I returned to Lagos to rehabilitate myself soon after the devastating Nigeria-Biafra civil war ended in January 1970. The first employment I got was with Toki Nigeria Ltd, which had several pharmacies in the Lagos area. The owner, Chief A. O. Akoni, studied in the UK and worked with The Boots Pure Drugs which had a chain of pharmacies. Application of his Boots’ experience locally made him to be the first pharmacist to establish a chain of pharmacies in Nigeria.
I managed his headquarters pharmacy at Ajele, in the heart of Lagos Island, and later a branch at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island. After working for him for many months, I got another job in a manufacturing company based in Ikeja. Despite my exit from his company, Chief Akoni and I continued to meet at occasional pharmaceutical functions. He was always excited to introduce me to other colleagues as the only pharmacist who did not steal from his pharmacy.
The first time he introduced me as such, I was very surprised because I did not know that he had such a high opinion of me. That commendation encouraged me to maintain a high level of integrity everywhere I worked or called to serve.
Being faithful to your employer is a necessity for workers in all situations, whether private or public sector. 1 Corinthians 4:2 says, “Moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” There are many unfaithful workers today and they suffer the repercussions in later life. Many workers steal their employers’ money, materials, time and other resources. Some establish parallel businesses and divert their employers’ customers. Some spend most of their time running their private businesses.
Some years ago, the accountant of Pharmanews Ltd, with the collusion of other company staff, diverted our company cheques to one of the accomplices’ account in a Microfinance bank based in Ikorodu. The accomplice at the Microfinance bank got his own share of the ill-gotten money. The end of such deceitfulness is often shame and regret. Jeremiah 17:11 warns, “As the partridge sits on eggs, and hatches them not; so is he that gets riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the middle of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.”
In the attempt to get rich quick, many people have compromised and hardened their consciences. Incredibly and unfortunately, most of them are Christians who flock churches on Sundays and also participate in Bible study, fasting and prayer and vigils on week days. But their business life does not reflect the life of a believer. They are no longer the salt of the earth or light of the world.
It is a great opportunity to work for others, acquire experience, and develop yourself, using the talents, gifts and abilities God has given to you to serve Him. To many, it is both a training period and a trial period. As Luke 16:12 asks, “And if you have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?” This makes it clear that hardworking, loyal and faithful workers earn God’s blessing.
God is interested in your secular work because you are applying the resources He has given you into that work. Your life, time, talents, gifts, intellect, hands and the entire body belong to God. And He does not waste resources. Instead, He wants you to use the resources to serve and glorify Him. If you do otherwise, then you should expect the same judgement that befell the unprofitable servant in Matthew 25:14-30. For burying the single talent he was given, he was severely reprimanded and his talent recovered from him and given to the one who traded profitably with his five talents. Not only that, he was also cast into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of the teeth.
I don’t know whether this parable terrifies you as it does me. That is why you should make an inventory of God’s resources available to you and endeavour to utilise them optimally and maximally.
One main reason why some people are not committed to their work or do it half-heartedly or deceitfully is their failure to know that they are serving God and not their employer. To their thinking, they serve God in church and during religious activities, while they serve man in so-called secular work. In other words, the same persons live two lives – one life on Sundays and the other life from Mondays to Saturdays.
This is a great error. In Colossians 3:23, Paul makes it clear that we are serving God, not only on Sundays but in our daily work. Appealing to servants who were bought to serve their masters, he said, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ” (NLT).