Monday, August 18, 2008

Being The Best I Can Be - A Guide To All Around Excellence

There is one thing that stands between your current position and your destination; it’s the “how” obstacle. You have to find answers to such pressing questions as, “how do I get there?”, “how do I make the right choices that will lead me to an expected end?” An expected end is that point in which a person dies regretless. It is a period in which a person can truly and honestly claim to have done all that they could with all they have been given by God (gifts, talents and opportunities). How do we get there? I recommend following these few steps;
· God first
· Don’t take their word for it
· Just do it – The planner vs. the doer
· Know thyself
· Befriend the best to be the best – A community of excellence
· Improve thyself – Learn, learn and learn some more
· Contentious Contentment – The American dream
We’ll start with Step 1 in this edition:

A friend of mine for whom I have the utmost respect often spoke of God telling him what shirt to wear, what time to eat, etc. While I admired him for his close relationship with God, I did not try to emulate him because I was very comfortable with the way God spoke to me. For me, I made the decisions on my everyday tasks on my own while using God’s word as a guideline. For instance, I know that God expects us to adopt the virtue of moderation in all that we do. So, I may decide to eat barbeque chicken and rice but I try not to eat too much.

The concept of being all one can be affects every facet of our lives. A person striving to be all he can be should make efforts to be the best student he can be, the best church worker he can be, the best friend he can be, and so on. While all of these aspects of our lives are important, I will focus on educational and career excellence.

Educational Excellence
If you are like my friend who waits on and hears the voice of God to instruct him on what shirt to wear on a particular day, I congratulate and admire you. If you are not, don’t feel bad, God gave us free will. This free-will is what we must use to make decisions such as what University to attend, what to study in the University and so on.

When using free will as a decision-making tool, it is crucial to make sure that God’s word, which is one of the many ways He speaks to us, is our guide. When I was a teenager and it was time to decide what University to attend outside of Nigeria, I was faced with numerous decisions to make. I had to decide between going to the United Kingdom or the United States (notice how I like the places that are United?). For some, the choices would be much longer. I hear now that people are going to Hungary, Romania, even to Iceland. I admire their fortitude but I only wanted to go to a place where I spoke the language.

I had to decide between going to a place where I had many aunts and uncles (the UK) or a place where a few close friends had already gone (the US). I also decided that I wanted to attend a University with explicit Christian affiliation. I informed my counselor at the United States Information Service (a Lagos based US agency that provides guidance to people who want to study in the US) of my criteria and we got the University search process going.

You see, there are more than 3000 Universities in the United States and most of them are accredited. Given this overwhelmingly large number, it is important to have a few criteria at the beginning of the search in order to be able to weed out the undesirables. My own criteria were; a private Christian University in a quiet town where I could study something engineering related and so on (It has been so long ago that I don’t remember exactly what I said).

I did not know that I was about to attend a school that would not allow me achieve my goals, where most graduates were unable to get jobs (yes, those exist in the US too). It was a school that was only Christian in the fact that there were rules against unwholesome behavior; rules that no one obeyed. I ended up completing my bachelor’s degree at a different school.

I had some bad experiences in that small town but I also met some great friends; good Christians from other parts of the world with whom I connected spiritually. I would have said God took me to that school so that I would meet great people but I think an even more important reason for me to have acquired such experience is so that I can share with you and perhaps help you prevent similar mistakes when you are at your own cross-roads.

If I were one of those people to whom God speaks about what shirt to wear, He may or may not have told me to go somewhere else from the beginning. There is no way to guess what God would have said. However, since I made the decision to be comfortable being what I have cleverly named a biblically guided free willing Christian, there were steps I should have taken that would have guaranteed that I attended the best school possible. These steps (as stated in the second paragraph) are going to be revealed in subsequent installments of “Being the best I can be.”

*Ayo Sopitan

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