A few months ago, I was chatting with a colleague in his mid-thirties, let us simply refer to him as ‘Mr.X’. Mr. X has two young children aged 8 and 10 whom he regards very fondly. He is a professional banker who does well on his job. However, he’s featured in my story today because he had his ear lobe pierced as a teen. I remember with laughter how he tried to explain that away to his kids every time they asked. He has never been able to convince them he said and so they keep asking. How does he explain that in youthful exuberance he had his ear lobe pierced but would not want his son to do same? He says that it feels so pedestrian now, almost 20 years afterwards . When he sits across the table at a business meeting, a part of him wonders if he is perceived different because of that obvious piercing, (a choice he made when he was a young impressionable teenager). Next is ‘Mr. Oracle’, I will just call him that. He set his eyes on a definite career goal and when he gained admission into the university, he spent every vacation working at firms within the discipline, often times for no pay. He did that every holiday and that ensured that when he graduated at 19, he had gained significant leverage that helped jumpstart his career. Today, when I speak with him, he sounds wiser and at least 5 years older than he actually is. He boasts of a career to date that leaves me with a proud mother hen grin and I know that he has a long way to go. Again,I recall a certain young man who I first met when he was an undergraduate. He was very keen on student politics at the time and so I would simply call him ‘Mr. Politico’. He just could not be bothered about keeping his grades up and didn’t realize that the University environment was nothing like the ‘real world’. He would rather be out there politicking where he was popular for the duration of his study and paid no thought to life afterwards.
Now, what do these three stories have in common? Choices!!!
I would like to ask us to take a step back and consider the future when we make choices. Mr. X told me in no uncertain terms that if he had considered himself as a father when he was 16, he was sure he would not have bowed to peer pressure like he did. He would have talked himself out of it seeing that he had no plans to build a career in the creative arts where such an ear lobe piercing may have been acceptable. Mr. Oracle had taken on Warren Buffet (the Oracle of Omaha) as a role model at 16 and started to make choices to ensure he was prepared for the role of a finance specialist. Whilst his friends stayed home during the holidays playing video games, he worked at an office, gained critical exposure and confidence and amassed experience that ensured that at the time he was graduating, not only was he earning a degree, he had built critical relationships within his chosen discipline area and so was miles ahead of his peers most of whom were starting out with their first jobs. Not only did he graduate top of his class, his resume spoke of better choices as did his manner of communication. After all, he had spent all his vacations working with adults. Upon graduation, Mr. Politico soon found out that life wasn’t all it seemed. In the immediate grandeur of the university campus, he failed to consider his background and his future. He failed to make choices that ensured that he made good grades and at least for a start left the university with a good degree. Those choices haunted him and significantly impaired his ability to start off his life after school successfully.
Too many times, we hear the maxim, ‘you only live once’ and we throw all rationality and caution to the wind. No, you don’t live once when you make poor choices, you live several lives of pain and regret. I’d like you to pause and ask yourself whilst you make that choice, would I be comfortable with this choice in 10 years? When I become a husband, wife, father, business owner, would I celebrate this choice? The advent of social media has left us with an absolute lack of discretion. Pictures, information and details are posted in public domain without any introspection. In the words of Mrs. Nkoyo Rapu, “Young people are not discrete. Don’t put everything you do on Twitter! An army does not win a war with weaponry but with strategy”. To this, I would say again, choices. Choices! Be circumspect.
Choice is a big deal because even God does not force us to go against our will, So what choices are you making today? I’m going to sample a few to enable us go back and think through the choices we make
- Time- As regards your time, are you spending every spare second you have idling away on social media? I know someone who was able to write a book for children simply by clawing back time from shutting down her phone and writing in the car on the way to and from work every day. Are you intentional in your deployment of the scarce resource that time is? What better choices can you make as regards your time? I hear people say there is no time to read, so we are not reading and not learning but some of us spend hours reading irrelevant material off gossip magazines and watching movie after movie day after day or just hobbling around several social media channels. In the words of my dear friend, @ikeamadi, “Do Something”. Infact, he wrote a lovely book about it. So, the question is, what are you doing?
- Friends and Family- How are you choosing those with whom you spend the most time, those that influence you even without your express permission? Are you deliberate in your choice of friends? Are you making time out for your family? Are you balancing work and family? Some weeks ago, I lost a close friend, for me, she would never have a replacement; I am sure same holds for her immediate family and friends. However, her office has moved on and has since replaced her. Now, that is deep but true. The reality is that for your family and friends, you have no replacement. Do you make choices that reflect that reality? I learned a long time ago that the hierarchy of importance is God, Family, and Career/Ministry. Too many people place career and ministry ahead of family. Wrong choice! Are you making the right family and friend choices?
- Financial and Career- Are you making the right financial choices? Are you investing, thinking ahead of your retirement and considering leaving an inheritance for your children’s children? Are you learning how to make your money work for you? Or are you brand driven, spending money you do not have to prove a point to people that do not care? Are you driven by trends, keeping with the Joneses’ and spending all you have to pay for a vacation because everyone is going away? Are you living from hand to mouth to just maintain a particular lifestyle? Do you have land? Do you have financial investments? When it comes to career decisions, what choices are you making? Are you growing and gaining mastery? Don’t hop from place to place simply because you gain bargaining leverage. Can you plan your career and make the choice to stay somewhere and grow? Money fast made is quick spent.
- Eternity- I would not be able to close this post without talking about Eternity, a time where time ceases to exist. Are you making choices that reflect eternity? The Bible says in Matt. 7:13-14, ‘Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
The Message Version says “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention”. Are you making choices that reflect eternity?
The journey to eternity requires us to actively choose life and is vigorous and requires our total attention. Are we choosing to ‘find’ that path or are we just ‘walking’ in our default positions, where we just found ourselves? That default position with no active resolve is the broad way. Many there be that just walk in it but the narrow way requires a choice to ‘find’ it.
In summary, it is not too late to begin to make better choices. It is time to choose, I choose wisdom, I choose understanding, I choose life.
Image Credit: Google Images