next things” because I still believe he always does for everyone. That notwithstanding, I immediately see the dangers he points out of not keeping first things first (pursuing our primary call of loving God and loving people) and rather seeking custom-made next things first. Reversal of first things and next things is not just counterproductive in the end; I dare say it is even suicidal. Here are three reasons why (which I’ve summarised and coined in my own typical alliteration fashion). We:
- miss the point
- miss the priority
- miss the person.
I will dwell only on the first two dangers here (in order to keep this blog short and sweet) and highlight the last one (potentially the worst; and the lengthiest) in the next installment, DV.
1. MISSING THE POINT
We are not here for us—we are here to please/glorify God and bless humankind. What is the point if we discover that we are uniquely shaped to, say make music, and yet end up using it in a way that offends our creator and/or exploits our fellow human beings? There are many celebrities who have obviously discovered their gifts and talents (specific God-given purpose, if you like) but who are still far away, so far away from their primary call to love God and people, or in the words of Jesus, “Follow me.” What if even our ‘calling’ or ‘career’ now rivals our primary love for God?
I think of many people who say they’ve discovered their calling, let’s say to be medical doctors, but whose attitudes stink—are they really living out their God-given purpose then? How about the one who is an obviously gifted public servant and yet is corrupt to the core? Does she not make a mockery of her primary purpose in the midst of executing her specific, secondary call? What’s the point?
On the other hand, “If we embrace and practice our primary calling to live as followers of Jesus,” Labberton posits, even “in the most practical and ordinary contexts of our lives, the meaning of our secondary call will more likely occupy its appropriate place and will bear the weight and priority that is formed by what matters most” (169).
Again, “If and when we come to a particular setting or work that especially suits the way we’ve been made or to work on the concerns or passions we want to give our strengths and energies to, we bring to those settings far more of what they need than just good talent or interest. We bring something of the kingdom” (170).
2. MISSING THE PRIORITY
First things trump everything. As Labberton puts it, “In Scripture, God seems far more passionate about first things—how we live and love and our neighbor—than about next things—what our set of daily tasks is. At the same time, it’s clear how we love him and our neighbour by how we demonstrate that in the context of our daily relationships and tasks. This is where the ordinary joy and rub of Christian discipleship are meant to be lived out. We live out the extraordinary call of following Jesus (first things) right in the midst of the ordinary actions of daily life (next things).”
In other words, in the grand scheme of things, someone who hasn’t discovered their specific, unique God-given purpose but is loving God and neighbor in whatever ‘mundane’ tasks in life is making the mark in God’s eyes while the one with the perfect skill set in the most fulfilling profession but missing first things may end up with the short end of the stick like the scenario Jesus describes at the final judgment when many will come and say, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?” Remember the Lord’s response to such who missed first things even though they did next things? “Then I will tell them plainly,” he says, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers, you law breakers, you workers of lawlessness!’
Does anyone need any further convincing that missing the point of purpose and missing God’s priority in the chase after next things are suicidal? The third danger, why reversal is suicidal, I find even more fundamental than these other two but tell me what you think so far.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Of course ‘everyone’ wants to know, “why on earth am I here?” Why else would authors sell a tonne of books on that! But as I discover more about this valid existential question, some of my strong views and approaches to the whole issue of purpose/calling are being challenged and changed. This is a series of reflections and confessions of such.
“MR. KNOWS IT ALL”
Yes, I’m headstrong and very passionate about the things I’ve come to know, understand and believe. Yet my inner circle will also tell you that I’m not afraid to say “I don’t know;” neither am I ashamed to say “I was wrong.”
In fact, long before the term “paradigm shift” became cliché, I remember running seminars for young people, even 15 years ago, and challenging them thus: “if you come into contact with new information which makes you realize that a particular way you’ve been thinking and living has been making you ineffective, SHIFT YOUR PARADIGM!” Up to this day, my wife, Anyele, reminds me that at that moment, I will characteristically jump from one spot of the room to another, to illustrate my point.
Come on, after all, “we live and learn.” Did not some wise Greek philosopher once say something like “I know one thing; that I know nothing”? Even Albert Einstein is quoted as stating, “The more I learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know,” an obvious remix of Aristotle’s “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” So congratulations if you know it all 🙂
In the next few weeks, I want to humbly acknowledge a few mistakes and missteps of mine regarding the whole idea of calling or vocation. In a series I’m calling “Confessions of the Called” I will basically share some further enlightenment I’ve received, particularly based on the work of my seminary president, Mark Labberton, in his book Called: the Crises and Promise of Following Jesus Today (2014).
In this book, Mark Labberton attempts to paint two pictures. First, a dull one of the current states of the world and the church and then a brighter picture of the ideal—what could and should be. The first third of the book summarises well “the crises and the promise of following Jesus today” and then for the next three chapters reboots paradigms about where, how and to whom/what we’re called, finally showing the way forward in the last chapters.
Having been a student and teacher of purpose/calling for the last 15 years I seem to think I’ve learnt almost all I need to know about the subject. I was curious to know if Labberton had anything ‘out of this world’ to add to my knowledge and experience. Thus the question I had in mind when I started reading this book proactively was, will I really learn anything totally new about calling than I already do?
BACKGROUND TO CONFESSION
A decade-and-a-half ago, when a bunch of us set out to start the WannaBe Institute, which later metamorphosed into The HuD Group, we were bent on “inspiring and empowering young people to discover their God-given purpose and reach their full potential.” That still remains the core of what we do although the mission has expanded beautifully into God’s grander purpose for leadership and mission in over a dozen countries.
I was personally sick and tired of young people sitting around purposelessly not realising that they were not a mere accident but an intentional creation of a very personal God who had a very specific purpose for their lives. We’ve since taught thousands of people how to find their specific God-given purpose in life, and write personal mission statements, especially by looking through the lens of the manufacturer’s manual (the Bible) and how they’re wired.
NOW, TO CONFESSION #1
I am sad to say that in my overdrive to help many emerging leaders quickly find their specific God-given purposes for their lives—to become “meaningful specifics” rather than merely “wandering generalities”—I inadvertently got blindsided from adequately pointing them to and thoroughly addressing their primary call. I have been too eager to move to “next things” (as Labberton puts it in his book), even putting “next things first” sometimes. I remember saying to my wife, Anyele, a couple of mornings ago, “Honey, I think we’ve overdone it.”
As I read Labberton’s book, it became obvious that my paradigm of calling is exactly the opposite of Labberton’s (and we just might both be coming from two extremes and need a “radical middle” as my Vineyard friends oxymoronically put it). This is how Mark states his perspective of calling: “Beyond these first things, God sometimes has next things” (emphasis mine). “Only sometimes?” I thought in bewilderment.
This is a radical thought for me. I sure do affirm the general purposes of God for our lives, the primary purpose of loving Him and our neighbour, but quickly move on to what I consider the ‘main thing’, which Labberton calls a temptation, finding God’s specific purpose for one’s life assuming everyone has this, always. I am considering writing to the author about my struggle.
Let me tell you why Mark Labberton thinks my specific approach hitherto is dangerous. TO BE CONTINUED…
Will you share your thoughts so far with me?
Life seems simpler when we can stereotype and put people and things in a box. But when your mental caricature is challenged by hitherto unknown facts or up close and personal encounters you had better shift your paradigm. Ghana’s new vice-president and his wife are making many re-think what being Muslim could look like.
A laser focus on God and goals through a concentrated time of fasting, reflection, purposeful planning and prayer at the start of every year has done wonders for my family, friends and I over the last 10 years. Why change a winning strategy?
WHAT GOT ME GOING
“Are we doing it again in 2017?” is the question (in an email) I woke up to on the dawn of the last day of 2016. “Of course, of course!” is the summary of my response to this dear Chinese-Canadian mentee of mine who has tasted the power of starting the new year right for some years now.
Meanwhile, earlier that week a Quebecois friend visited our home in Montreal to interview me on how I get to set my goals for every year. As I pondered her questions it had occurred to me that it may be a good idea to put some of these thoughts on paper for a wider audience and then that email on December 31 just got me going. So here goes!
NOT WITHOUT GOD
It is true that the end of a matter is even more important than the start but it helps a whole lot how you start also. As a doctor, I know that a child’s early nutrition can even determine their intellectual rigor and physical height (stunting) in latter years. So yes, how one starts matters a whole lot.
For me, starting the year with a God focus is not only the right way—it’s the only way to go. “In the beginning, God…” Those are the very opening words of Scripture in Genesis 1:1. How else would anyone want to start a new year but with the Originator of all things? Over the years I’ve come to call it “the Proto Principle”—in all your getting get God first. So yes, how does one start the year right? Not without God!
NOT WITHOUT GOALS
If you aim at nothing for 2017, guess what? You’ll hit it: nothing! “Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.” (1 Cor. 9:26, NIV) To run with purpose in every step and not just shadowboxing your way through life, you need to set goals.
The way I go about it is to have a framework that enables me to set goals holistically—in every area of life. Otherwise what happens is that only “the squeaky wheel gets the oil.” So I set:
- Spiritual goals—worship, fellowship, discipleship, service, evangelism/mission
- Physical goals—health, wealth, work, others
- Social goals—family, mentors, mates (friends), minnows (mentees)
- Mental goals—knowledge, skills, others
So yes, how does one start the year right? Not without goals!
PATH OF PRAYERFUL PRAXIS
Although this is an amazing framework that helps me not to miss any important area of life how do I determine what exact goal to set in that particular sphere? This is where the interview with my Quebecois friend got really interesting.
First there must be good praxis. Praxis is a big word that simply means deep reflection on your practice for action. According to Wikipedia, “Praxis may be described as a form of critical thinking and comprises the combination of reflection and action. Praxis can be viewed as a progression of cognitive and physical actions:
- Taking the action
- Considering the impacts of the action
- Analysing the results of the action by reflecting upon it
- Altering and revising conceptions and planning following reflection
- Implementing these plans in further actions.”
So I take a good look at how I’ve done life, say regarding my health in 2016. In pondering how I could do things better and my desired outcome regarding my health in 2017 I write down a health goal (diet, exercise, sleep).
And why do this prayerfully? First of all, life is too busy yet too short to go chasing every good goal; I want the God goals. King David had a goal to build a temple for God. Was it not a good spiritual and physical goal? But was it a God goal? No! God had other plans.
There are many good goals that come into my head during my praxis but in order to find the specific one that my Creator and Sustainer has for me this year I want to do my goal-setting prayerfully. It always amuses (yet even scares) me whenever I remember how God referred to the ‘good’ visions of some people in Jeremiah’s day as “delusions of their own minds.” Is this just a good goal or a God goal you are setting for 2017? I don’t want to be deluded!
So “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV)
Secondly, setting a God goal is one thing; accomplishing it is another. “Unless the Lord builds a house, the builders labour in vain.” I prayerfully set these goals for God power (ranging from anything from divine opportunities through intellectual rigour to physical strength) to enable me accomplish them to His glory and my joy.
For example, the circumstances surrounding the accomplishment of my family’s goal to purchase our first two properties—one in Ghana and the other in Canada—were nothing short of miraculous. Regarding the former, the landlord had literally laughed and sworn he was never going to sell that property when we first made the unsolicited offer. Later he would come literally ‘chasing’ us to buy it. Regarding the latter, God had kept it for two years on the market for us. All those who had previously made offers did not get the financing. Until we came along with God power…
So why bring God into this ‘purely human thing’ of goal setting for the year? For God goals and God power!
WAY TO GO
Thus since January 2007, for some of the reasons above (and more), an annual concentrated time comprising a 21-day fast with purposeful prayer and planning (P3) every January has wrought wonders for my family, friends and I. Now, it’s not even an option.
Why do we fast? That will be the subject of another entirely different blog but let me just put it this way, using an vehicular metaphor. Most cars on our roads are two-wheel drives (either front or back axles) and do a great job of taking us from point A to point B. When stuck in mud or snow however, you probably have seen those same cars spinning their two front or back wheels frantitcally yet making no progress. Those cars that are four-wheel drives (4×4), however, are able to engage an auxiliary gear which then gets all four wheels turning and off and away they go! Prayer is powerful in and of itself (like a two-wheel drive); adding fasting is like engaging the auxiliary gear in a four-wheel drive.
You may join my family, friends, co-workers and I, especially from The HuD Group and ISMC, from 5 to 6pm ET EVERYDAY from January 2nd to 22nd to pray together on the phone line +1-647-848-3378 with access code 1234577788#. In various countries there are organized groups congregating to pray at the equivalent local time as well.
Here is the schedule. The recommended fast is a 6am to 6pm full-day fast from food (or anything with calories) but not water.
“So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.” (Ezra 8:23)
Yes, how does one start the year right? Not without God goals and God power!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
The following is a Memo sent from the Office of the Global CEO to all The HuD Group members, associates and partners worldwide through the various country CEOs and will be of great benefit to anyone who wants to be inspired and empowered to fulfill their God-given purpose and reach their full potential.
First of all learn to put your religion into practice by caring for your own family
(1 Timothy 5:8)
Hands up; hands down
It was the last-but-one day in November. What a delight to see the whole family waiting for me at the Pierre Trudeau international airport in Montreal—it was a surprise! Considering that I had flown over 130,000 miles on 63 flights that year alone, it would be the exception that my family would be at the airport to pick me. I had no idea Anyele and the cubs were planning to be there. My heart was deeply touched. That was upon my last overseas trip for the year 2016. The excitement was palpable.
Then I heard from my dear wife that our older daughter had said in her excitement that I was coming home that day, “I’m so happy Daddy is coming to visit. I hope he stays for Christmas.” Visit? Ouch!
Although I had for months felt a deep impression on my heart that something along the lines of family was to be our overarching 2017 theme for The HuD Group globally—including hints from observations I had made of the lives of many young professionals in our circles—that profound statement ‘out of the mouth of babes’ was the final nail.
Out there or right here?
There are seven spheres (‘mountains’ or ‘pillars’) that shape any culture and society. Somehow in our quest to ‘change the world’, ‘impact society’ ‘make a difference’ or any other such parlance people normally use to express our desire to be significant there is a tendency to focus on any and every one of these spheres except the one which should be first and foremost—FAMILY. After all, everyone is born into one (no matter how atypical or even dysfunctional) and everyone has access to one. While becoming president to affect the course of a nation may be farfetched for the average Joe, one’s family is right within their circle of influence.
It is not an overstretched metaphor that the family is the cell (basic functional unit), of Church and society. Just like a disease process in the body is traceable all the way down to the cellular level so can the ills in any society. Think of cancer for a moment. Do you realize that cancer basically just means that ‘ordinary’ cells in a part of one’s body decide to go bonkers leading to an ‘extraordinary’ pathology which in advanced stages affect the whole being, even leading to eventual demise?
So why do we want to impact Religion out there, Education out there, Government out there, Media out there, Arts & Entertainment out there, and Business out there when Family is right where we are, right within our grasp, right now?
In the HuD Group, we teach how to discover and fulfill one’s God-given purpose. Try as we may, we may be “sincerely wrong” in our feeling and conviction that our Grand Designer has called us to any of these six afore-mentioned spheres of influence but we cannot be wrong that we are called to our Families! After all, we did not choose our parents or siblings—God who formed us and called us did. Who else is better qualified and uniquely called to influence the children from your own loins? When God has joined two together in the covenant of marriage how could there be an iota of doubt that the other covenant partner is your lifetime ministry?
When it dawned on me that I very well could be wrong that I’ve been called to youth or international students or to write or whatever I’m hotly pursuing globally now but I cannot be wrong that I’ve been called to Anyele and my four children (so far) I enshrined the following in my personal mission statement: “My Queen and cubs are my first and primary protégés. … The proof of my love for my wife and children is my investment of quality TIME and substantial RESOURCES in their lives. Seeing all of these family commitments as ministry, I pledge to honour my parents as well and make myself available and accessible to my siblings.”
“He will direct his children and his household after him”
It was E.M. Bounds who said, “Men are God’s method. The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men. ”” Again in The HuD Group we believe in ‘ONE Power’—the power of one person to change the world. Throughout Scripture when God has wanted to do anything significant on Earth he’s sought “a man” (male or female). Then, his/her family. In the first dozen chapters of the Bible alone think of Adam, Noah, Abraham…
In fact, do you remember why—apart from pure grace in election—God chose Abraham in particular when He wanted someone who He could partner with for global transformation?
“For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”” (Genesis 18:19, NIV)
From his immediate family, Abraham would later influence the whole earth with his progeny—including being the Patriarch of all three major world religions that jostle for Jerusalem as their ‘headquarters.’
Today, in the places of the world where the church is growing fastest it is partly because the Gospel is spreading along family lines and whole households are being saved and baptized. There isn’t a more rapid way to see the whole Earth filled with the glory of the knowledge of God. This is what Paul and Silas had in mind when the responded to the Roman jailer: ““…Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.” (Acts 16:31-34, NIV)
God’s method is men—(s)he and all their household. So important is family in God’s scheme of things that he rubbishes our so-called faith or religious fervour if first our own families are not well taken care of and says the atheist is better of! “But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.” (1 Timothy 5:8, NLT)
FAMILY AS CHURCH
“As for me and my family”
Thousands of years ago Joshua got the idea right. That ministry was first in here with family before out there, that God’s method was first one man and his/her family, thus his powerful statement to the rest of the nation of Israel:
“But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15, NLT)
One day it dawned on me that my family IS church. What is church? Is it not where two or three are gathered in His name? (Matthew 18:20) Or as Neil Cole beautifully put it, church is “The presence of Jesus among his people called out as a spiritual family to pursue His mission on this planet.”
Then I asked myself, why I was more interested in my Chinese congregation or The HuD Group or International Student Ministry than the Perbi family? That was about two years ago. I set out a long-term “Fellowship” goal thus: “See and treat my nuclear family as the CHURCH that they are!
–> Intercede for them FIRST
–> Apply all ‘one another’ scriptures to them FIRST
–> Not do/say anything nice to anyone without Naa and cubs FIRST.”
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Proto people in pleasing God pronto
I know we care about family in The HuD Group. But do we care about family too; or family first. When all is said and all is done then we give family the crumbs or when family is fully well taken care of and then the rest of the world gets the remainder? In the HuD Group we believe in the Proto Principle—that in all your getting get God first (the first and foremost commandment according to Jesus Christ). However, when it comes to loving people (the second commandment), is our family our Proto People or the rest of the world is?
Family first pleases God most. For example, the young pastor in his late teens was admonished by his mentor thus: “…if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.” (1 Timothy 5:8, NIV) The New Living Translation begins the verse this way, that your“…first responsibility is to show godliness at home…”
Easier said than done. Trust me, I know. Sometimes I do well to keep family first; most of the time I fail. It still beats my mind why we tend to be more concerned about strangers and ‘the whole world’ than members of our own household!
So as we focus on family first—not just family too—in 2017 what are you going to do differently after this paradigm shift? Whatever tactics, strategies and habits you take on remember that the proof of how well you’re doing in putting family first is the measure of attention, energy, time and money you’re investing in your own family.
I hope to share with you some of my SMART goals and practices for my family this year and look forward to learning from your best practices too!
Your number one calling is to your God-given family till Christ returns or calls you Home. Yes Home, to the ultimate family Person, “our Father who art in Heaven.”
So help us God! Amen!
Dr. Yaw Perbi
Puisque le voyage pour l’indépendance financière prendra plus de temps que vous ne le pensiez et sera plus difficile que vous ne l’imaginiez, le moins que vous puissiez faire est de «définir vos priorités», pendant cette Noël !
QUEL NOEL? PAPA NOEL!
Youpi, c’est encore Noël ! C’est l’une de ces fêtes d’anniversaire étranges où on ignore carrément celui est à l’honneur. Il est plus question des fêtards en lieu et place du concerné même de l’anniversaire.
L’une des raisons pour lesquelles il est plus question du Père Noel et non pas vraiment de Jésus-Christ, Dieu dans la chair né à Bethléem comme un bébé – c’est que «Noël est généralement une haute saison de vente pour les commerçants dans de nombreux pays du monde. Les ventes augmentent considérablement au fur et à mesure que les gens achètent des cadeaux, des décorations et des provisions pour célébrer la fête». Aux États-Unis, par exemple, on estime qu’un quart de toutes les dépenses personnelles se font pendant la période de Noël.
Le secteur du commerce en détail des États-Unis a généré plus de trois milliards de dollars américains pendant les congés de Noel en 2013. La valeur des aliments et des boissons achetés par les grands détaillants au Canada en décembre 2014 était de 4,6 milliards de dollars.
Voyons Noël 2014. La valeur des téléviseurs et du matériel audiovisuel achetés chez les grands détaillants au Canada en décembre s’est élevée à 543,2 millions de dollars! Sachez-le, je ne suis pas un grand fan de télévision ou d’écran géant. De toute ma vie, jusqu’à il y a à peine trois ans, je n’avais jamais acheté de télévision. Avant cela, chaque télévision en notre possession dans ma maison conjugale nous avait été offerte. Chose intéressante, pour moi, concernant les premiers téléviseurs que nous avons achetés avec notre propre argent, c’est que lorsque nous avons acheté notre maison en 2013, nous y avons trouvé deux téléviseurs écran plat installés dans la maison. D’ailleurs, c’était la deuxième maison que nous venions d’acheter dans deux différents pays.
Pourquoi cet ordre? Ceux parmi vous qui me connaissez bien sont conscients du fait que depuis 15 ans, je recherche de la Financial Whizzdom (l’art des finances). L’un des premiers principes que j’ai pris de l’auteur de Père Riche Père Pauvre, Robert Kiyosaki, est le fait d’acheter d’abord des actifs (quelque chose qui met de l’argent dans votre poche) avant d’aller vers les passifs (quelque chose qui sort de l’argent de votre poche).
J’aime la façon dont Kiyosaki clarifie cela pour ceux qui veulent polémiquer sur cette «définition» de l’actif et du passif: «si vous arrêtiez de travailler aujourd’hui, vos actifs vont vous nourrir; vos passifs vont vous bouffer». Est-ce plus clair? Les deux biens immobiliers que je viens de mentionner mettaient de l’argent dans nos poches d’une manière ou d’une autre. Et les téléviseurs? Bon…
Il y a eu des moments où je n’ai pas respecté mon credo, mais c’était important d’avoir à l’esprit et la discipline de produire d’abord des actifs et les passifs plus tard par rapport au fait d’avoir une télévision, du moins à mon avis. Définir ses priorités.
Parfois, je regarde avec une stupéfaction totale les jeunes possédants des passifs somptueux, surtout quand c’est un double passif en ce sens qu’ils achètent aussi ces objets à crédit!
LE NOËL DE DEMAIN!
Si jamais vous avez l’intention d’être financièrement indépendant – avoir un revenu passif n’excédant pas vos frais de subsistance de sorte que nous n’ayez pas à travailler toute votre vie – je vous assure qu’il vous faudra plus de temps que vous ne l’imaginer et cela vous coûtera plus que vous ne le pensez. Croyez-moi, cela fait plus de 15 ans que je suis dans cette aventure ; je sais de quoi je parle. Après plusieurs entreprises et de nombreux investissements dans plusieurs pays, je suis encore sur le chemin. Je n’y suis pas encore arrivé. Si vous vous serrez un peu la ceinture pendant cette Noël et celles à venir, vous obtiendrez sûrement des ressources de vos actifs pour vous nourrir et vous faire plaisir … pour la vie!
Je n’ai pas l’intention d’être un rabat-joie de la Noël. Je ne suis pas non plus partisan des mouvements Noel Sans Achats ou N’Achetez Rien. Tout ce que je dis, c’est qu’il faut fêter Noël d’une manière qui vous permettra de profiter d’autant de Noëls que le Seigneur vous permettra de vivre en bonne santé fiscale et physique.
Ma famille et moi allons profiter de Noël, donner et recevoir des cadeaux. Cette carte de Noël au début de mon article a été envoyée à nos clients et investisseurs par l’une de nos entreprises familiales, Adeshe Real Estate. Nous sommes sûrs de profiter et de partager Noël … mais en ayant aussi l’avenir à l’esprit. Au moment même où je suis en train d’écrire cet article, j’ai passé une grande partie de cette semaine à être un père au foyer parce que ma chère femme est absente. Elle est aux États-Unis pour conclure quelques marchés immobiliers.
Lorsque j’étais conseiller financier agréé à Investors Group il y a quelques années avec seulement environ un million de dollars en actifs à gérer à l’époque, c’était ahurissant pour moi de voir à la fin qu’il y avait autant de familles avec «plus de mois que d’argent.» Pourtant cette Noel, ‘tout le monde’ va dépenser comme s’il n’y aurait pas de lendemain. Vous ne souhaitez pas qu’à la fin vous vous retrouviez avec plus de vie que d’argent! Alors Définissez vos priorités. Joyeux Noël!
Translation: Timothée Zana Ouattara
Since the journey to financial freedom will take you longer than you think and be tougher than you envisage the least you could do is to put ‘first things first,’ even this Christmas!
WHAT CHRISTMAS? CLAUSMAS!
Yay it’s Christmas again! It’s one of those strange birthday parties where the birthday celebrant is largely ignored; it’s more about the partiers than the birthday bloke.
One reason why it’s more like SantaClausmas—than really about Jesus Christ, God-in-flesh born as a baby in Bethlehem—is because “Christmas is typically a peak selling season for retailers in many nations around the world. Sales increase dramatically as people purchase gifts, decorations, and supplies to celebrate.” In the U.S. , for example, it has been calculated that a quarter of all personal spending takes place during the Christmas shopping season.
The United States’ retail industry generated over three trillion U.S. dollars during the holidays in 2013. The value of food and beverages alone purchased at large retailers in Canada in December 2014 was $4.6 billion.
Consider Christmas 2014. The value of televisions and audio and video equipment purchased at large retailers in Canada that December alone amounted to $543.2 million! Granted; I’m not a big television or silver screen fan. I never bought a television in my entire life until only about three years ago. Prior to that, every television we had owned in my marital home had been a gift. The cool thing, for me, about the first television sets we bought with our own money is that we got two flat screen TVs installed in a house we bought in 2013. That, by the way, was the second house we had purchased in two different countries.
Why this order? Those of you who know me well are aware that for the past 15 years I’ve been on a quest for Financial Whizzdom. One of the early principles I picked up from Rich Dad Poor Dad author, Robert Kiyosaki, was to first buy assets (something that puts money in your pocket) before going after liabilities (something that takes money out of your pocket).
I love the way Kiyosaki clarifies this for those who want to get argumentative about this ‘definition’ of assets and liabilities: “if you stopped working today your assets will feed you; your liabilities will eat you.” Clearer? Both real estate properties I just mentioned were putting money into our pockets in a variety of ways. And the televisions? Well…
There have been times when I’ve contravened my creed but it’s a good thing we had the mindset and discipline to do assets first and liabilities later when it came to getting a television, at least. First things first.
Sometimes I watch with utter amazement the lavish liabilities shown of by many young people, especially when it’s a double liability because these things have been bought on credit as well!
If you ever intend to be financially free—having passive income exceeding your living expenses thus not having to work at a job all your life—I can assure you that it will take longer than you envisage and will cost you more than you think. Trust me, I’ve been on this journey for over 15 years; I know. After several companies and umpteen investments in multiple countries I’m still en route. I’m not there yet. If you squeeze yourself a little this Christmas and the next few ones, you could really have resources from your assets feeding you and fanning your fun… for life!
I don’t intend to be a Christmas killjoy. Neither am I an advocate for the Buy Nothing Christmas or Buy Nothing Day movements. All I’m saying is that spend this Christmas in a way that will enable you to enjoy as many Christmases as the Lord will allow you to see in great fiscal and physical health.
My family and I will be enjoying the Christmas, giving and receiving gifts. That Christmas card at the beginning of my article is one sent by one of our family’s companies, Adeshe Real Estate, to our clients and investors. We sure are enjoying and sharing Christmas… but with the future in mind as well. Even as I write this, I’m being a stay-at-home dad for much of this week while my dear wife is away in the U.S. closing a couple of real estate deals.
When I was a licensed financial advisor at Investors Group a few years ago with only about a million dollars in assets under management then, it amazed me how many families had “more month at the end of their money.” Yet this Christmas, ‘everyone’ will shop as if there was no tomorrow. You don’t want to have more life at the end of your money! Put first things first. Merry Christmas!
What is more disappointing than a Trump win is the trumpeting of “functional atheists” following the declaration of the winner of the U.S. general election.
I slept early this morning and woke up later this morning, thanks to my earnest following of the November 8 U.S. Presidential election results. I remember having the privilege of walking around in New York City, especially CNN’s booth at Times Square, eight years ago on Election Day and then watching history unfold as Barack Obama became the first ever African-American President. It was exhilarating. This dawn I was eager to see history being made again.
History was made alright but like millions of others around the world I am disappointed; but not quite for the same reasons most are. My disappointment lies not in Trump trumping all odds and becoming the 45th President of the United States of America but in the reaction of many ‘functional atheists.’
It was the astute modern educator, Parker Palmer, who I first read using the term “functional atheism . . . the belief that ultimate responsibility for everything rests with me.” A “functional atheist” describes Christians who “behave as though they believed what atheists believe.” In other words, people who say they believe in God and follow His Christ but betray this apparent belief by their attitudes, thoughts, words and deeds.
Even a decade ago as a young medical practitioner this phenomenon struck me but I couldn’t quite conjure a picturesque phrase to describe it as “functional atheism.” I used to be baffled, so baffled, at the attitude and reaction of most professing Christians whenever my medical staff and I had the hard job of informing them that their beloved one had passed away. Of course it is, always is, a heartbreaking and heart wrenching fact to soak in but the degree of wailing, blaming and such made me wonder… Actually, in my experience, the Muslims took the death of a loved one much better than most Christians. After a brief moment they would say something like, “Allah knows best” or “His will be done” or something along those lines.
Precisely so that there is no such ‘functional atheism’ surrounding death, the apostle Paul writes to Christ followers: “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13, NIV) Christians have a hope of a life after death which atheists don’t. So if we are uniformed and grieve like a hopeless atheist would, there is a problem, Paul seems to suggest. “For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14, NIV) So why do many Christ followers behave as ‘functional atheists’ when it comes to life and death matters?
Back to Trump. Christ followers believe, or at least claim to believe, that “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” (Romans 13:1, NLT emphasis mine) So why then are Christians who should know better behaving like it is white racists, sexists, and whatever other ‘ists’ who catapulted Donald from Trump Tower to the White House and not God by His authority for whatever purposes (which we will all soon find out as his presidency unfolds)?
Do we really believe this God stuff and Bible verses like Psalm 75?
Do not lift your horns against heaven;
do not speak so defiantly.
No one from the east or the west
or from the desert can exalt themselves.
It is God who judges:
He brings one down, he exalts another. (Psalm 75:5-7 NIV)
“So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.” (Romans 13:2, NLT) Why are my many Christian family and friends’ social media feeds not reflecting this?
What then should true Christ followers be doing after an election like this? “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:2, NIV)
So, if you are a true Christ follower and not a ‘functional atheist’ then read and obey the rest of Paul’s commands in Romans 13:5-7: “Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honour.”
If you are a true Christ follower and not a ‘functional atheist,’ then honour God by honouring President-elect Trump.
You don’t have to be well-versed in the Bible to know this self-styled ‘Bishop’ is a false prophet; so why the heck is he allowed to operate freely and with such audacity… and for so long?
TRUE OR FALSE?
The day I got on the same flight with ‘Bishop’ Daniel Obinim, O how I prayed! Neither the huge, blazing white 4×4 he was chauffeured to the Kumasi airport in nor his skimpy suit impressed me. His obviously bleached countenance was striking yet not even that occupied my mind like this doomsday thought: “is today the day?”
In the first place, I was wondering why on earth this Founder and General Overseer of International God’s Way Church did not just turn into a bird and make the short 45-minute flight to Accra since he claims he has the ability to turn into other creatures. Apparently he can turn into a lion, dog or snake and bite people to death on spiritual visits or siphon money from people and places (banks beware!). Perhaps he hasn’t upgraded to the avian realm yet—I don’t know and I don’t care—but clearly the ‘Bishop’ needed a lift that day. But why today of all days?
You don’t have to be well-versed in the Bible to know this ‘Bishop’ is a false prophet. Don’t let the things money or marketing can buy fool you. “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” (1 Timothy 4:1-2, emphasis mine)
Jesus Christ shows us the way to tell who’s true and whose not. First He warns us: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” (Matthew 7:15) Then he gives us the litmus test twice in a space of five verses: “By their fruit you will recognize them. (vs. 16 and 20)
Doctrine is important in telling who’s a real ‘man of God’ and who isn’t but ultimate test is fruit—their character and consequence of their lives. Things like their speech seasoned with salt, their love, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Let me not go into the litany of Obinim’s character issues, from slander to sex. By the way, according to him, his adultery with one of his junior pastors’ wife was meant to be a sign to his followers that he is human and not as divine as perceived by them.
Forget the miracles. Not all miracles are done by the Spirit of the Living God. Ask Moses and he’ll tell you about Jannes and Jambres, the famous magicians of Pharoah. “Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.” (Exodus 7:10-12). Later, these same sorcerers duplicated the changing of water into blood (7:22) and the production of frogs (8:7). However, the sorcerers were powerless to duplicate the other plagues (8:19).
You may recall that God gave Pharaoh and his magicians—and indeed all of Egypt—a very long rope. They had nine opportunities (you may call them ‘plagues’) to change their minds and their ways. Eventually by the tenth they did—but only when it was rather late. So much and so many had already been destroyed.
Feeling so annoyed and vindictive that July afternoon I was wondering: is today the day God is finally going to finish off Obinim? Would he have come to the end of the rope by the end of this runway? Oh, and my prayer was not so much for him but for me—that this wasn’t the day, time or the means by which God was going to bring Daniel Obinim to book because I would end up as “collateral damage.”
THE GOD WHO IS WEAK AND SLOW
So why hasn’t God killed Obinim…yet? First, for God’s sake. I’ve learnt a cardinal lesson from searching the scriptures this year that has shocked me, to say the least. It hasn’t been so much the fact that God wants His glory to be seen among all peoples, for his fame and name to be spread to all nations and throughout all generations per se. What I’ve found shocking is what He wants most to be known for—something my judgmental and vindictive self considers rather weak and unimpressive!
In Exodus 33:18-34:8, God told Moses He would proclaim His “name” before him. Then He proceeds to list some phrases or ideas (especially Exodus 34:6-7) which reveal that for which God wants to be “famous”:
- “The compassionate and gracious God”
- “Slow to anger”
- “Abounding in love and faithfulness”
- “Maintaining love to thousands”
- “Forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin”
- “Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.”
Ah! This is the very opposite of how the gods in my hometown and many other regions of the world are regarded. They are seen as powerful, hard to appease and delivering such instant justice that people who feel aggrieved would rather go and consult them than leave their ‘enemies’ to this seemingly slow and suspiciously weak God of Abraham.
In fact, these descriptive phrases of the nature of the Living God also appear later in Numbers 14:15-19, in which Moses prayed with respect—when God was really angry with the Israelites for their rebellion and grumbling regarding the Promised Land—reminding Him, so-to-speak, of how He wanted to be known among the nations.
Make no mistake, the Lord was angry, very angry. “How long will these people treat me with contempt? He said. “How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them…” (Ex. 14:11-12). Moses succeeded in assuaging God’s anger by reminding Him of His fame that Egypt and the rest of the world had heard about and challenged Him to display His strength and power. What is that strength and power? “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people…” (Numbers 14:18-19, NIV). God relented; God forgave; Moses succeeded.
TO GIVE OR NOT TO GIVE?
So why hasn’t God killed Daniel Obinim…yet? Secondly, for Obinim’s sake. God gives a long rope, a very long rope, but not forever. Contrary to what many think of God as never giving up, God does give up and give over (Romans 1:24,26, 28; Acts 7:42; Psalm 81:12) but He is very, very, very, so very patient with us. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) And when we finally give in, when we say we have done a 180, there must be fruit to show—proof by the way we live that we have truly repented of our ways and turned to God.
BEAUTY AND THE BASTARD
Two weekends ago I got off the phone with a cocktail of emotions, mainly deep anger. No, not at the suicidal university graduate full of potential yet now struggling to keep her own body and soul together plus that of her new-born bastard but at the so-called pastor, supposedly married, who put her in that situation.
I did not even realize September 10, the day we spoke on phone, was world anti-suicide day; but that lady had just narrowly escaped suicide the night before by chancing upon one of my blogs. She decided to hold off, hold on and gathered the courage to give me a call.
Self-styled pastors, prophets and bishops like Obinim who apparently are accountable to no one and do whatever they like ‘in the name of the LORD’ seem to get away with it…for now. Now you know why.
Before the flight would land, this beautiful, fair-coloured lady sitting directly behind Obinim and his aide-de-camp reaches out to the latter and asks for the ‘Bishop’s’ number. From where I sit I can see the grin on Obinim’s face as he nods in approval for the contact to be given. Business is booming, judgment can wait; here comes another victim.
It struck me to the core when someone made a very poignant quote: “when others are in the wrong we demand justice but when we are wrong we seek mercy.” How profoundly true! Now you know why God hasn’t killed Obinim…yet—it’s the same reason He hasn’t finished off you and me.