Lesson #6 –People may initially seem to express their talents, gifts and calling in a negative way, but leaders should help steer them towards the right course.
I recently read the first mail we sent out to our subscribers on 13 April 2003 and could not believe the number of typos I found in it. I recall that in the first five years of Christ Lifeline operations, we sent many articles to our subscribers without properly editing them. In the last 5 years however, most of the weekly devotional messages we have sent out have been edited by Ijeoma Onyenobi (Ijay) – one of our Partners. Why did we make the switch?
The first time we pleaded with Ijay to review a weekly devotional write-up, I vowed never again to send out any more without passing them through a second or third level review. Ijay almost “tore that article apart”. She has a way of first understanding the message you want to pass across and then upgrading the articulation admirably. She reorganizes ideas into perfect sequence and sometimes, deletes the “rhymes” that you hold dear. By the time she is done with her review, you almost feel like doing a course in Linguistics. In fact, there are times she spins my articles into excellence that I feel guilty to consider myself the author. I’d like to share with fellow leaders a good lesson from our “discovery” of Ijay.
Ijay and I worked together in the same organization at one point. This company believed in displaying the highest standard of ethical values. One of the ways they constantly reminded us of these ethical principles was by sending out emails containing “ethical dilemmas” and requesting comments on how we would deal with the issues. One of such emails was sent on 23 July 2007 to all staff and comments started pouring in from left, right and centre. After a week of receiving several “off key” comments, Ijay sent a mail to the over 600 staff picking holes in both the question and responses. When I read her mail, it made a lot of sense, but I can tell you that she had to attend some top management meetings after that mail. A few months later when Christ Lifeline executives started searching for an editor, that event kept recurring on my mind, and today, Ijay does not only pick holes in our articles, she helps us restructure syntax to develop more edifying messages that bless lives. Her talent was initially perceived as rude by some of our Directors, but God was steering her towards a right course.
As leaders, we must remember that some people are like Moses; his assignment was centred on stopping the injustice of the Egyptians to the Israelites. But the first time he attempted to give expression to his assignment, he killed an Egyptian for maltreating an Israelite. Such people usually give indication of their gift / calling by way of something they claim to hate, something they constantly complain about or wish they could put an end to. People may misunderstand their intentions and even criticize their actions but Christian leaders should see the real intentions of their heart and appreciate the connection to their assignment on earth and, the expansion of God’s kingdom. Looking back, I recall several stories like the one described above; God has helped us discover many great people around us, even though the initial expression of their talents, gifts and callings may have been misconstrued by many.
Nevertheless, in assisting to provide guidance, we are learning to apply Jesus’ teaching in Luke 16:10 (GNB) “Whoever is faithful in small matters will be faithful in large ones”. In the past 10 years, we have violated this principle from time to time and have experienced similar situations like the story below, a pastor shared with me in 2004:
A brother came complaining bitterly to the pastor that their church had neglected evangelism – the heartbeat of God. He said he felt grieved to see much attention being paid to frivolous matters when God’s original design was for all believers to be committed to the ministry of reconciliation. The pastor, determined to correct the situation, appointed this brother (the “complainant”) as head of the evangelism unit. A few weeks after this brother was appointed, he absconded from the church and never returned.
May we always rely on God’s wisdom to sieve the wheat from the chaff as we steer others towards maximizing their God-given gifts because not every “complaint” is an indication of a “calling”.
– Tope S. Aladenusi