Hey! Thanks for stopping by at my blog. I was listening to a minister of God preach in a meeting on a particular Sunday afternoon, and while he was performing biblical exegesis to drive home his points, a thought he shared became expounded in my heart and I just needed to write on it. Again, I couldn’t get a catchy topic for this, please bear with me (apologies in advance if the title and content are parallel. Laughs.). I pray that beyond the words, the truth will be expounded upon in your heart by the Holy Spirit. (Amen).
I think the world we live in is rooted and built upon competition and comparison as a performance metric for every facet of life. When you think of the best student in a class, you are basically saying the student did better compared to his mates. When you want to know the richest man in a clan, you compare his net worth with every other rich man in a clan. It’s so interesting most times that our sense of success is measured by how well we are doing compared to our peers or immediate environment. A lot of times, we say we are not competing with anyone, words like “zero competition” “no competition” “the only competition I have is myself…trying to get better and be a better man/woman” proceed out of our mouth, but you know the ‘tug of war’ that goes on in your mind or the flash of incongruent thoughts when you hear of a contemporary doing big things and making great strides. Not that you wish them evil, in fact you are so excited for them. But then, when you are about to sleep, the thoughts comes as a flash, sometimes, maybe as a subtle thought or deep thought, and at that moment you want to start evaluating your life solely because of the news you heard. And most times if we do not nip those thoughts in the bud, we sometimes end up feeling ‘defeated’ and ‘discouraged’ in our mind.
I remember my short stint as a volunteer in a primary school, somewhere in the south western part of Nigeria. It was the end of session, where parents come to school to receive the session performance on behalf of their kids. A particular mother received her son’s report and was devastated. Why? The son had an average of about 80% and had 8th position. I thought that was impressive but I was wrong. I felt the son deserved a pat on the back for hitting the 80% mark, but the mother thought otherwise. “’His mates with first, second and third position, do they have two heads?,’ The mother retorted”. I think for us sometimes as believers, success has been a function of where you are; the prevailing circumstances and measuring ourselves with others. I think at this point, it is imperative to ask ourselves, what is the object that serves as a performance indicator for success? How is success evaluated in the kingdom?
The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a SUCCESSFUL MAN; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. Gen.39:2 NKJV
The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it PROSPER. Gen.39:23 NKJV
How do you explain putting someone in Guantanamo Bay, and yet say he is successful? Sounds ironic right? I agree. How do you call someone being sold into slavery without any glimmer of hope of returning to his native land, a successful man? Was he successful because he was the Chief of Slaves or the Director General of Prisoners? I think this scripture disabuses our mind on the world’s definition of success. You mean to say, even in Prison, Joseph was successful? If then, why did he tell the butler that he wanted to leave (Gen.40:14-16). I think no sane human mind would want to leave a place where he is prospering. I dare say if you had an opportunity of interviewing Joseph in the prison and say to him “You are successful man”, you’ll probably find yourself in the Intensive Care Unit of a renowned hospital after the question. I like to think Joseph didn’t even see himself as successful but God calls him a prosperous man. Joseph was seeing incapacitation; God was seeing progress and advancement. How do you view your circumstances? The way God sees them or the way you see them.
I like to think Joseph was a successful man because every step he took, every situation he found himself in moved him closer to purpose and destiny. From the pit to slavery to prison to palace, God described Joseph as successful because in those precarious situations, he was getting closer to God’s intent for him (the expected end) – the palace. Success is advancing towards your purpose by instructions. Success cannot be determined by any other man except the God of the purpose (For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends 2Cor.10:18 NKJV), not by measuring yourself with others (But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 2Cor.10:12b NKJV). The best person to determine how much progress you are making in your research work isn’t your buddy but your supervisor. One of the things they emphasize in a research institute is that: “Don’t compare your work with what someone else is doing because every project is different. Your supervisors are in the best position to appropriately measure your progress.” You are running a 10,000Meter race but want to measure yourself up with someone in a 4 X 100 relay race? You want to build a skyscraper but you are fixated on the foundation of the one that wants to build a bungalow? (I wish you well in your adventure then. Bon voyage!) .In the competing and comparing game, we quite miss the point of PURPOSE. We leave the location of rest and transport ourselves to a state of anxiety, worry and fear. No matter how pleasing or ‘successful’ what you are doing is, if it’s not in line with purpose, though it may bring momentary satisfaction and euphoria, but trust me, it will result in weariness, frustration, or depression. Every step you take in proceeding towards your purpose is a ‘SUCCESS’ step.
Joseph was loved than all other children. He was his father’s favourite (more like the modern day version of ‘Daddy’s little boy’). His father made him a tunic of many colours (Gen.37:3). In fact, theologians have said that the colourful coat was the type that was won by royalty. Joseph being in his Father’s house seemed to be when he was most successful, but that was when he was farthest away from purpose (palace). Success isn’t about the circumstances (good or bad) or the competing or comparison, it is about progress in purpose. Little wonder you’d hear Paul say stuffs like: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2Tim.4:7NKJV) (Notice the constant use of ‘I’). Like my sister used to say to me while I was growing up, “Destiny is per-head per-head” (*forgive the tautology please. It’s intentional).
The answer to incessant voices of grading, comparison and competition you hear is to know God as your referee, qualifier, and approver (Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, BUT OF GOD. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant Gal.1:10 NLT) (Our PURPOSE is to PLEASE GOD, NOT PEOPLE. He ALONE examines the motives of our hearts.1Thes.2:4NLT). There is no need for comparison and no place for competition. I like to think this is the deathblow to the spirit of insecurity that can shift away our focus from purpose. There is growth in the process. Stay true to your assignment/calling/purpose. Take every ‘baby’ step of faith in response to the instruction received from the God of your purpose. There is freedom and security when God is the God of your purpose – your approver, qualifier. God’s plan for us is huge, and as the Lord was with Joseph, much more than our Emmanuel; God is FOR us; God is IN us; God is working in us to complete what he has started (Phil.1:6); The God on our inside is mighty. You can’t judge the destination based on your present location. A lot of moves will be orchestrated; dramatic turns, maybe even a complete overhaul or change of direction or even a complete change of strategy, but rest in the process trusting the one whose faithfulness has never been in question. Like Pst. Mathew Ashimolowo says, “It’s not over until you win”.
“Lord, please forgive us for forgetting that you are in control” (Jonathan McReynolds)
“Lord you’ve been faithful to plant the seeds. And you’ll be faithful to always send your rain” (Seasons Change – United Pursuit)
God will provide rain for the seeds you sow. The grain that grows will be abundant. Your cattle will range far and wide. Oblivious to war and earthquake, the oxen and donkeys you use for hauling and plowing will be fed well near running brooks that flow freely from mountains and hills. Isaiah 30:23-24(MSG)
Do have a beautiful week ahead, and Happy New Month.
Oluwafemi Olukoya (@simokool)