I love the Lord deeply and in all I do, there is a strong consciousness within me that says I am Christ’s and I have to live up to my status. But there is a conflict in my mind. I want to be youthful, enjoy the bliss of being a youth, scream with crazy friends, dance away my worries in a club with the loud music joining the speedy rhythm of my heart. Yet, I cannot…why? The consciousness within will not allow me. There is a new lifestyle I am getting to embrace. It is peaceful, insightful, somewhat adventurous and I can tell you I am loving it.
My name is Priscilla Coker alias Media Girl That Loves Jesus and you are welcome to Youth Today. This is our very first encounter and I am glad to meet you. I can strongly sense it is going to be an interesting journey all the way. So the gist on this column would basically be guiding tips and godly counsels for young people. Trust me, I know as young people, there are so many challenges we are confronted with and the old folks just do not understand. They seem to forget that society is changing and that they are analogue and we are digital…they just do not get it! Therefore, on this platform, we will talk about our challenges as young people living in the 21st century and how we can solve them like the Christians that we are.
Today, our topic for discussion would be how young Christians should socialise. What does it mean to socialise? Well, according to my dictionary, that is Priscilla’s Dictionary, it simply means ‘talking, smiling, gisting with just about anybody at any given time in a very friendly manner’. Why do we need to socialise? Spontaneously, I will say, we need to socialise because no man is an island. But purposefully, I will say we need to socialise because there is something we have that we have been instructed to share.
I hear somebody say, I am an introvert, and talking to people does not come to me naturally. I hear somebody else say, I am an extrovert but I do not understand what I have that was instructed to be shared. At this point, I would like to remind you, in case you forgot, that WE ARE CHRISTIANS- Carriers of Christ and Kingdom Ambassadors. It is important to note that whenever we see ourselves in the lenses of temperaments, we often miss out on the big picture.
Was Jesus Christ an introvert or extrovert? I will say he displayed the features of both but was not limited to any. He was quiet when he had to and outspoken when he had to. Jesus did all he did as he was led by God, his Father. From this statement, we can denote that he understood his life was purposeful, so every interaction he had was a deliberate attempt to share the good news of the Kingdom of God.
So you may ask, who am I allowed to purposefully socialise with? You can socialise purposefully with just about anybody at anytime and anywhere. One story that readily comes to my mind now is the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Jesus met her at the well and a conversation ensued. I can imagine the look on the faces of the disciples when they saw him talking to her! But because they knew how he comported himself; given that he did not just do things if it did not make eternal sense, none of them dared asked why he was talking to her.
So how do we not get distracted when socialising?
Romans 12: 2 says: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind… Therefore, our transformation and sustainability lays solely on the help of the Holy Spirit and our deliberate effort to renew our minds daily by God’s word.
Just remember what Jesus said in John 17: 16,”They (You) are not of the world just as I am not of the world.”
Till next time, keep socialising.
Priscilla Coker, popularly known as Media Girl That Loves Jesus is a freelance broadcast journalist. She is also, the founder of The Visionaires’Hub an online/onsite platform that promotes entrepreneurship, encourages mentorship through capacity development programs for secondary school students and internship opportunities for undergraduates. Priscilla loves singing and traveling. She blogs at priscillacokertalks.blogspot.com.ng
Sustaining Your Motivation
Have you ever started a great plan or a new resolution and somehow, one morning, it all didn’t make sense to you anymore to continue in that direction. Your energy dropped. You got demotivated. But when you first got a flash of the idea, it was so real you could almost touch the end result. It burned in your heart. You penned it down. You talked about it. You started out well in the beginning, but you had no trigger to fire you up and keep propelling you forward and upward. Or worse, a trigger brought you down.
Procrastination set in and then—its next of kin—laziness. A little distraction here and there. Somehow, as you walk the day, you carry that idea in your head. You know it’s still worth doing, but no more zest to pick up where you left off. Maybe you run into something that reminds you of that original intention and your heart skip a bit. As you postpone, the reality of the dream begins to wane until it’s totally gone.
On your journey to fulfilling purpose, in order to maintain consistency, you need to identify triggers that fire you up and address triggers that bring you down. This will help you sustain your motivation to carry on with your set goals. Ideally, we should all grow to the point where we are self-motivated by God and the Word. But not everyone has that level of maturity. Every now and then, you may need some kind of push to make progress. It may come from the right friends, powerful conversations, listening to audio CDs, listening to the man of God or merely observing the progress and impact of a certain Christian. Never underestimate the power of the encouragement such a trigger may produce. On the other hand, negative triggers such as jesting with the wrong friends, addictions, wrong movies, etc can bring down your motivation.
Assuming Jesus appeared to you tonight and just smiled at you and said, “I love you,” and left, you may almost quit your job tomorrow and go into ministry full-time because of the trigger of that brief encounter. It is unlikely that each of us will have such a supernatural encounter this year, but we do have a powerful trigger with us—the Word of God. Saturate your life and environment with the Word. Get an audio Bible; play it at home, on your phone, in your car. Read it at every opportunity. It will edit your life to press on in the right path unconsciously. Don’t rely on willpower to fulfill purpose. Willpower will take you somewhere, but God’s power will take you all the way. You will always maintain a focus on your essential purpose in life and your results will be clear for all to see.
-Tope S. Aladenusi
The Mirror Principle
When Paul said in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves …” he had the concept of what we now call a “Self-Audit” in mind. By self-audit, we mean an assessment of self to know one’s current stand or position based on specific criteria.
Proper audits entail not just coming up with findings, but following through to ensure recommendations are implemented. Many raise and know findings, but they don’t remediate. Conducting a self-audit is like standing in front of a mirror. The mirror doesn’t show you how you looked yesterday; it shows you your current look, now. When you stand in front of the mirror and find that your collar is not properly done, you set it right immediately. Or you find that your make-up is weird, you rub off or blend it in. It is how you look today that matters.
In the Olympic Games, if an athlete finishes first during the preliminary selections but comes in last on the day of the final selections, he will not get the opportunity to contest for the medal. Nobody remembers his former performance.Most times, our last performance has the greatest significance and may even rubbish all the other good performances of the past. Even if you raised the dead last Sunday in church, and a member of your church sees you driving into a night club the next Friday night, it is finished in their mind, even if you repent from it. Your relevance to your employer is not too much of how well you used to deliver, but how you handle your current assignment. A football coach who won the league last season can lose his job this season. In marriage, your best show of love is not what you did during the honeymoon. The honeymoon was sweet, but it’s long gone and forgotten. Your best show of love is what you display today. You are the best pilot in the world—that’s fine—but please, land this particular plane that I am on board safely.
Here’s how to audit yourself. One, have the right goals for every area of your life—family, relationship, devotion, ministry, profession, investment, training and development, health, etc. Two, set timelines for your goals—daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly. Three, review progress and identify impediments. Four, reset timelines and celebrate your success.
Take some time this week to set/reset/review your life’s goals and also do a proper self-audit.
To be continued next week.
-Tope S. Aladenusi
Demas Was Here
“Demas loves the things of this world so much that he left me and went to Thessalonica.” 2 Timothy 4:10.
Not much was said of the man, Demas. But he was obviously a colleague of Apostle Paul for a period of time. But the brief remark Paul made of him is not to be emulated. Let’s try to paint the whole picture in just one likely possibility.
Let’s assume Demas was an ambitious young man who had always desired to serve in the Roman army. He was on the path to being recruited when he witnessed Paul’s teaching about Jesus and healing the sick in one of the gentile communities. He was touched and had a rethink on what to do with his life. He accepted Jesus and soon volunteered to work alongside Paul in the ministry. Working in the field for Christ and yet reminiscing about the power and opportunities he could have been enjoying had he joined the army and risen through the ranks was his undoing. The pride, the power, the women, the booze and the seeming lush life. Then one afternoon, when Paul and his team didn’t have enough food to eat and being beaten by the sun on their way to Jerusalem, Demas saw an old friend who had become a high-rank soldier. He looked down on himself and considered himself a failure. His friend was headed for Thessalonica and offered an opportunity. Demas dumped the parchments and abandoned the work of the ministry and headed for Thessalonica. Maybe he didn’t renounce Jesus, but he now had a different priority.
Demas was here!
The devil has a lot of tricks to sweep believers off their feet. His tricks are subtle because what he uses does not necessarily have to be a bad thing. The phrase, “things of this world” does not necessarily refer to sinful indulgences. It encompasses an obsession about the needful things of life and also an indulgence in the world’s sinful ways. We know that pornography, drugs, sexual immorality, fraud, corruption, drunkenness, etc are outright world’s sinful ways of living, but there are other negative habits like addictions to games, sports and social media, undue attention to academic and professional pursuit, consumption of wrong Christian materials, teachings and doctrines, unhealthy spiritual information, or even an extreme attitude of focusing too much on the right things but allowing other vital aspects of one’s life to suffer.
Paying too much attention to worldly affairs that are not sinful in themselves can be tricky. They sap you of your energy to stay consistent in pursuit of goals that are of greater relevance both to the kingdom of God and your ultimate purpose in life. Sometimes you may need to take a break and evaluate your priorities and see whether they have become skewed towards earthly pursuits at the expense of your greater calling. Ask yourself how each activity you find yourself doing contribute to your purpose.
To be continued next week.
-Tope S. Aladenusi
A certain man had the habit of carrying around a bag containing 30 small pebbles. He dropped a pebble into a body of water each day he crossed a particular bridge. He would exhaust a bag of 30 pebbles in one month. This practice was his token for reminding him of his need to stay consistent with his goals in life. One day, he crossed the bridge with a group of friends and didn’t want to embarrass them with his common practice and decided not to throw a pebble into the water that moment. At the juncture on the other end of the bridge, his companions dispersed, except for his best friend who lived on the same street with him. He headed back on the bridge. When he told his friend his reason for going back, the friend mocked, “That’s a stupid thing to do. But if you insist, why not go home and sleep. Tomorrow, you can throw in two pebbles.” The man replied, “If I start doing that, one day I might be tempted to throw in seven for a week or the whole bag for a month or I would jump inside the water to serve forever.”
First we form our habits and later our habits form us. Then we can say we have achieved autopilot status. You want to get to that point where you start doing the right thing without thinking about it or with less effort. For instance, if you have been a believer for at least 6 months, I would expect the following should have been in auto-mode in your life: praise and worship; prayer; meditating on the Word; witnessing about Christ and giving.
Psychologists say it takes about six weeks for a habit to develop. It takes about three weeks to get familiar with a new task or new behaviour. It takes another three weeks before it becomes a solid habit in your life. Most people have never been successful in being consistent in their daily time with God because they’ve never made it past the six-week barrier without missing a day. Praying 30 minutes daily for 90 days can form a habit that can transform your life forever, for instance.
The best computer systems are all on auto-mode. Your bank is always available for transaction because they have systems that have been configured to be consistent. Imagine how cumbersome the process would be if someone has to personally send you your balance each time you use the ATM. When you develop the right habits, your life tends to be somewhat a type of such an organised system. By default, you are more attuned to doing the right things.
To be continued next week.
-Tope S. Aladenusi
Setting The Right Goals
“I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God ...” Philippians 3:14 (ASV).
The thing with most powerful success principles is that they often sound too simple to be the key. Set the right goals and get passionate about them.
Wait a minute. God didn’t just throw people down here because He has a vision that reads, “To fill the earth with 10 billion people by 2020.” No! He created every one of us uniquely to find purpose in Him and to be fulfilled. That means that we have to find that purpose and run with it. Conversely, running with the wrong purpose is impetuous.
What goals are you chasing? Have you set goals that are contrary to your position in Christ?Do you pursue goals just so that you relish the euphoria of your accomplishments?You hear people say, “I want to be the richest in my family,” or “I want to be the most popular minister in town,” or “I want to make it in this life before 30.” Again, do not run your life as though you were in a competition with others. Stop rushing into things because everybody is doing so. Don’t attempt to force yourself into limelight.
That’s the reason it is important that after giving your life to Christ, you deliberately get on the journey of discovery—that of the plans God has for your life through study of the Word and fellowship with Him in prayers. Document what God lays in your heart, and as you go ahead, you will begin to see ahead, without necessarily seeing the complete picture.
Now, a goal should not just be in one’s head. It should be written down in black and white, otherwise it is merely a wish. The difference between a wish and a goal is a plan. A goal is followed up with a plan of action with specific deadlines. Goals that have no deadlines are easily eroded by procrastination and the passion to realise the goals become waned with the passing of time. Whether your disposition is to move towards success (to gain something) or to walk away from failure (to avoid pain), develop a winning habit of acting out your goals and plans within the confines of the set deadlines.
To be continued next week.
-Tope S. Aladenusi
Consistency: What’s The Big Deal?
It took more than six thousand years for the world’s population to reach 7.5 billion people from the starting point of a mere couple. Even though deaths throughout history have made major deductions, yet one child birth after another has led to exponential population explosion across the globe. The first man and woman could have been bewildered about how and when the herculean task of filling up the earth would be achieved, but they went on to bringing forth the first child, anyway, and the next and so on. It was a matter of consistency over time before we would have peoples everywhere on the face of the earth.
The above illustration holds the key to what we make of our life from start to finish. One of the biggest culprits for people not doing what they set out to do is inconsistency. Have you ever wondered why people start out with great intentions, but fail to sustain it? Are you bothered about the difference between how your life is and how it should be? Why do couples start out with so much love and continue with so much fight? Why do graduates of the same set have different impacts 10 years later on?If you trace down to first cause, you will likely find the lack of consistency at the back of every underachievement. Consistency involves setting your sight on your goals and holding them there until they are realised. Understanding and developing consistency is one of the most important things you can do to improve the successfulness you experience in your life in general. In life, people who don’t execute their plans are no different fromthose without plans at all.
Rid your mind of misconceptions that get some believers trapped in the vicious circle of underperformance. To start with, realising purpose does not have to happen very fast just because you are a child of God. You have torecognise the place of process in progress. Also, as a new creature in Christ, you now belong with a new family and cannot come under a spiritual curse to make you a failure in life. What holds true in your biological lineage has nothing on you anymore. No one can hinder you, but yourself. Lastly, on the path of consistency, your aim is not to become a perfectionist, and having to deal with challenges or obstacles may not necessarily be a pointer that you are outside God’s will.
A lot people quit after a few attempts or they lose the courage they first had when they set goals. The success you see out there is the product of somebody’s consistency. As you persist in the direction of the goals you have set for yourself and consistently do the required bits, you will find that the universe will bring the right information, people, ideas and opportunities your way to help fulfill the goals you have set.
In the subsequent write-ups in this topic, we will address “how to maintain consistency in the pursuit of life’s goals”.
To be continued next week.
Tope S. Aladenusi
Managing diversities in the home
If you ask a single lady what kind of man she wants in her life, you would know in an instant that she’s in some kind of dream land if her checklist looks something like this: “Very Tall. Dark. Handsome. Six packs. Rich. Lives in Banana Island. Drives a Porsche. Very caring. Does not complain. Very Tolerant. Virgin. Amen.” Where do you hope to find a guy like that? Such guys are even scarce in the Bible. Most people know this list is funny and unrealistic. But it is surprising that we are almost like that when it comes to our expectations from our spouses in many regards. We have this self-made idea of what our ideal spouse should be like and we try to work it inside them. If we ever achieve anything from this expectation, it is that we have succeeded in chasing away peace from the home.
One very bedrock your family needs in order to fulfill purpose is peace in the home. For in the long run, you will not amount to much if there is always trouble in the home. Peace is very important and that’s why the devil is trying to take it away, because he knows that the lack of peace makes you vulnerable. Proverbs 21:9 says, “Better to live on the roof than share the house with a nagging wife.” You may say that’s not too fair for women. Now for men: “Better to live in prison than share the house with an insensitive husband.”
A major cause of issues in a marriage is the clash of personal preferences. Each marriage partner has his or her idiosyncrasies which may have been formed by different background, culture, exposure, fantasies etc. and these give varying worldviews. We are wired differently and are now united in the bond of marriage. The worst is, the world is trying to define to us what love is or how love should be expressed. A peck in the morning. Joint account. Lunch box for your husband. Rush to the car to welcome him from work. Dinner out every other week end. And so on. So where these things are not done, love may be waning. No! As nice as these activities appear, they are really our personal preferences, not scriptural references.
Many of us get into marriage with a long list of “nice things to have,” and they are only found in the mind, most times, not in reality. If you find things you want adjusted in your spouse, communicate to them and give them several years to adjust, because, after all, they probably have been like that for many years. We can be diverse in terms of our background and personal traits, but we can stand united. Remember, the husband and the wife is one. Let everybody be who God has wired them to be. Let peace and unity reign. So, as a rule of thumb, whenever you face any clash of opinion in your marriage, take time out to ask yourself: “is this my personal preference or is there is a scriptural reference to this situation?” You will find yourself beginning to calm down and it then becomes easier to become flexible about things. Your spouse is not your competition. Win-win!
– Tope S. Aladenusi
The Best Legacy For Your Children
You have heard many people say that the best legacy to give your children is education. That is wrong and not biblical. The best gift you can ever give to your children is Christ. That is the best legacy you can leave your kids with. To give them Christ, they need your attention. With the right values, your children will fulfill their purpose in life.
We should stop raising devilish technocrats in our homes. When kids are young, say before teenage age, they crave our attention, and if we don’t give it to them, we will be the ones craving theirs when they become teenagers or older. When you come back from work and the kids want to play with you and tell you stories of all the events that happened during the day, that’s an opportunity to shape their mindsets and habits. Grab it! But that’s when we are tired from the day’s work. We shut them down and play some cartoons for them. They are going to learn what is right and wrong from the TV and Internet if we are not there to train them.
You are the first role model to your kids. They learn from how you live your life. People learn about things by hearing about them, but they learn how to do things by watching people do them. Model Christ in front of your kids daily because they pick more from your actions than your words. It is the habits they pick up from you today that will govern their lives tomorrow. It appears our lifestyle today is tailored to only making a living. The devil has lied to many that as long as you give education, that’s okay. The devil is the god of this world and can easily penetrate the educational system. In fact, in some lands, he has successfully removed the “church” from schools. There is something more important than education. Teach your kids the Word, and they will excel anywhere they find themselves.
Watch the growth and progress of your children. Ask them questions about their views on Bible truths or how they would face different types of challenges or situations, and use that as an opportunity to teach them what you have learned from the Word. You can use role-playing also. This activity will help you decipher their motivation and help you mould them.
I like the Chinese proverb that says – “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” It doesn’t matter how long you have been missing the point, start giving your children the best legacy today!
– Tope S. Aladenusi
Managing Your Own Government
God willing, you may become a president of your country or the CEO of a thriving company or have a ministry with a global impact, and that comes with a lot of responsibilities. The expectations are enormous. Obviously, not everybody reading this will venture into politics or try their hands at a start-up or be led into full-time ministry. But just in case you think you have a better idea on how to run your country or manage the company you work for or transform the ministry God has placed you in and wished you were in charge of things, look no further. If you have a family, you already have where to start from. You already have your own government.
The family is the smallest unit of society, and the Christian family is a microcosm of the church. It deserves no less attention and management than any other sphere of influence that God has called you into. Paul asked a rhetoric question in 1 Timothy 3:5: “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” It’s striking that he uses the word, “manage,” because the family needs to be managed much like any other organisation—the church, a company, or a country.
The family is the zone where all the elements of man (that is, the spirit, soul and body) get sufficient attention. Make provision for the spirit and soul of every member of the family, without neglecting the body of everyone. Take care of yourself and your spouse. You are both emotional beings. You cannot get too spiritual to the extent that you do not pay attention to your spouse’s physical and emotional needs. Satisfy each other. Pay attention to your children, especially before their teenage stage. Make the effort to instill godly characters in them while they are still very young. Eat together as a family. Have close family fellowships where you can break bread together. In such gatherings, everyone can discuss a topic, and grow together.
To be continued next week.
– Tope S. Aladenusi
Love and Submission in the Family – Not A Transaction
Unless you went for window shopping, whenever you walked into a shopping mall, you definitely had things to buy. As you walked along the aisle, putting things into your cart, you were well aware you had cash in your wallet or purse, or you had your credit or debit card with you. The cashier handled your payment and issued you a receipt. Now everybody was happy. They had your money, and you had their goods. Transaction completed.
The above scenario is a familiar one, and somehow, we have come to see life mostly as a transaction—“give and take” or “take and give” and that attitude has been brought into marriages since two parties are also involved. The Apostle Paul gave a set of instructions for Christian households regarding relationships in Ephesians 5:21-33. Two phrases that readily come to mind are: “Wives, submit to your husbands…” and “Husbands, love your wives…” Many people have misconstrued these two injunctions to be a deed of partnership and have reduced marital relationship to a mere transaction.
So you hear men say, “I cannot continue loving this woman if she doesn’t submit to me,” and women, “I will submit to my husband if and only if he proves to be loving.” This is not marriage; at best, it is a transaction -“Pay Before Service!” Where marriage is seen this way, the problem becomes that of who gives first, and this further complicates things. Paul started his discourse on marriage by saying in verse 21, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” and the Bible also commands us almost everywhere to love one another. You see? The Husband is the Chief Loving Officer (CLO) and the wife, the Chief Submission Officer (CSO) in terms of overall responsibility, but each one has “love” and “submission” in their job descriptions because they are first Christians before they are couples. For example, Titus 2:4 says, “…Teach the young women…to love their husbands…”
The principle of love and submission is to be done by both husbands and wives. They should both be loving and submitting. I cannot stress the importance of loving each other enough. There are also times when a wife can have a superior idea or make inputs in grey areas that the husband didn’t take note of from the outset.
Love each other. One of the most striking things about God’s kind of love is that you can teach yourself to operate in it. Carnal love is completely motivated by the emotions or senses, but God’s kind of love comes from the heart, and although feelings are definitely affected, they don’t motivate or deter God’s kind of love. God’s kind of love is a choice you make on the basis of what God said, and then act on it in faith until it becomes a reality in your spirit, soul and body.
Make a commitment today to always be proactive in putting love and submission on the table in your family, and you will experience a home after God’s heart.
To be continued next week.
– Tope S. Aladenusi