It’s my birthday (1st Oct)! I’ve been graced enough to turn 22. Thank you Jesus for not just allowing me to see another year but walk into this new age victorious. Life is surely a marathon and not a sprint. I still got a lot of miles ahead of me. But there is no harm in standing still to reflect on how far I’ve come and the lessons learnt along the way. Rather than listing my achievements and trials & tribulations, I will focus on the latter half reflecting on key lessons that have shaped me into the man I am today.
So here it is, twenty-two lessons on my 22nd birthday.
1) In all toil there is profit: To toil means to work extremely hard. Since a child, I have worked hard whether that was in school, at home or at work. I was raised to work hard and reap the fruit later. In doing so, I’ve learnt to not be disheartened when working towards something and not seeing the results immediately.
Many times I have given my all in the process of achievement and fallen short of the crown I was hoping for. However, in all instances where I have laboured sincerely and built up sweat equity there has been a reward in the end. Whether that was through the lessons I learnt on the way or the sheer joy of being humbled. It sounds counterintuitive but it is still a profit if there is something to gain.
In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty ~ Proverbs 14:23
2) Humility will take you far: I have been celebrated on multiple occasions. I have won awards and been recognised in front of leaders across the globe. I have achieved most goals that I have set for myself. But one thing that has sustained me throughout is learning the lesson of being humble. To be humble is to appreciate you are not here by your own might. It is foolish to think that what you have achieved is due to your efforts alone. That is the thinking of a prideful person who won’t go far in this race we call life. Humility is everything if you want to live a sustainable life and one pleasing to God. So I remain humble and never forgot where I came from which allows me to go even further.
A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit. ~ Proverbs 29:23
3) Godliness with contentment is great gain: There are so many reasons for us not to be content anymore. We have social media that gives us access to witness lives we wish we were living. Whether that is the frequent 7-star hotel trips or the luxury goods on display. It is easy to mistake inspiration for jealousy and dissatisfaction with your own life. I learnt how to be content with what I have but strive towards what I want. In doing so, I vowed not to compromise my values or side with evil to obtain riches that will eventually fade away. It is better to be content with what you have than to walk an ungodly path. Not all money is profit nor are all gifts of worth.
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? ~ Mark 8:36
4) Mind the music you listen to: Whether you like to hear it or not, what you listen to affects you’re behaviour and how you think on a daily basis. I grew up listening to a lot of rap music and derogatory sounds. This most certainly shaped how I thought about the world, treated those around me and caused abrupt changes in my mood. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more intentional about the music I listen to and the sounds I let enter my surroundings. I now listen to edifying sounds and words of inspiration that have made me more at peace. Since I’ve become mindful, I’ve become more in control of my destiny.
David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him. ~ 1 Samuel 16:23
5) Choose peace: In this life, something or someone will always try to disturb, agitate or frustrate you. The answer is peace. Choosing peace is an intentional action that may require sacrifice but will benefit you in the long run. Avoid trying to fight against peace for a meaningless cause. If it costs you your peace, it is too expensive.
It is to one’s honour to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel ~ Proverbs 20:3
6) You can’t do everything: If you were created to do everything then you would not need any help. Our creation is vast because we all need each other and are created to do different things. It is unhealthy to try and do a million things in the name of productivity if you don’t have the capacity. That is a sure way to experience burn out then glorify rest once we learnt our lesson. The lesson to be learned here is to do what you can and do it well.
Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom ~ Ecclesiastes 9:10
7) Do what you enjoy not what’s trending: Sometimes we go to that restaurant, fly to that country or play that music because everyone else is. It might not be what you initially enjoy but you are willing to try. Don’t feel pressured to continue to live a life that trends but find what you truly enjoy and make memories from it.
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it ~ Psalms 118:24
8) Friends come and go: We develop through life in stages which require different friendships. Not all friends last forever and you have to be ok with that. The end of friendships is not always a sad ending but may be a mutual understanding to move forward in life. The beginning of new friendships should compliment the season ahead of you.
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you ~ John 15:15
9) Give yourself some credit: You are most likely your toughest critic. It is understandable. To achieve greatness you have to be disciplined and strict in areas others are not. But don’t forget to give yourself credit where credit is due. Alongside being your toughest critic, remember to be your greatest cheerleader.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them ~ Ephesians 2:10
10) You can’t please everyone: This is by far one of the hardest lessons I have learnt. Trying to be liked by everyone and maintain approachable is not practical. This is not a pass to intentionally offend everyone you encounter but a warning to be satisfied with those you walk with and have impacted.
If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you ~ John 15:18
11) Social media is not real life: There is a world that exists outside social media and the internet. Don’t spend too much time being consumed by media and an influx of opinions. Enjoy real and physical creation. You can build meaningful relationships offline and nurture existing ones. Frequently assess yourself to ensure you are excelling in real life just as you are online.
Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. ~ James 1:23-24
12) The world is broken (do good, love): There is so much evil prevalent in the world that God is calling on you to be a light. Don’t conform to the standards of this world and participate in wrongdoing. You can’t fix the entire world but you can help piece some of it together through your morals and daily actions. That being said, do good and love others.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome ~ John 1:5
13) You will make mistakes, forgive yourself: We all make mistakes. You may slip up from time to time. But it is important to forgive yourself. We can’t change the past but can alter the decisions we make today for a promising future.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you ~ Colossians 3:13
14) Laughter is good for the soul: When you’re belly is aching and you can’t breathe from laughter it is a sign you're in good hands. Continue to laugh and be merry!
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; ~ Ecclesiastes 3:4
15) Only by prayer & fasting will some problems be resolved: I may talk about God and spiritual things a lot but there is a good cause for it. As I’ve grown older I have learnt that this earth is not just physical but spiritual. Anything that appears in the physical first appeared in the spiritual realm. Most problems I’ve encountered such as sickness, fear and unnecessary setbacks were resolved when I entered into a time of prayer & fasting.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds ~ 2 Corinthians 10:3-4
16) Community and counsel are key: It is not attractive to be a lone wolf. Yes at times you may need to work alone and face some challenges by yourself. However, it is important to be involved in a community and seek counsel. Get around people who genuinely care for you and can guide you. You can learn from anyone. Don’t do life alone but with people.
Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counsellors there is safety ~ Proverbs 11:14
17) You can’t buy honour, you earn it: Honour is earnt over time. By seeking to serve people daily you will begin to gain respect and recognition. People will sing your praises once they can vouch for you. This does not happen overnight or through a financial transaction. But through a consistent way of living and seeking to serve.
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips ~ Proverbs 27:2
18) Patience is key: It is not easy waiting for something you want urgently. Especially when it is something you know you can have today. However, patience produces our capacity to wait. Learning to delight in the wait prevents the hastiness and hurry the world demands from us. Good things come to those who wait.
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint ~ Isaiah 40:31
19) Learn how to execute: A skill that is rewarded and sought after is someone who can simply get things done. I’ve learnt to become a doer rather than fantasize. Having a vision and plan is great but executing is better. As time goes on, I’ve learnt to improve my execution of tasks, projects and God-given responsibilities. If you have been burdened with a desire to achieve something, go out there and make it happen. You never know who is watching. People are counting on you.
And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills ~ Exodus 31:3
20) Your health should be the priority: Health is truly wealth. You can’t do much when you are sick, tired and drained especially if it is self-inflicted. Avoid running yourself to the ground to please people. Look after yourself. Get sufficient sleep. Prioritise what makes you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy.
You shall serve the Lord your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you ~ Exodus 23:25
21) Respect the process: The process is known as a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end. It is easy to wrestle with the satisfaction of the progress you’ve made when the end is so far. When I tried to take shortcuts and didn’t trust the process, I ended up paying for it. When I rushed the process, I found myself burnt out. When I neglected the process, my joy was thieved by comparison with other people's journeys. I’ve learnt to respect the process to reach the desired end.
Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more because God took him away ~ Genesis 5:24
22) Stay in the right lane: The crowd always seems larger when they are heading in the wrong direction. It is easy to doubt whether you are doing the right thing when you’re the minority. People are sheep and have a herd mentality. You must be able to think for yourself, be decisive and stay in the right lane.
But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it ~ Matthew 7:14
Listen to the full episode: https://open.spotify.com/episode/17MIQhvjWpaL9o0bBoLffd?si=DuOTXqhaTIu5tRCga2pFmA