My Month of Developing Myself
By Pastor Amos Dada PhD; P.Eng.
My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.
21 Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck.22 When you walk, they[d] will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you.
23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, 24 to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress. Prov 6:20-23
Praise God its another new day, but more than that it is another month and I want to welcome you to the month of September in the precious name of Jesus. I pray this month will be your best month. There are two extremes to which people view and experience life. To some life is sweet while to some it is bitter. The two extremes are sweet and bitter, but the good thing is that most people are in the middle of the saddle. Those on the sweet side want to maintain it while those on the bitter side want to wriggle themselves out and move toward the sweet side. So wherever you find yourself in the saddle I want to help you move to the sweet side of life. After all no one throws away honey, what people do is search for honey. May you find the honey of life. Whether you want that honey in your marriage, spiritual, financial, material and career life, the path to locating it is called self-development. I pray that this month you will focus on developing yourself, not just for yourself, your relations your community but for our world. A better you will serve our world better. The good thing is that you can make it happen. This month, may your life be preserved, sweet, glorious and colourful in Jesus name.
The story was told. Lions love to eat gazelle meat. But it’s very difficult for lions to catch gazelles because the latter run so fast. So instead of trying to catch their quarry, a group of young lions will form a line and try to herd them in a particular direction. The gazelles easily outrun the lions, heading in the opposite direction towards supposed safety. Except they are unknowingly being steered towards a deep, grassy area where a group of older lions are hiding. The older lions are too old and tired to be part of the chase; many are missing teeth, and would never be able to catch their own meat. But when the gazelles are driven within close range, the old lions jump up and ROAR loudly. The startled gazelles, responding immediately to a new threat of imminent death, turn and run in the opposite direction. Right back into the mouths of the young lions.
The moral is that running from your fears and not facing them can often lead you into real danger and worse outcomes. In day-to-day life, the lions lying in wait may not be life threatening, but they are often false fears. You must not fear to develop yourself. Let us take a journey to how you can develop yourself.
Examples of People who developed themselves
Let me give you examples of three people that developed themselves and eventually excelled, because that is the essence of self-development and two that refused to develop themselves and decayed.
The first one is Joseph. This young man born to a family of twelve sons and one daughter, identified a great path for himself at a tender age. He began to dream, wrote down his dream, and made his dreams known, so that he could run with it. Faced with challenges in the home front, that eventually sent him from sweet environment to a bitter environment, he faced sexual , poverty and racial challenges. He kept his focus, kept dreaming and developing himself, even in the prison he was still developing himself. He kept engaging himself in brief business of dream interpretation and building clientele and career prospect. Eventually after 13 years of hard work from age 17 to 30 he achieved his noble objective and became a Prime Minister in Egypt; that makes him a template of success for his generation and many generations. Even when in office you still see the spiritual development, training himself on how to forgive those who hated him and sold him to slavery. You see him training himself on how to be a good father to his children (Manasseh and Ephraim) when presenting them for blessing with Jacob his father.
The second one is the man Elisha. Even though he was a successful man with a flourishing grazing business but God called him to ministry and changed his career. Just as I found myself changing career from Chemical Engineering to Jesus Engineering. God gave him a hard no-nonsense mentor by the name of Elijah who anointed him as a prophet (1 King 19:16). Elisha developed himself as a servant, always pouring water on Elijah hands (2Kings 3:11). He learned to follow his mentor to difficult places even when faced with peer pressure and uncooperative difficult boss (2 Kings 2:1-21) He learnt how to pray and prophesy, he learnt how not to be discouraged, he learnt how to ask questions from his superiors and how to reply his colleagues when pestered with difficult questions. He learned how to apply known principles, for instance when his boss crossed the river by exercising spiritual prowess. He did a similar thing when faced with the challenge of crossing river Jordan. He so developed himself that he did not only have twice the anointing of his boss, he so excelled in ministry that every king was consulting him for advice, sending their top generals to him for solution and more importantly performing double miracles than his boss did.
The third person was a nameless woman in the bible in 2 Kings 4:1-7. This woman was on the bitter side of life. At a tender age she became a widow. She never enjoyed her marriage for one day, poverty did not allow her and the husband. In the midst of these terrible poverty stricken, wretched life style, the husband died living a huge debt to terrible and merciless Creditors. You would have thought that with the death of her husband the creditors would have written off the family debt, no they were prepared to take the children and sell them to slavery. This woman began to develop herself in prayer, and did what is not common today, she learned the art of listening to God and asking God for directions. She learnt how to respect the anointing on God’s ministers. She learnt not to hide her trouble and refused to go to depression and commit suicide. She leant how not to broadcast her trouble to the wrong channel that will only make a mockery of her and bring her to community shame, but she sought genuine men of God. When this woman brought her case to Elisha:Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. 4 Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.” 5 So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. 6 When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. 7 She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.” What did you notice there, she obeyed in totality all the instruction. One key aspect of growth and self development is learning to follow simple godly instructions. This woman developed new career in ‘sales and marketing’ and she became prosperous. May you prosper in Jesus name.
Examples of people who failed to develop themselves
The first example of someone who failed to develop himself I want to mention his Ephraim. The story of Ephraim reminds me of the story of children of many rich people today. They blow up fortune. The money their parents struggled for and at times ‘Stole’, they lavish in a jiffy. “And Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands (for Manasseh was the firstborn).Gen 48:14. Ephraim was biologically not the first born and was not entitled to the first born blessing and inheritance, but God favoured him as you read above – God literarily crossed hand, to bless him. Joseph his father protested, Jacob his grandpa insisted. But before you know it instead of developing himself he went to town like the prodigal son of Luke 15. “I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from me; for now, O Ephraim, you have played the whore; Israel is defiled.” Hosea 5:3 In Psalm 78:10-11:40-42’56-57 the psalmist mentions that Ephraim did not keep the covenant of God; the generation refused to walk in His law, and forgot His works and His wonders that He had shown them. They provoked Him in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert! Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember His power. No matter the riches, if you do not multiply it, it will only diminish and never increase. It reminds me also of Christians children especially pastors and ministers ’ children who by virtue of their parent’s high spiritual voltage should continue to soar and start from where their parents are ending, but you see them engaging like Ephraim in dastardly, criminal, unwholesome, ungodly activities, indulging themselves like the sons of Eli (whom bible describes as sons of Belial) in terrible activities, sleeping around with women, spending church resources with reckless abandon and ending in the battle of the Philistines (Prisons’ and jails). You know at the end of the day, the name of Ephraim was conspicuously missing in the book of life and that of Manasseh who apparently developed himself despite the initial disfavour of his life was boldly written there Rev 7:5-9(Read my book Turning Curses to blessing )
The last example you can guess is Samson. Also another person that has so much rich spiritual heritage, anointed from his mother’s womb. While many people spend their life finding their purpose the purpose of Samson was revealed divinely by an angel (Judges 13). But instead of developing himself, obeying God’s command he delighted in pursuing strange women (Judges 14:1,16:4) like Solomon at the detriment of his career and future for which God turn the kingdom away from him 1King 11:1-11. When you fail to develop your God given talent, gifts and treasure you end up in the bitter side of life.That will not be your portion.
How do I develop myself?
The question is how do I develop myself?
- Reading. The first thing is reading, acquiring information. Ben Carson narrated in his book Think Big how he failed miserably in Grade Five and how his mother forbade him from watching television and wasting away and sentenced him to go to the library and compelled him to read two books a week. The dumbest in Grade Five has become the best in Grade Seven. I recommend that book for you particularly if you are a young person reading this article. My grouse with this generation is failure to develop appetite for reading. The environment has also worsened the situation by technological advancement and social media development. I remember during my doctorate program in University of Benin in the late 1980s how I was forced to read and spend days in the library. Compared to the time in the process of finishing the programme I have to go to University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) I was introduced to Search Engines in 1996. Today instead of people reading all you see is time wasting ventures, Facebook, Tweeter and forwarding irrelevant things all over the place. Read a book a day, or a week or at least one book in a month. Reading helps you develop your mental capacity. What people buy and sell in life is knowledge, or skill, one major way of developing that is by reading! Directly or remotely your prosperity is hinged on your ability to read. A reader is leader.
- Maximize your Time. Last month the Youth of Christ Apostolic Church Bethel Toronto had a retreat and I shared with them this time chart analysis. I made them realise that every human being has 24 hours. These 24 hours is divided to three segments of 8 hours, the first 8 hours is for you to go to school, work and do the necessary. The next 8 hours is for you to sleep/rest. The last 8 hours is where people distinguish themselves. Whereas some call those 8 hours play time, others call it developmental time. I narrated to them my school days experience in secondary school. We had a friend of ours who joined us in the equivalent of Grade 11, (Form 4 in those days). He did not know Math. So anytime we had math period he will walk out before the Teacher comes in, claiming he had ‘free period.’ Then he will go and play Table Tennis. We finished school and he secured a permanent job with West African Examination Council (WAEC) in Yaba Lagos. Though I also missed my steps after we left secondary school but by God’s grace I found myself in Federal school of Arts & Science a school in Victoria Island in the 80s in Lagos State. Summer time came and most of us in our first year got Industrial Attachment job for three months with WAEC. In those days universities used to publish names of those who gained admission in the daily papers. One of those days my name was published, I had secured admission to University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University. This friend called me. “Dele, “he said ‘so you are on your way to University.” I said of course. “So in four years’ time now you will come back and become my boss, I will be carrying file for you.” I said sure. “Do you know that my problem is this Math thing. I know what I will do. I will resign and go and study Math.” Because in those days you cannot gain admission to university without at least a pass in Math. This my friend resigned and spent two years to retake his school certificate examination (equivalent of grade 12 Diploma) and eventually went to University of Lagos to read Mass Communications. What is the significance of this story? You don’t have a free time. The 8 hours you are wasting every day is what you need to convert to usable time to become what God wants you to be. It was at the time the Olympic Games was going on in Rio, Brazil, I asked them. How come you are not in Rio competing like others? Who decides who goes to Rio, after some wrong answers I made them to realise –You are the person. You may need someone to discover you, but if you have not developed yourself even if you are discovered it will be a wrong you! To develop yourself watch what you do with your time. This is the way bible puts it.
“ In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know
which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.” Eccl 11:6
- 3. How we think determines our direction and desires. However a person’s destiny is not determined by desire, but by discipline. If we are excited about teaching ,information and fresh revelations and think biblically in church on Sunday morning but differently the rest of the week we won’t become what we want to be. Once you identify the area you want to develop yourself, develop the discipline to carry it through. For instance exercise self control over your emotions. Charles Stanley said “Although emotions make life richer and more meaningful, they can also derail us if we let them master us.” We must control our appetite. In Proverb 6 as quoted above Solomon advised his son about sexual appetite. An over indulgence in sleep can result in laziness, a craving for too much food produces gluttony, weight and health isuues,an uncontrolled appetite for sex may lead to immorality and/or pornography. To develop yourself discipline is a key word to use.
- Prayer and Holy Ghost. Peter in the scripture really want to develop himself and was willing to follow the Master. But much as he struggled he was failing, denying his Master, practicing fishing that he had abandoned immediately Jesus died was not his best but he was helpless. Just like you and I we have made frantic attempts to develop ourselves and we have not succeeded as we wished. What was the missing key? In Acts chapters 1 and 2 Peter engaged himself and other disciples in aggressive prayer in the upper room that led them to change their destiny forever. When they were baptised by the Holy Ghost. Unfortunately, most preachers ignore this third personality of the Trinity now a days and so the church is just running on motivational speeches and prophetic massage. To develop yourself, find a closet to pray, find an uppreroom pray until you are baptised in The Holy Ghost and top Him up in your life daily and you will get to your destination as Peter and others did.
- Others. Time will not permit me to elucidate on others. I will just mention them and you will go and develop them. Organize yourself to wake up early, commit yourself to a daily routine of praying or exercises or both, weekly routine of going to church, learn to do something consistently, form a habit of doing something good that will improve you and commit to it. If you are in the choir learn to write/compose a song, Take a risk, task yourself, stretch yourself, leave your comfort zone, stop procrastinating, write a book, learn how to play an instrument, piano, guitar, violin, trumpet. Go the extra mile to help others, be generous, and develop a positive mental attitude.
Conclusion Successful people create and pursue S.M.A.R.T. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. When you identify S.M.A.R.T goals that are truly important you, you become motivated to figure out ways to attain them. Like my friend that I shared his experience above. What is it that you know you need to do to better your lot, a new diploma, change of career, a new degree, a Master’s Degree, a doctorate degree. Last April; I was in Joseph Ayodele Babalola University (JABU). The Head of Counselling and Guidance Department was the one that ministered during a combined service in the university. She narrated how she told her friend that she wanted to go for her Master’s degree and the friend said ‘what are you going to do with a Master’s you are too old. In my own case whatever I have not read my children will be reading it.” The woman went and finished her Master’s and went for a Doctorate. When she was going for the convocation ceremony the old friend heard about it and came to accuse her of not inviting her, she said it was not necessary. You never wanted me to go. Today she is the HOD in a university. You are not too old to develop yourself. You are not too young either. The Bible says” Daniel purpose in his heart” Can you too purpose in your heart today, this month to develop yourself? You will be glad you did! I will see you at the top.
Do not forget to attend International Gathering of Eagles Conference, September 15-18, 2016.22-94 Kenhar Drive, Toronto Ontario Canada.