BY PASTOR ALLEN OLATUNDE
TITLE: IN THE DAYS OF YOUR STRENGTH
TEXT: JUDGES 16:15-17; ECCLESIASTES 12:1
Like every other man, so also a young man called Samson. He had tremendous potential as you do. Not many people have started life with credentials like his. He was born as a result of God’s plan to deliver Israel from the threat of the enemy. The Bible says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11). Also in Jer. 31:17, God declares concerning you that, “So there is hope for your future,” declares the LORD. You are not born by mistake or biological discharge. No! Whether from a broken home or abandoned parents, you are a complete creature whom God formed for a purpose. Samson was born to do a great work for God - to rescue Israel from the Philistines. To help him accomplish God’s plan, he was given enormous physical strength as you are also endowed. However, Samson wasted his strength on practical jokes and on the lap of Delilah. Delilah kept asking Samson for the secret of his strength until he finally grew tired of hearing nagging and he gave in. Samson, the mighty warrior, became a slave that spent his life in humiliation. He lost all potential of his days because of short term gratification and later spent his last days grinding grain in an enemy prison as a blind man. What a wasted potential!
YOUNG ONES, LISTEN TO ME
God has never given anyone potential for meaningless display. He gave to make eternal profit. “To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability” (Matthew 25:15). Your ability is put together as your potential in the days of your strength. Your time, opportunities, age, physique, skills, appearance, spiritual virtue and character shall determine your longevity of your strength.
GREAT EXPECTATIONS WITH DEADLINES
In the days of your strength, there are great expectations from the past heroes, this generation and the coming age groups. All eyes are on you today. We believe and equally anticipate that success shall crown your labour of this six (6) years of learning in this school in the name of Jesus Christ. However, some people had earlier passed through this great school and their success is crystal-bright because they managed their days and strength well. The strength you have today, I mean, your teen age, muscular physique, beautiful outlook, brilliant performance, ready-to-support parents, good results, affection for technology, ability to think well, competitive drive, and passion to achieve. All these are actually attached with time-bomb of lifespan.
The days of your strength is in the mid of your life when all you think are mentally possible; when success dreams fly round your mind’s conference table. Actually, success in career and life is possible with God and your timely perspiration. It should begin with you at this moment. Graduating from college is like waking up from the bed for the day’s work. All strength is set to take off. All dream is perfectly clear. All potency of intuition is sparkling bright. Then success is sure with God in you and by your side.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE DAYS OF YOUR STRENGTH
Before you begin climbing up the ladder of success, make sure the ladder is leaning against the right building to avoid sudden fall. I have these instructions for you. One of the very worst uses of time, I mean lifetime, is to do something very well that need not to be done at all. This is purely abuse of lifetime. The days used for wrong assignment cannot be regained even after doing the right. And taking actions without thinking through is a prime source of these pitfalls. To avoid these pitfalls, planning is incontrovertible and indispensable, i.e. planning of your strength within the days when strength is potent. Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now. Your future starts now. The strength you have has already started countdown.
SHORT TERM FOR LONG TERM
20% of your activities – educative learning or acquiring skill – will account for 80% of your results. Your schooling effort at teen and youthful age will determine your lifetime remuneration, career success and old age survival. If you are to live 80 years, 20% of your life is 16 years and if 100 years it is 20 years. Whatever you are able to acquire within age range of 15 years to 40 years of your life will equal to delicacies on your table, comfortable shelter for your body, contribution to the society, service to God and benefit for old age. The time is short but meaningful things can be done. Orison Swett Marden says and I quote that, “Every great man has become great, every successful man has succeeded in proportion as he has confined his powers to one particular channel.” Jack of all trade will never achieve anything. Doing ‘this’ and doing ‘that’ only sap strength to achieve zero.
SACRIFICE FOR THE FUTURE
Future intent influences and often determines present actions. Successful people are those who are willing to delay gratification and sacrifices in the short term so that they can enjoy greater rewards in the long term. Bible says, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again” (Eccl. 11:1). The unsuccessful people, on the other hand, think more about short term pleasure and immediate enjoyment while giving little though to the long term future. Do not assume bigness as from today. Diligently grow in hardworking, learning, apprenticeship, studying and researching from the “Big Ones” – your teachers, parents, lecturers, senior ones, boss, and instructors without counting the pain, shame, humiliation and denials. They are short time sacrifices for big time and lasting enjoyment.
NO ENOUGH TIME
There will never be enough time to do everything you have to do. Age and time fly with no remorse to what you should have achieved or not. Life is packaged with priorities. To manage your days correctly, you must set posterities as well. A priority is something that you do more of (all the time) and sooner while posterity is something that you do less of (seldom) and later, if at all. The Bible says, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps 90:12). Birthday celebration is good time to remember that some days have been used up. Day and night run to meet each other and the weeks roll on steadily. What you achieve within the month tags the month. Therefore, learn to say “NO” to consumers of time and lifetime. Say “NO” to anything that does not add high-value to your time and life. Youthfulness is not long as you think.
LAWS OF SUCCESS IN THE DAYS OF YOUR STRENGTH
The first law of success is concentration. To bend all the energies to one point, and to go directly to that point, looking neither to the right nor to the left. This was the law that God gave to Joshua after Moses death, “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go” (Joshua 1:6-7). Paul also obeyed the law – “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14). Pressing, straining, and focusing on ONE THING enhances concentration that distraction cannot withstand. What to do: Do things that are very important, something that you must do – like reading and studying. Delegate what others can do for you. Delete what you know are not necessary for your life and delay what is important but not urgent till another day.
The second law of success is sincere self-grading. Give yourself a grade. Isaiah once did it, ““Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips...” (Isaiah 6:6). You know your strength and weakness better than anyone does. Your strength preserves time while weakness consumes time. Use all available opportunities to identify your weakness to improve on it positively. Here is one of the greatest questions you will ever ask and answer. “What one skill will have the greatest positive impact in my life and career, if I develop and do it in an excellent way?” As from now and henceforth, do what you can, and what you should with what you have where you are.
The third law of success is immediate action. Learn to take immediate action that will transform your life, for procrastination steals time and opportunities. In colleges, teachers instruct you for immediate action but in tertiary institutions, it depends on you alone - no close and persuasive instructors. Assignment will be given without thinking about your convenience or schedule for domestic works. Start to do right things at the right time with immediate effort. Success calls for single step action. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Therefore, no matter the level of your ability, you have more potential than you can ever develop in a lifetime.
The fourth law of success is learning. You aim higher to be great in your career and life, then learn what you need to learn so that you can be what you dream of. For continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field. There is one thing that everyone needs to possess to change himself, environment, choice, beliefs, value system and actions. This is KNOWLEDGE. Knowledge is known as information. And information is formed by the numbers of data we get from reliable sources. Knowledge can save 40 years of your life from stress and struggle with 4 hours of privilege information. Knowledge can be sourced for through LEARNING. There are seven (7) ways of learning; they are observation: When you keenly and purposefully watch a thing without questioning or participation, observation has occurred. Interrogation: When you are inquisitive about something in form of questioning, then interrogation is in process. Research: This is a bit close to interrogation but farther in time and results. Research for information may last many years, just to formulate data to solve problems. The researcher will go extra mile to expose WHAT, WHERE, WHY and HOW of a thing. Apprenticeship: It is the act of bending or bowing low to learn under a person for a duration agreed by the parties. Participation: When there is collective effort in discovering data with the expert. The novice will be allowed to do the miniature work while watching the professional doing the core ones. Meditation: The act of ruminating on what has been observed, questioned, researched, participated and read in calm and solitude mood. Lastly, Reading: This is an act of gleaning data and information from written books. When you sit back to learn from others that are dead or alive, far or near, in a solitude and readiness to change, you learn more. Learning by reading should be at least one hour every day.
The more you learn, the more you can learn. A professor will die a professional with his/her work impacting after while an illiterate will reduce to ashes of nothingness, i.e. he/she cannot add any value to his/her world and such lives on suggested influence of the society. Just as you can build your physical muscles through physical exercises, so also you can build your mental muscles with mental exercises. There is no limit to how far or how fast you can advance except for the limits you place on your own imaginations. The Bible says. “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).
PUT PRESSURE ON YOUR STRENGTH AND SET DEADLINES ON YOUR DAYS
For this one life that you have, decide for yourself what you really love to do and then to throw your whole heart into doing that special thing very, very well. For Bible says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…” (Eccl. 9:10). Concentrate all your thought on the task at hand now, for the sun’s rays do not burn hard until it is brought to a focus. Put pressure on yourself now before society, parents, families, religion, friends, marriage, age put pressure on you. Create imaginary deadlines for yourself and strive hard to achieve them before age and time knock you down. Youthful age has deadlines. Passion to be (exuberance) and drive to imagine (intuition) is for a while. Whatever you achieve with them is what will be in your archives for life.
OPPORTUNITY IS NEITHER FRIEND NOR FOE
Opportunity comes down like simple, gentle bubbles which will later grow wild and soaring wings like eagle and it disappears into the thin air of no return. Opportunity of parents; I mean, good, reliable and responsible parents, opportunity of good education, opportunity of good learning materials are not forever. Opportunity comes with distractions and fallacy. Technology is your friend but can also be a distractor if not managed. Addiction to food, lust, romantic novels, music, fashion, friendship, sporting, betting, partying and so on can speedily become catalyst hormones that will develop wings for your opportunities to fly away.
Life and opportunity are not permanent friends. In few minutes, let’s look into the consequences of wasted opportunity which is equal to waste life. Opportunity of life comes in mask and does not look attractive. Consequently, many have ignore its lovely appealing. A lost opportunity is lost forever – bitter truth. The consequences are future regret, horror and pain of waiting for another opportunities, shame and contempt in the neigbourhood. Whenever another opportunity surfaces, there may be no more equal strength, support, structure, satisfaction, and interest to use as they were.
YOU ARE A COMPLETE INVESTMENT OF GOD
Your age is a rare blessing from God. Your body is a complete investment of God. You are expected to honour God by fleeing from every evil vice, lust, tattoos, truancy, cultism, alcoholism, addiction, gambling, crazy fashion trend, prostitution, etc. Your opportunities should be able to earn you bonus for old age. Whatever you sow now, you will reap. God gave you parents and guardians to protect your life from falling. Do not reject the counsel of your parents as uncivilized. Learn from their past errors and flaws. Their twenty (20) years journey can be travelled together within the moment of counseling. Their used or wasted opportunities should guide you when you get to such bridge. And if there are failures, do not be another poor specimen for coming generations.
KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS
Strength can come as physical beauty. Watch out for pluckers and suckers of beautiful, juicy and ripe fruits. They lack conscience. Any plucked fruit will be sapped of her juicy and her remains will be thrown off by the roadside. Remember there is no permanent, ever-beautiful Miss World. Age and time deform the contours without your consent. Manage your body very well. Eat well. A good opportunity of life without good body is a waste already. Avoid cancerous make-ups and skin-bleaching substances. All these will shorten your years of usefulness.
BRAIN AND HEART
Your strength of vibrant brain and healthy heart cannot be underemphasized. It is really on your side now. You have opportunity to think wide, store up information, criticize constructively, review and diagnose issues, decide and judge with your potential cerebrums. Your heart is healthy to run up and down. You achieve whatever you dream. Your heart pumps blood accurately and adequately into the body without any tension. It is an opportunity indeed. The Bible says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Prov. 4:23). Avoid evil thoughts, oriental meditation, impossibilities, unforgiveness, malice, revenge and corrupt practices. Think right. Your brain has the capacity. The research shows that only 15% of the brain is used by a genius when new thing is discovered. And till now what have you discovered? You can use your brain to solve societal challenges through your profession. I challenge you to be the first in Africa to discover anti-Ebola vaccine, anti-corruption formula, sixth sense technology, solar energy in the dark, new mathematical theory after your name, new device and system for electricity power supply, anti-cyber detector without internet, creation of new vocabularies, think-tank of the nation policy formulation, etc.
WHAT I SEE
To this point, I want to say what I see in you. The graduating students of Patterson Memorial Baptist Grammar School, I see a great strength in you that produces the newest African neurosurgeon. I see profound, eloquent and fearless lawyer. I see amiable, diplomatic and classic ambassadors of Nigeria. I see the next peace and Nobel laureate. I see the philanthropist, excelling and international Business tycoon. I see the youngest space engineer. I see international economist and World Bank president. Sky is not your limit. God is your limit.
WARNING ON YOUR STRENGTH
Now from the preacher to boys and girls, in the book of Ecclesiastes 11:9, it states that, “Be happy, young man and lady, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment.” “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”— before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; …when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags himself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets. Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:1-7).
Strength ends in old age when there is recounting of dreams and chanting of unfilled aspirations. It is a must for all. A time when regrets fill the air and pleasures disappear. A time when teen ages and youthful ages shall become a movie clip in the abstract, ever watched but cannot be edited. However, you are better than the old ones now. My brothers and sisters, remember your Creator now as you aspire to get to the top of your dreams.
FOR THE PARENTS
Before I conclude, I have these words for the parents:
1. Believe your children’s dream and passion. Support them with seasoned counsel.
2. Do not mismanage their strength for your foolish gains e.g. prostitution, beer parlor attendants, gains from friends of your children, etc.
3. Create environment for their passion through your blissful relationship with your spouse. Your marital inconsistency blows away their dreams like whirlwind. Settle your differences in time.
4. Join hands together to build pillars that your children can lean on. Support them financially. Do not pamper.
5. Watch your actions, for your children playback what they see you doing.
6. Pray for them always and be a parent of “do what I do” not “do what I say”.
“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Eccl. 12:13-14). To escape the judgment, and to spend your time meaningfully, there is a man called Jesus Christ. He has lived on this earth with perfect record. He has power to see you through your journey. If you can submit your life, career and plans to Him, He will give you life here and thereafter.
Written and delivered by
Pastor Allen Olatunde (The Chaplain)
Reference: Brian Tracy. Eat That Frog. Benin City: Joint Heirs Publications, 2007.