Shortly before his death in 1910, Mark Twain, the celebrated author and humourist, said, “A myriad of men are born; they labour and sweat and struggle; they squabble and scold and fight; they scramble for little mean advantages over each other; age creeps upon them; infirmities follow; those they love are taken from them, and the joy of life is turned to aching grief. Death comes at last – the only unpoisoned gift earth ever had for them – and they vanish from a world where they were of no consequence, a world which will lament them a day and forget them forever.”
Twain’s assertion may seem somewhat tragic to some of us, but it is actually a true reflection of what happens in our world daily. Many individuals, who could have been great accomplishers and heralds of breakthroughs in their communities, die as failures and underachievers and are buried with their truncated destinies.
For us not to be part of these grim statistics, it is necessary that we constantly reflect on the essence of our existence on earth. Certainly, neither dormancy nor complacency is a part of this essence. God’s purpose for man from the time of creation is to grow, expand, increase, multiply, develop and dominate. This is clearly spelt out in Genesis 1:28:”And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion…”
I don’t consider this a mere counsel, suggestion or request. I believe it is an instruction, a definite command, which makes it a binding obligation. It behoves us therefore to permanently engrave this important mandate on our minds and constantly seek to accomplish it in all the spheres of our lives. Success, growth and expansion are non-negotiable requirements of our daily existence; as such, there must not be room or excuse for failure, defeat, unproductivity stagnancy or mediocrity.
The beautiful thing about the divine mandate we have received is that adequate provision has been made for us to successfully fulfil it. This is characteristic of God. He never employs without equipping. Even at the time of creation, He ensured that every other thing had been made before He made man. The message for us is clear. For anyone seriously willing to discover his calling, maximise his potentials and fulfil his destiny, adequate provision has been made for him to do so exceptionally.
You may be wondering: how does one measure a successful life? A successful life is one that has creditably performed, with his talents, abilities and gifts, the tasks assigned to him by God. I cannot imagine how many tasks there are to be carried out in this generation. But one thing is sure: there are as many talents as there are tasks to be performed.
Just, for a moment, think of what people are doing at any one time. Right now, some pilots are taking thousands of people in aeroplanes from one location to the other. Some surgeons are busy on their patients in the operating theatre; some of my pharmacist colleagues are in the factory, trying to manufacture medicines with minimum of adverse or side effects. Also, at this moment, some people are drilling crude oil, while some are manufacturing high-tech equipment and computers. The lesson is that there is an infinite number of gifts and talents for all men and women created by God. There is a purpose and room for everyone in God’s hatchery of achievers. This realisation is not only meant to spur us into taking our rightful places in God’s programme for the entire human race but to also make us see the pointlessness of envying and competing with each other.
In John 15:1-2, Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman…every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” It makes God happy to see us making good use of the talents He has given to us. It stirs Him to bless us the more and we find remarkable joy in His seal of approval upon our lives. I gave one person one of my books sometime ago and when we met again, she told me that she gained a lot from the book. I was very happy that my gift was useful to her. I was even happier when she asked for another book.
One secret of effective use of your talents and maximising your potential is continuous and never-ending improvement in whatever you do. Don’t rest on your oars. Realise that whatever you do is for a time. Life itself is short. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”
Lastly, know that you cannot grow or expand without a measure of confidence in yourself and absolute trust in God who gives all good things.