The Gift of Work

The Myth of Retirement. Part III

Usually when facing a job interview panel, one of the questions you must prepare for is ‘Why would you like this job?’ Or it’s variant, ‘Why do you think you are the best candidate for this job?’ As the applicant you then draw from your experience, your competencies and your networks, to convince the panel that you can get the job done. Sometimes you get it right, other times you don’t.

God has placed within each one of us a unique purpose. This purpose is crafted into your DNA, woven into your genes before you knew you, before your mother knew you. You will remain insatiable until you find the work that God designed you for.

When God formed Adam from the dust and pulled Eve out of him, he gave him work. Adam’s work was to tend the Garden of Eden as part of fulfilling the Creation Mandate.

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

The Creation Mandate, Genesis 1:27-28

Adam and Eve were never meant to live happily ever after in the Garden of Eden. Neither were you created to live in whatever variation of the Garden you imagine. You have been blessed with work so you can be a blessing to the world through your fruitfulness, multiplication and power to subdue. This is latent energy in you.

Since you are made in the likeness of God, your capabilities are immense. Forget your classification as a mammal, your ancestor Adam named all the mammals plus more animals besides. (Genesis 2:19-20). His sons designed the practices of agriculture. Abel without being taught by any priest brought the fat portions of the first born of his flock as a sacrifice to God. (Genesis 4:4). And on and on, till we get to you. Do you feel underwhelmed by the job interview panel yet? No?

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

I Corinthians 15:10 NKJV

Paul explains that he was able to labor more abundantly because of the grace of God. Labor is a synonym of work. Grace is unmerited favor. Unmerited means you don’t work for it. Yes. So how then can the grace of God lead to laboring more abundantly?

Man was created on the 6th day, the last day of creation. It meant that Adam’s first day of work was the Sabbath day. Wait, what? Yes, so on his first day at work, Adam was chilling with God. Compare that with your first day. The familiarization tour. The endless introductions. The numerous forms, IDs, passwords, thumb or retina scans. The new acronyms. The policy documents. Adam had none of that, he learned to work from rest. Rest with God. Rest in God. Unmerited. Who earns a day off on the first day? You, God’s favorite, do.

Dr. Eunice Adubango, shares a story about how she started Eunie’s kitchen. Her dad, she says, dotted on her and made sure that she lacked no good thing. He never let her use her airtime to call him. He bought her newspapers every day so she could ace what was not even a major course module for her, communication. When he fell sick, she found that the job she had could not cater for his bills. She could not sit helpless and watch him not get the care he deserved. So she decided to run a paid cookery lesson for ladies. Her social media post attracted many respondents and she was able to carry out the lesson. From her earnings, she was able to give her father access to good health care.

Her starting out was a response to the love her father had lavished on her. Many of us may relate to the desparation of an ill parent, and many times we view the desparation as our driving force. The driving force behind the actions is love. So if we can labor, drawing from love wells of our earthly fathers how much more the love of our Heavenly Father.

That’s why Paul says he labored much more abundantly by the grace of God. The Grace of God empowers and compels us to work. God’s love working in our lives leads us to do immeasurably more than we ever imagined or thought. (Ephesians 3:20) This is the gift of Work.

Never Enough

The Myth of Retirement. Part II

‘You need to save for your retirement,’ became the clarion call for all of us to move to the start of the rat race! The statement by itself maybe right but all information is filtered through the lenses of society and experience.

I finally got round to watching The Greatest Showman and observing the P.T. Barnum, it was like looking into a mirror. He finally lands the deal of a lifetime,Jenny Lind. You know that deal that we are all praying and looking for. The one that will propel us further up the societal curve and land us closer to retirement. The context of retirement in this case is included in an earlier blog. So, he lands this deal, in the form of a tour. And off he goes, he leaves his circus, his family, his wealth and pursues the deal with all his heart, nothing shall stop him.

Your salary is never enough to give you, the retirement you want: the pina colada sipping by the beach- kind, the golf playing by the ocean- kind, the house on acres of land- kind. Armed with this knowledge, we became deal (a.k.a some ka money chasers), what was trending? Could it be sold for profit? What kind of margins would it bring me? If they were good, they were added to the job. In addition to my employment business card, I added another and another and another. If there was money 💰 clinking into the pocket, it meant it was working. Not so?

Well, not quite. The insurance sales man, all dressed to kill, walks in and teaches us a new thing, it’s called life insurance. The compounding effect is unbelievable. Yes, we must do this! What does it entail? More money! So back to the drawing board, how much longer must I work to achieve this? How much more money must I squeeze out of these margins? That’s when, the walls came crumbling down, all these clinks in the back were not money. They were chocolate covered stones. At least there is chocolate, let’s continue!

Back to the rat race! But it was never enough. Doors continually opened. Doors continually closed. Time remained finite even when I dared to defy it. The sun set at the same time and rose at the same time. Every morning carried a work load from the previous day and the day before that and the day before that. Yet, still, each day came with it’s own work load, ‘a woman’s work is never done,’ I quipped and carried on.

Lying on that hard hospital bed, with a canula attached and the whole clinic looking for what was wrong? I slowly came to the realization that this would never work. Either I was going to die trying or simply die. From where I lay, there were no pina coladas, no golf courses, no home baked goodies, just endless white ceiling.

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
John 17:3 NKJV

Eternal means never ending. If I have eternal life, I have never ending life. It means that if my life is never ending, I need to live it better. I need to make better choices. It gets better.

Jesus Christ continues to say that life is about knowing God, the only true God and knowing Jesus Christ. Knowing, like knowing knowing? Or knowing like knowing? 😂😂

Thank God for the Greek word, ginóskó that is more definitive. To know experientially, first hand. Like the intimate knowledge of a husband and a wife. Wow.

Repeat it again.

So you mean that eternal life is not living forever and ever. It is, because God is eternal. Knowing God will take you through to eternity.

When Mary, the sister of Martha met Jesus, she decided that her singular purpose in life would be to sit at the feet of Jesus. Her sister, Martha even complained to Jesus about her workload and Mary not lifting even a finger to help, Mary did not bat an eyelid. Being seated is a position of rest, she rested. She found such delight in knowing Jesus that she was the only one privileged to prepare his body for death. Her very expensive perfume (worth an entire year’s wages) was nothing compared to the joy she found using the perfume to anoint his feet and body. This same Mary was the first person to meet the risen Jesus. Jesus Is Enough.

And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:41‭-‬42 NKJV

A tale of how salary conspired against me.

It all began a long time ago; once a upon a December, I received a call asking me to pick my appointment letter. My parents were very excited, I was working, finally! My linear progression scale also agreed- kindergarten- check, primary school-check, O’level-check, A’level-check, bachelor’s degree-check. All checked. I picked my letter with a litany of requirements, one of them was opening a bank account. My dad wrote my reference to his bankers and it should have been easy, only this was a long time ago. I needed to explain why I wanted to open the account and what the purpose of the account was. And so began the games that salary would play with me. Each account had charges, minimum bank balances and an insy, winsy bit of interest. I selected the one that only required one letter of reference, it had no interest and required an immediate deposit for it to be opened. I was already indebted to myself, or was it the bank, before I even started working. Never forget salary.

Do not wait till your first job, start saving on all monies you receive.

Moral. ⚠

The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.
Proverbs 22:7 NKJV

And with that sorted, we started work. Salary was sometimes late, sometimes early, sometimes just on time. Salary and time were clearly having issues. I decided to work with time, because well, time was more predictable. Salary’s mood swings were legendary, every one complained about her, whenever we were with time. Which was always.

Your most constant resource is time. If you manage your time well, money shall follow.

Moral ⚠

So be very careful how you live, not being like those with no understanding, but live honorably with true wisdom, for we are living in evil times. Take full advantage of every day as you spend your life for his purposes.
Ephesians 5:15‭-‬16 TPT

It was not long before I was introduced to advance. The office grape vine always has a vine dedicated to options that are available to maintain your current and dream lifestyle. So advance, had limits and could be contained within your salary for one month. Well, that did not sound too bad. Let us try this advance. And advance😀 was always on time. Advance was always in a good mood, it was easier than accounts opening. You even received a phone call when advance was paid. Wow. Advance became my new best friend, goodbye salary! But Advance was jealous, very jealous. I had so many conversations about my relationship with salary, and told advance it was nothing personal but I owed salary alot in life. Well, that did not go down well, advance started to sabotage my dreams. The more, I pursued advance, the less I had to spend on my lifestyle. Salary was constantly complaining because the bills were piling up and we could not keep up.

Advance is debt. Stay away from advance on your salary. Choose contentment.

Moral ⚠

Those who love pleasure become poor; those who love wine and luxury will never be rich.
Proverbs 21:17 NLT

With the ‘millennium bug’, came new innovations. The first one being a salary account, all one needed was a letter of reference ans, voila you had an account. It had no minimum balance and minimal charges on withdrawal. Little did we know, this was a setup.

Not all that glitters is gold. Read the fine print. Read the times.

Word to the wise ⚠

The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.
Proverbs 21:5 NKJV

In they came, trip trapping on our bridges, unmoved by our troll nature. They walked in, all suave and kempt, high heeled and polished. They spoke English English, a bit accented and their words rolled off their tongues like it was their mother tongue. Once in a while, they switched to their mother tongue, fluidity just. The latest crop of banking relationship managers ushered in by the ‘millennium bug’ and the Great Recession aka the Crash of 2008. They sold us salary loans. If you had a salary account, it was easy peasy. Sign here, sign here, and voila, within four days, you could be a millionaire! If you did not, it might take slightly longer, more signatures, but you too could join the club. ✒️? So it was, that within a few months, we were all millionaires. It took us a few years to catch on that interest rate, the one in tiny letters that you could not read, was not our friend. By then, most of us were so indebted, even advance would not pick our calls. We had mortgaged our future. And we still had to live in it.

Salary loans are an overdrawn future. Walk away from debt.

Moral ⚠

A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks; a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered.
Proverbs 22:3 MSG

Promotion and an adjusted salary structure brought great reprieve. The same relationship manager who once ruthlessly sold loans to beat targets advised to defer gratification and save over time to achieve my goals. He gave the illustration of the cumulative effect of saving over the same period vis a vis paying off a loan. And without the interest component, wow. It looked doable. I could also wait, even with inflation, the cost was so much lower. That’s how I started saving.

Never spend your money before you have it

Thomas Jefferson ⚠

The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.
Proverbs 21:20 NLT

So there is this series being run by Worship Harvest Ministries, catch it here if you have not yet watched it.

TGIF

I hated Mondays, dreaded Mondays. There was just something about Mondays that was dreary- the jam was too heavy, the tea was cold, and the alarm never ever sounded when it should have-I always arrived in office in a huff! Thursdays were always brilliant days, it was the day before Friday- such a lovely day, Friday. I got to do the things I loved after Friday- that is until I met a group of people who lived for Mondays.

Joining the work force, my script read ‘I hate Mondays,’ it even came with a t-shirt. My role was to carry a scowl on Monday that would slowly transform into a brilliant smile by Friday. I was born for this role. I loved it.

Some where in the vague memory of my kindergarten years, even in my foggiest part, this song will play. I sang it and performed it for my parents, gleefully with all the actions. Ad nauseum.

Slave, Slave in America

Working day-,day and night,

Planting sugar-,sugar and tea,

When I was in America.

Later, in life, I wonder why we sang this song at all and its sum total value, but I was way past my formative years and it was clear, there would be no America for me.

Even though America was deleted as an option for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,- working day and night became equal to slavery. The pursuit of happiness was what my 8-5 work week was, I went through the drudgery of work to enjoy by blissful weekends.

THANK GOD IT’S FRIDAY!

That is until I met a group of people who loved Mondays. These people were high on something, all excited and uppity on a Monday. They had big plans for the week and high hopes. They were go-getters. My bosses who always saw things in me that I didn’t, placed me in this team.

Oh my, it was harrowing at first. At first, and then it got a bit exciting. Just a bit.

The team leader had a right fit mentality, she placed people where they fit best for team and for their competencies. She was quick to catch on my love for data and systems, the last person had gone on leave. I was immediately placed in her role. Big shoes to fill because this was the year BC, Before Computers. Everything was calculated manually first and then you lined up for the few computers. Did I mention that this team loved their work? Getting to a computer was a hustle, however, I had a window of opportunity, each time they went to the field, I had the computer to myself. Life was good.

Not only did these guys love Mondays, they loved Fridays. The goal was to have all reports in by midday, Friday. Friday afternoons in office were ghostly, yes, with skeleton staff. These guys partied hard. My kinda people. So we worked hard and we partied hard, Monday morning, we all appeared fresh and pimped for the week. If you are looking for the leaves we were chewing, check out @living la vida loca.

As a testimony to Newton’s 3rd law of motion, the party extended across borders. I would board Akamba for Nairobi on Friday and be back, Sunday evening. For all the energy I was expending at work, I needed an equivalent amount or even more happiness to replenish it. Nairobi, it was.

TGIF reloaded.

True to Ricky Martin’s lyrics, she wore me out. You cannot keep those wheels on the bus running, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. This was slave, slave, slave all over again. I gave Ricky Martin back his leaves, lyrics and t-shirt. I picked up Kenny Roger’s The Gambler, I knew when to walk away.

There is a series running at Worship Harvest called #somekamoney. Check it out here,no more slave, slave, slave.

Working the works of God

Jesus was speaking to some Jews, according to John, who asked Him this question that always struck me as strange, odd even. It always seemed so out of context. I thought well, Jesus, who is graciousness personified, was being gracious to the askers. What did they mean by working the works of God?

Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, ” This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

John 6:28-29 NKJV

So there is this series at Worship Harvest #SomeKaMoney, started this August 2020. If you have not listened to it, you can start right here.

Sunday morning, keenly paying attention to the sermon and boom! It hits me that to the Jews, work was their way of extending the kingdom of God. It is why they ask Jesus after he has miraculously fed them, all five thousand of them, how they can work it? Their response to the miraculous was wonder and desire to replicate.

One of my history classes had very inquisitive minds. They did not accept regular answers and always asked why? The lessons were filled with so many seemingly unconnected whys. I decided rather than waste this opportunity, let us delve into the theory of evolution. At which point, of course, with the many whys, they became the several theories of evolution. In order to prepare for the lesson, I also had to really delve so as to sufficiently answer each child’s questions. I read about Darwin’s expedition to the Galapagos islands and his journal entries and drawings of the finches. Suddenly, my world was filled with wonder at the magnificence and greatness and forethought of God.

These finches were spoken into being, (Genesis 1:20-23) on the fifth day. Not only were they distinguished from eagles, parrots, hens and humming birds by the Word of God. They carried within themselves, the ability to adapt and survive in their different environments. Darwin spent five years observing them, it must have been such a wondrous thing to behold. His observation led him to write his paper, The Origin of Species, which to date has caused quite a stir.

Source: Pinterest

In both instances, Darwin’s and the Jews, the wonder of creation created a desire that got them working. It created a passion that caused them to create. Why then do we separate, our wonder from our work? It is not possible. All work begins with wonder, the possibility of greatness. The possibility of bringing happiness to a soul.

Have you paused to think about why you work? Well Genesis 1, tells us that God paused at the end of each day and saw that His work was good. Is it any wonder then that Peter says of Jesus ‘he went about doing good..’ while speaking at the house of Cornelius. (Acts 10:38). Paul writing to the Ephesians exhorts them and us to remember that we are ‘created in Christ Jesus to do good works’. Paul also writing to the Philippians encourages them that ‘it is God who works in you both to will and to do. God worked because He is good and loves to do good.

Why do you work? And why should you work? Work is our response to the greatness of God. Like the heavens, David writes about, declare the glory of God. (Psalm 19:1). Our work declares the glory of God.