I am beginning to slowly figure out this thing called life. It’s taken a while, but I am steadily getting there. For the most part, I crawled into the labyrinth of life, ignorantly and without guidance, sense of direction, purpose or focus. To say the least, it’s been a crazy ride defined with an abundance of tears, regrets, and most importantly, valuable lessons. Granted, I have made mistakes. Stumbled. Hurt people. Disappointed many. I have ignored wise counsel and paid the price. I have wasted time and money, and lived to be remorseful. I have squandered opportunities. Taken advantage of friends. Been taken advantaged of. My heart has been broken. My hope has been quashed many times. I have lied and been lied to. I have been falsely accused. Called names. Humiliated. Disgraced. Laughed at. Intimidated. Belittled. Harassed and mocked. Friends have deserted me, others have betrayed me. I have been lonely. I have shed tears when no one could see me. I have cried my heart out in the deepest dark of the night. I have been on top of the mountain, but then I have equally been down the murky valley. I have tasted success, and also wallowed in failure, shame and indignity. I know what it feels to have abundance. I also know what it feels to have nothing. I know what it feels to be loved, but I also know what it feels to be betrayed, dumped, rejected and considered good for nothing. This thing called life Without mentorship and godly guidance, I was left to discover this thing called life on my own. And boy! did I make a mess out of it! Most of what I know now has been as a result of trial and error. Tasting the waters with both feet. Youthful bravado that is more fueled by peer pressure, ego and pride than good counsel. I remember at one time, blowing 50K in one sitting all in the name of having fun, living the life, though if you ask me, it was more of showing off and pleasing friends. I have had my heart broken to pieces. I know what that means. I know how cold, those tears feel when they roll down your cheeks in the middle of the night. I know that feeling of pure rejection. Hating yourself and always feeling like you can never be good enough. I have been in debts to the point of contemplating suicide. I have slept hungry because of foolish financial decisions. I have been sick because of an unhealthy lifestyle. I have drunk myself almost to death due to frustration. I have regretted. I have cursed. I have blamed everyone around me for my failures, instead of taking full responsibility for my life. I was young, foolish and restless. Trying in my own ability and ignorance to figure out this thing called life. It backfired on me, and it backfired big time. Well, despite all I have gone through, years later, here I am, alive, more wiser, stronger, all by the grace of God. I am now enlightened, mentally and emotionally studious, and more determined to never let life beat me down again. A righteous man may fall seven times, and rise again, declares Proverbs 24:16. Life has beaten me down to my knees. Broken me into pieces, and spat in my face. But then again, life has also been good to me. It has preserved me. Tolerated my ignorance, and over and above, taught me valuable lessons that the educational system and parenting were unable to. Life’s little lessons It’s those little lessons I want to briefly share with you with the hope that I will help someone as a stepping stone towards their success and greatness. And if you ever wondered why I am so passionate about mentorship, well, there is your answer. It’s amazing how God in His grace and mercy has a way of weaving your mistakes, failures, and weakness into something wonderful that He uses for His glory. I have seen lives of young people I mentor dramatically transformed simply by sharing my story. Reminds of Romans 8:28 that says all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. And one of my favourite Scriptures is: 1 Corinthians 1:27-28. I says: “God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. He chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. He chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.” So, if you ever feel you don’t qualify. You are not good enough. You don’t add up. If you ever feel despised, rejected, humiliated, disgraced, useless – well, just know that according to that Scripture up there – you are the best candidate, fully qualified for God to use. Life has taught me the following valuable lessons that money would never have bought. Lessons that I have hung onto with the very last thread of my life. Lessons that have made me who I am today – a slave of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has fully given his life as a earthen vessel to be used by God. From a village boy who grew up herding his dad’s sheep, while battling jiggers and malnourishment to a simple man who by God’s grace has directly impacted the lives of over 10,000 young people… and still counting. Yes, if God can use me, he definitely can use anyone. Well, get your pen and paper, class begins now: Put God FIRST above anything or anyone else. Don’t live like you will never die, and end up dying like you never really lived. Be not wise in your own understanding. Put God first and your life will be so fulfilling. Understand that we are here on earth only for a season and for a reason. Don’t be wise in your own eyes. Don’t try to do things with your own wisdom. You don’t know everything and you will never know. You can’t fix your life without the mercy, grace and love of God.There’s a greater power, a greater person than you. His name is God, Almighty. Proverbs 14:12 says “There’s a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Allow me to quote for you Proverbs 3:5-6. It’s a Scripture that has always brought balance and guidance to my life. It says: “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil.” (Message Bible) Anything that does not affect your destiny and purpose in life should never worry you. Life is about priority, so let the most important thing be the most important thing. Stop worrying about things that do not affect your destiny and purpose. Stop being so concerned about what people say about you. Stop forcing yourself in someone’s life. Live your life. Be you. Be happy with you. Mind your own business. Pursue your destiny. And finally, whatever you cannot control and whatever does not matter should never be a priority to you. You are not the CEO of the world, and neither are you the savior of the world. Live your life. Concentrate on what matters to you, your destiny, your purpose in life and your God. For by end of it, it’s the only thing that will count. Don’t be defined by the opinion of others. Stop living your life for others, and being a people ‘pleaser’. Don’t allow to be defined by other people’s skewed opinion about you. Be yourself. You have your own self-esteem. It’s self, then esteem. It’s yours, so you determined it yourself. More importantly, don’t be defined by the things you own, the clothes you wear or the car you drive. Don’t be defined by your education or career. Its all vanity, for at the end of your life, its your relationship with God and what you did for Him that will matter. Be defined by your character and morals, integrity, humility and a good heart. And finally, don’t measure your progress in life using someone else ruler. Galatians 6:4-6 says “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” Choose your friends wisely. Remember you are an average of the friends you hang out with. Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are, it’s said. Your friends can make or break you. They can build, or destroy you. If a friend doesn’t positively add any value in your life, that’s extra baggage, cut them off without apologies. You’d rather have one quality friend, than a quantified bunch of back-bitters, gossipers and envious friends who will bite their tongue when they see you succeed. A fool is a wise man’s ladder, goes an African Proverb. Choose your friends wisely. Don;t be used as a ladder by your selfish ambitious friends. Ensure you have a mentor. Have someone in your life you respect and look upon to be your mentor. Someone with integrity, good morals, God-fearing and mature. Someone who will offer wise counsel, guide you, help you in crucial decision-making and be there for you. Mentorship is super important in your personal and professional development. Don’t be a know-it-all. You don’t and will never have the monopoly of knowledge and wisdom. Be humble enough to learn from others, especially the ones who have gone before you. What better person to teach you than the one who’s been there and done it all! Proverbs 15:22 says “Plans go wrong for lack of advice (mentorship); many advisers (mentors) bring success.” I wonder, could it be you have been struggling in life because you lack advisers? There are so many precious little lessons life has taught me, which I cannot document all here. Its one of the reasons by God’s grace I founded the Living Effectively Mentorship Program (LEMP) with the aim of equipping individuals to discover their purpose, maximise their God-given potential to live effectively on earth as they also become agents of change. Author, Douglas Waudo, LEMP Founder.
Last week, the gods decided I needed to attend one of those peace workshops in the lead up to the general election in some fancy hotel in the heart of the city. The chandelier obsessed conference hall is dotted with men in well-cut Brioni suits, and ladies in colourful, royal elegance Hillary-Clinton-like power suits twenging stereotypically their NGO jargon of capacity building, milestones, indicators, outcomes, deliverables and sustainable goals. Without warning we are slapped with this commanding voice: Ladies and gentlemen, kindly take your seats we are about to start. Heheh! the Kenyan in me wants, sorry, must put the face to the voice. Its the same Kenyan genes that runs towards an accident instead of away from. So, like a typical Kenyan brought up around and about the maize plantations of the Rift Valley and blessed with a height challenge, I shamelessly struggle to stand on my toes and even use the table for support in an endeavour to see who was that commanding us. Well, and that's when I saw her walking in. Everything was working for her. Her illegitimate weave perched on her dry skull fell almost perfectly on her shoulders. Her smile was absorbing. Nearly charming. Her sequined dress complimented her workshop shoes but somewhat ridiculed her handbag. She walked with a swag borrowed from Scandals Season 4. She was what men tucked in a dingy tavern drinking discounted 'happy hour' alcohol and self-praising about their side dishes and Japan imported juggernauts will call hot and sexy. And who could blame them? In any case, in this part of the Sub-Saharan hemisphere, she probably would be the closest they would ever get to the Kardashians. She had this nice, long flowery legs that will make a man going through middle life crisis to sell his ancestral land and ship her ass and multiple monstrous weaves to the Seychelles for the weekend. Her African skin was smooth like a well-ironed nylon dress. She gave the appearance of a high value, high maintenance, well-read, well-travelled, well-exposed, intelligent damsel. In fact, suffice for me to add she looked like one of those I-got-my-own independent women, who probably invented sunscreen or lipstick in some poorly lit laboratory back in her wild campus days. She looked like a pretty thing that devours for breakfast pages of a technical book about empowerment of African women. As you can objectively see, everything was working for her. Well, everything - until she opened her cute mouth to speak. The richness, quality and diversity in her ignorance slapped everyone in the room like a bad omen. Initially, I had entertained the un-married thought of chit-chatting with her after the workshop. Maybe if I am lucky, take a selfie with her as I whisper a few naughty luhya proverbs in her ears . Obviously in the selfie, her hand will be on my shoulders, or why not, my waist. And since she can't get enough of my warm personality and luhya-ness, she will slap my phone with her number. I will promise to call her as soon as it takes a village cock to enjoy its conjugal rights. Unfortunately, all that un-married thoughts disappeared as soon as she began talking. Don't get me wrong though. I had no problem with her constitutional right of freedom of speech. My problem was her audacity to sunbath her ignorance in public. I left that workshop later in the day disturbed by the fact that most of us don't take time and effort to invest in knowledge and information. We simply live like zombies, talking, shouting, reasoning and operating on whimps, emotions and hearsay. We don't take time to research, study and acquire information, facts and figures. As a result, we walk around smartly dressed but with no substance between our ears. We go for meetings, job interviews, hell ya even on dates, proudly unprepared and happily ignorant. For most of us, the last book we ever read was the last time we were sitting for an exam. We have been conditioned to only read for exams. We are allergic to books. No wonder we have more bars and brothels than bookshops. I am tired of meeting beautiful ladies who are looking for a well-educated, successful man but they can't hold a mature conversation for more than three seconds, before they revert back to Keeping Up with the Kardashians, soap operas and types of weaves. I am tired of meeting men wearing well-cut suits with polished nails and an expensive attitude stuffed inside their six-packs, but can't talk anything beyond the English Premier League and their sexual escapades. We speak too much. Listen less. Read nothing, except those bipartisan, tribalistic gutter press designed to rave up our ethnic emotions and political affiliations for sale and profit margins. I challenge you today to interrogate your source of information and knowledge. I challenge you to interrogate their intentions and objectives. Knowledge and information isn't acquired by osmosis. Great and successful people in life take time to acquire and invest in knowledge. They always talk from a point of knowledge and clear understanding of issues, not emotions and rumours. And like our damsel above, lets not suffer from the course of beauty without brains. Study things. Seek to understand stuff. Be knowledgeable. Get exposed. Travel. Ask questions. Interrogate things and people. Seek to know. So that you speak from the point of knowledge and understanding. And by the way, if you have nothing to say or don't understand an issue well, for the love of John the Baptist - please shut your mouth. Don't simply speak because you have a mouth. If you can't improve the quality of silence, shut up. Even Proverbs 21:23 (NLT) says, watch your tongue and KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT, and you will stay out of trouble. Wisdom is the principal thing, and in all your getting, get understanding, Proverbs 4:7 expressingly puts it. While without mincing words, Proverbs 15:14 (NLT) says a wise person is hungry for knowledge while the fool feeds on trash. WOW! Simply put, a wise person is always eager to learn and be enriched with information, while a fool is busy feeding on gossips, rumours and ignorance. No wonder Hosea 4:6 says my people perish for lack of knowledge. What are you feeding your mind on? Image Credit: Ghanacelebrities.com