AGEISM – THE NUANCES OF IT!

In the television series The Crown there is a heartbreaking moment when the recently widowed Queen Mother of the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth remarks at being sidelined when she actually needs to be active in order to help her cope up with her loss. Her lament is a telling reflection of the many who go through the throes and woes of retirement.

Psychology Today has reported in 2009 that an aging brain is a creative brain, so much so it was suggested that instead of retiring people at age 65, we should be transitioning them into more creative jobs. Research also shows that the most valuable patent applications are more likely to come from inventors typically over age 55 and the age of Nobel winners are getting higher every year. Another study shows that inventors don’t actually peak until their late 40s and become more productive over the last half of their careers.

WHO defines Ageism as referring to the stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) towards others or oneself based on age. Ageism is everywhere: from institutions and relationships to ourselves. Ageism affects everyone, intersecting and exacerbating other forms of disadvantage such as those related to sex, race and disability.

Ageism can change how we view ourselves, erode solidarity between generations, devalue or limit our ability to benefit from what people can contribute, impact our health, longevity and well-being and have far-reaching economic effects and consequences. Ageism is real and a degrading social malady that affects retirees and those above 60 years, more than any other section of society.

Overlooking the plight of retirees is real and minimizing or neglecting their role in society past their superannuation not addressed at all. The Bible illustrates the role played by elders, insisting upon the value of older people in imparting guidance and counsel. God’s word designating them as sages and elders, insists upon their ability to create stability and provide clear solutions to issues. Nations, peoples, cultures, societies, families all flounder and fail when they ignore the experience and wisdom of those who are in the later stages of life.

A case in point is the story of King Rehoboam, who inherited a thriving and prosperous kingdom, the legacy of his father, the great King, Solomon the Wise. When an emergency petition was placed before him by a national delegation immediately after his coronation, he chose to listen to the unwise input of his cronies rather than giving ear to the diplomatic advice of the experienced elders of the land. Due to this, 80% of his people elected to follow a new ruler, another kingdom was formed and his territory was reduced to the remaining 20%. All the glory and wealth he inherited was handed over to another because of his unwillingness to honor age and promote their working.

Every culture and nation has stories and legends that describe and point out the importance of those who are old in the fabric of society. It is sad that the world of today ignores and sets aside those above 60 years. In the time of life when they are best equipped to impact, they are classified as seniors and therefore, redundant. At an age when they have the emotional and mental resources as well as the time to serve the best, they are pushed to the curb, to wistfully stand watch. Most of them, like unused grain that rots away, endure their exile and fade away into oblivion, leaving behind a society that has no idea of its loss.

A wonderful remedy to this problem is showcased in the movie The Intern. It follows the impact created by a retiree who is part of a group of seniors recruited to work as interns by a growing online fashion firm as part of their corporate social responsibility. The employees of the company, all young and under the retirement age, look with amusement at these interns, wondering what these oldies would be able to contribute, especially since most them aren’t tech savvy.

The Founder and CEO of the company, a woman in her twenties, at first considers the one assigned to her as a liability, but slowly begins to see his worth as he uses his wisdom, experience and equanimity of temper to constantly help her in different ways. He becomes a trusted friend and confidant, able to share in her work and aid her in her deepest concerns, guiding her with his sagacity when she is at a crucial crossroads in her life.

In countries such as in India where employment opportunities for the young must take precedence over the need of seniors, alternate tasks such as financial training, personal one-on-one counselling, marital dispute resolution, simple home care etc can be envisioned by firms as roles for retirees.

How wonderful it would be to see such partnerships develop in real and not just in reel life!

*https://www.who.int/westernpacific/news/q-a-detail/ageing-ageism

*pics courtesy unspash.com, shutterstock and google images.

CHOOSING YOUR SECOND LINE

The success of a leader, an operation, a party, a company, a work depends on its sustainability for and over a long period of time.

I recently came across the story of a food place that had been in action and serving their signature dish with the same quality, for over three generations. The technicality and know-how had been handed down with care, each generation being groomed to take over, improving the peripherals but not the core content of the dish or its recipe or method of cooking. So, even today, long queues stretch at their door, with people patiently waiting to collect their orders!

Recent elections show the need and importance of having or grooming the next line of leaders so as to ensure a smooth transfer of power. Success indeed needs successors for it to be true and long lasting. One of the primary tasks of leadership and management is to identify and train the next order so they are ready to take over in case of eventuality or eventually. Once the work or party company has gone through teething troubles and opposition and it becomes established, what should be the prime obsession and occupation of the leadership at any level is the stance of being on thea lookout for the one or ones they needed to train so as to impart and carry on. Unfortunately, most leaders are preoccupied with safeguarding and securing their positions rather than seeking, identifying and training their successors.

Nowhere is this lack felt more than in the christian churches and ministry circles. Church leaders, ministry heads and NGO directors hold close to their chest their posts and portfolios, refusing to recognize and share their experience as well as their expertise with the next line of potentials. They not only do this, but also refuse to prepare for the day they would have to physically move on, be it age or otherwise!

This is doubly sad because the Bible is full of principles and examples that emphasize and reiterate as well teach this getting ready a successor as a prime need and task to be ingrained into the very fabric of God’s administration and authority plans. God is the God of generations and works, not on a short-term basis, but over a long period or passage of time. He is all about soundly and solidly rooting any venture or project and seeing it handed down or carried over by successors. No wonder Charles Wesley declared: God buries His workmen but carries on His work!

While it is needed to raise next line of leadership, it is also important to note that unwise or indiscriminate choices of candidates or unsuitable people will lead to potential disaster or damage, often undermining or undoing the very work you want or need to establish. Every monarchy in the world will testify to this, that faithless and fickle crown princes or inheritors can demolish the work of their predecessors. Knowing how to assess and identify the DNA of your successor is of great importance.

Most often than not, leaders are strapped to know how to choose or select their protégées and this lack of knowledge is often the key to their unwillingness or failure to let go. They often genuinely and rightly fear to release into the hands of others the work or service they have slogged over or paid the price to form and establish. Taking our cue from the Bible, we can identify hints and clues which would help us in choosing who to invest our lives in!

1. Be observant and alert from day one, keeping watch over your people and observe the nuances of their working. Grooming takes time and so you need to seek early on to zoom in on the one who can follow you in your work. Keep watch and catch them unawares doing the unexpected, when no one is watching or without any fanfare!

2. Learn to be intuitive and instinctive rather than working by a list of rules. It is not that you should not have a set of expectations, but allowing it to blind you to the right one who can upgrade what you leave behind is a downer. You may miss the person because you think he is missing the mark!

3. Look beyond the exterior to the core of the person. People often mask their true self in order to gain acceptance in the crowd or for fear of being an outcast. Often a diamond is hidden as an ordinary stone, until someone takes time and effort on making it faceted so that it shines truly. Don’t miss a gem because you weren’t savvy enough to see beyond and behind the camouflage!

3. Avoid pettiness and smallness Don’t allow prejudice to cloud your judgement. Learn to look beyond personality clashes to sense the real worth of the person. Chances are that the one who has guts and gall to challenge you will be strong enough to implement in the future the innovation and evolution you drew up plans and provided for!

4. Don’t be afraid to invest in a few rather than just one. That way, even if the one you thought would be your successor moves on for some reason, you already have your eyes on the next to fill the gap!

5. Investigate and explore your candidate. Don’t be scared to probe into the person’s history. Sit down and talk to him or her and hear their story. Pick up the nuances of their character and their personal orientation. Take time to check them out and see if their immediate supervisors or neighbors can give a good report about them. Select such ones whom you have whetted fully and thoroughly!

6. Don’t be in a hurry to decide or come to conclusions. Take time to think over and discuss with others your choices. Involve others in the choice and let things slowly and surely fall into place. Train them and work on shortcomings while encouraging their strengths. Make space to prove them well before entrusting!

7. Set an example and ask them to follow. If you are not a role model, you cannot train nor command respect. In the areas where you are weak, they can be apprenticed to others who can bolster them up!

8. Build a relationship with such people whom you can designate as your inheritors and protégés. Be real with them and train them to be real. Impart and share your best for them to be the best. Begin involving them in decision-making and respect their ideas. Mentor and teach them the right way, taking care to protect them if they need it. Don’t show favoritism towards them, but let them know that they have a godfather in you!

9. Don’t hesitate to swing the sword. Be close enough to put an arm around the shoulder but far enough to be able to use the rod of correction. Demand and expect more from the one you are training than someone else of the same cadre who may not be the one you choose to follow you. Do not make allowances for their mistakes for they are your successors. Do not pamper them for they are being primed up to take your place!

10. When time is right, begin entrusting. Don’t keep them dangling in the air or keep them second guessing. Give them freedom to decide where they want to be and send them with your blessing. Don’t keep them in tenterhooks, not knowing what to do or unable to move on or stay put. Your second liners are not secondhand people, but your legacy.  Applaud and encourage when they do right, reprimand and show the right way when they fail. Give them your trust and they will measure up!

Producing second line leadership is hard and time consuming, but you dare not be without doing it. God has not left us clueless, but has through His word given us solid principles and natural illustrations for training of the second line or next generation of leaders. World histories as well as legends placed in a milieu of cultures and societies showcase the pattern and module for training. It only needs us to give our time and effort to the task.

The need of the hour are crown princes and princesses who can carry on our legacy.

Your secondliners will also be your defense and strong supporters in times of need. They carry your imprint on them and so be careful what you leave behind.

Choose wisely and mold without insecurity or sense of competition at their competency.

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com, shutterstock and Google images

METAMORPHOSIS – IS YOURS INTENTIONAL OR INCIDENTAL!

During one of our family times, a covid blessing, we were analyzing our growth as individuals, when one of my sons came up with a profound statement. He said that we needed to check if we were effecting change in our lives by intention, viz., by deliberate desire, decision and action; or if it was just the result and byproduct of aging!

His contention was that one would seem to change because of growing old, rather than intentionally changing or amending ways. As you no longer had the strength to do as before, you may appear to have become better , whereas in reality, you just did not have enough energy or stamina to do certain things. Moreover, these actions, such as becoming angry or throwing your weight around, may adversely your health. Thus, you may have become more amenable or patient or tolerant or forgiving, not by virtue of genuine transformation, but by force of circumstances. Your change is an effect and impact of aging rather than a realization and subsequent modifying of your ways. Your transformation is incidental rather than intentional. How insightful, I thought to myself, as I began to examine the truth of his statement!

Transformation or metamorphosis, from the Greek Metamorphidzo, is a word associated with a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. It denotes the process of changeover from an immature form to an adult form in two or more distinct stages. It is a biological process which involves sudden and abrupt changes in the body structure of the animal by cell growth and differentiation and normally observed in amphibians and insects.

Metamorphosis is different from a life cycle in that the latter is a series of steps describing the basic life patterns of a species, while metamorphosis is a rapid transformation that completely changes the very appearance of the insect.

In geology, metamorphic rocks are prexisting rocks that undergo alteration in response to changing environmental conditions such as heat, pressure, or other natural agencies, e.g. in the folding of strata or the nearby intrusion of igneous rocks. Examples of metamorphic rocks are gneiss, slate, marble, schist, and quartzite.

Convert, transfigure, transform, transmogrify and transmute are all synonyms of metamorphosis, but all these words mean “to change a thing into a different thing.” The word metamorphosis indicates a change of physical form, structure, or substance, by external influence. It suggests an abrupt or startling change induced by an outside power.

Humans, with our structural system intact, are not able to make such a physically striking transformation. Yet, psychologically we do undergo change, for psychosocial maturing during our life is nothing but psychological metamorphosis.

Throughout life, our mind is in a constant state of flux, as we witness many beliefs and go through dynamics of social environment. Our knowledge about the world goes through many transformations based on how life events structure and impact our thoughts. Therefore, we go through various stages of psychological maturity, transitioning from one level of maturity to another, thereby undergoing psychological metamorphosis.

We are stuck or graced with our human form throughout our life, but we do have the option of mental or situational metamorphosis. We also don’t have to be limited to one transformation nor to one time only, but key is option and desire to grow, change or evolve.

The goal of life, as we go through the different stages of aging, is to become mature and increasingly able to handle life’s situations; to progress from basic trust to ego-integrity; from drive and hope to renunciation and wisdom. All cultures and civilizations expect this maturing to happen. The question is whether it is happening and if so, how and when!

Apostle Paul instructs the Christians in Rome: Do not become like the people who belong to this world. But let God completely change the way that you think, so that you live differently. Then you will understand what God wants you to do. You will know what is good. You will know what pleases God. You will know what is completely right (Rom 12:2 EASY). Since metamorphosis, by definition, is transformation by an external power, we have to choose and allow God to transform us while we do our part—actively renew our minds. The Spirit of God will gradually transforms us into the image of Christ (2 Cor 3:16-18), if we give Him free rein over our lives.

The apostles of Christ constantly warn us about resisting the Spirit of God and about rebelling against Him. Scriptures show that a whole generation of people did not attain their promised destiny because of their stubborn nature. The Bible assures us that what we go through is what others everywhere go through too. However, we have the promise that God is faithful to help us bear it (I Cor 10:13).

The Word of God points out that God will use everything, both good and bad, to transform us into the likeness of Christ, Who is the best version of the human race (Rom 8: 28-29). Every instance, every issue, every problem, every circumstance, every person can and will bring change in our lives, if we cooperate and not counteract God. The question is whether we will yield to His influence and power so as to undergo metamorphosis.

Lord Jesus told Peter, I am telling you the truth: when you were young, you used to get ready and go anywhere you wanted to; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will bind you and take you where you don’t want to go (John 21:18 GNB). Even though this was spoken of the sort of death Peter would face, yet there is a kernel of truth for all of us to note. There is period where we are in control of our lives and all that is in it. However, there will come a time and season wherein we will be forced to change or we will have to transform.

Metamorphosis refers to the process of transformation, whether it’s the changing of an immature insect into an adult insect, or the changes that occur in each of us throughout our lifespan.

Metamorphosis is change or transformation produced by the action of an external force, either natural or supernatural. The question is whether that change will be natural to you (as in a butterfly) or will it be inevitable when you are at your most vulnerable because of your stubborn resistance to change.

Metamorphosis, is it a way life for you or a by-the-way of life for you? Is it the main product of your life or a byproduct of your life? Is it intentional purpose of your life or incidental because of your stage of life or circumstances?

Choose what you want it to be!

*Sources of information: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/metamorphosis https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/metamorphosis https://www.britannica.com/science/metamorphic-rock http://durangonaturestudies.org/humans-metamorphosis-part-life/ https://medium.com/quotes-and-thoughts/what-is-your-psychological-metamorphosis-story-dab094f0e6fd https://www-psychologytoday-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/

COMPASSION, THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENT NEEDED FOR THE HOUR

In a recent conversation with a co-worker, I was taken aback to know that he thought of himself as being emotional in his orientation. A very down-to-earth, practical person, I have always thought of him as one who was full of of rich emotions rather than being an emotional person, a vast difference between the two. He was pleasantly surprised and so, as a counsellor, I went on to explain about empathy and sympathy.

Empathy and sympathy are words that many use interchangeably, since they are near cousins, but truly differ vastly from one another. In every field and aspect related to human care, such as the medical field or allied professions, empathy is touted over sympathy as being the needed emotion. Why is this so?

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary: Sympathy, constructed from the Greek sym, meaning “together,” and pathos, referring to feelings or emotion, is used when one person shares the feelings of another, as when one experiences sadness when someone close is experiencing grief or loss. Empathy is a newer word also related to “pathos.” It differs from sympathy in carrying an implication of greater emotional distance. With empathy, you can imagine or understand how someone might feel, without necessarily having those feelings yourself.

Sympathy is the feeling of pity or sorrow for someone else. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. So, empathy is a much deeper feeling than sympathy, as it connects you with the other person.

Sympathy is to understand what the other person is feeling while Empathy is to experience what they are feeling. Sympathy is Expressed for the other person, whereas Empathy is Shared with the other person.

Sympathy is more subjective and often causes one to become emotionally blinded, patronising, creating a divide between you and the other person – that you are lucky, you have come past the problem, but they are unlucky and still struggling.

Empathy, on the other hand, is the ability to detect another’s emotions and deal with them in a beneficial manner while being able to recognize and regulate your own emotions. Empathy occurs in the here and now, shown by immersing yourself in another person’s world, without making yourself into them – you retain your sense of self and know that you yourself are actually outside of the problem. Empathy is objective because it views information through logical criteria rather than personal opinion. 

Social psychologist and bestselling author Brené Brown says, Empathy drives connection and sympathy drives disconnection.

The Bible in Hebrews 4:15 notes that we have a High Priest Who can empathize with our weaknesses and is therefore, able to make intercession for us. Jesus is able to advocate for us before the throne of grace just because He truly knows what we are going through and even though He Himself is perfect and pure, He is not critical but understanding.

Sympathy will make us consider and commiserate with others, feel pity for them in their situation, but that is all we will do. Empathy, on the other hand, will enlarge our understanding to know what they are going through and drive us to atleast pray for them. Empathy is at the root of intercession since it enables us to really put ourselves in the other’s shoes and sense their predicament without getting lost in our own emotions about it. We are able to uphold them in their infirmity because of our ability to identify with them without getting entangled in our opinion or our judgement about the situation they are facing. Empathy will make us excusers and reconcilers, rather than accusers and destroyers of our own like the devil!

Now the Scriptures do not stop with declaring that the Lord empathizes and identifies with us in our weaknesses (for He Himself was made like us Heb 2:17-18), but also proclaims that the Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion (Ps 116:5 NIV).

Compassion, builds upon empathy and is one of the main motivators of altruism. With empathy, I share your emotions; with compassion I not only share your emotions, but also elevate them into an universal and transcending experience. Compassion, or “suffering alongside” someone, is being more engaged than simple empathy, and is associated with an active desire to alleviate the suffering of its object.

Sympathy is a feeling of sadness or pity felt for another person. Empathy is a one-on-one connection because of a deep understanding that comes from sharing an emotional experience. Compassion is the willingness to relieve the suffering of another and compassion is a broader sense of care for the world at large. Mark of compassion is the move to action!

The Gospel writers highlight Jesus being moved with compassion and always doing something to alleviate the suffering or need – feeding the multitude, healing the sick, opening blind eyes, making the lame to walk, raising widow’s dead son and sharing the good news.

Apostle Paul writes to the churches urging them to, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Col 3:12 NIV). Compassion is to not stop with feeling or understanding, but going beyond to do something to relieve the suffering.

I think my friend whom I spoke about, is not just emotional as he thinks, but truly compassionate, for I have seen him go out of his way to care for others, making him excel and stand out in his line of work. This inclination enables him to bring a new dimension to the highly competitive field of sales, for he operates with genuine concern rather than just an eye to profit and loss, even though that his sphere of responsibility. Compassion helps him go the extra mile in his daily routine, bringing a care that brands him as a follower of Christ and disciple of His teaching.

In this covid period, compassion and empathy, rather than just sympathy and pity, will enable us to be doers rather than bystanders or commentators!

*Pic courtesy google images, umsplash and shutterstock

*Information sources: https://compassionit.com/2017/08/27/empathy-sympathy-and-compassion-whats-the-difference/ https://keydifferences.com/difference-between-sympathy-and-empathy.html https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/should_we_train_doctors_for_empathy https://www.6seconds.org/2021/01/20/empathy-vs-sympathy-what-the-difference/ https://www.themedicportal.com/blog/whats-the-difference-between-sympathy-and-empathy/

WOMEN, FIGHT TO BE UNIQUE; NOT TO IMITATE!

One of the aspects of women liberation and emancipation seems to be to show that women are like men. In the name of freedom, women are focusing on imitating men rather than on recovering their uniqueness and specialness.

To be human is to be set apart and different from all other forms of life, for human beings have been created as the highest order of life, second only to God. For a human being to imitate an animal to be a vegetable is both unthinkable and ludicrous. We can masquerade as one which is ok for fun or even a play, but to imitate or strive to be one is ridiculous

For a woman to fight to be like a man or to imitate one in order to establish equality or even supremacy borders on lunacy. Being a woman is being different, set apart as being a dissimilar species, acknowledging and avowing with divergence rather than with congruity. A woman is unique and distinctive, just as a man is in his own way, each able to contribute uniquely. Each is special and individual, and therefore, impossible to imitate or copy.

A forgery of an invaluable artwork or an exquisite ornament is undesirable when it is possible to have or possess the original. An imitation has not the honor or respect as the authentic and genuine. A replica does not carry the validity of the bonafide and true. An imitation is just that – a counterfeit – not the same as the real.

Why is it then as singular beings, the best of the best, we seek to be a copy when we already truly are special since we are unalike! The stimulating and invigorating aspect of this earth is its variety and variability. As human beings, man and woman are both distinct and distinguished. To imitate one another is to lose identity and identification. Together they make a wholesome one, unparalleled in complementarity as well as in complexity. To make one as another will cause uniformity because of conformity rather than solidarity through integration.

As women, we do need to claim and demand what is ours by right – equal consideration, equal parity, equal acceptance, equal honor, equal treatment etc. However, we do not need to surrender our uniqueness to gain all of this. It will take away our contrast and make us common.

I, for one, won’t bow down to that pressure, but forever to be who I was created to be – special, quirky and individual!

The women of past who rose up against injustice accorded to their own, from Alice Paul and Maud Wood Park to Malala Yousafazi and Kamla Bhasin, all did without comprising their feminity. To champion the cause of women and women’s rights doesn’t mean we have become masculine or like men.

We need to stand for who we are and what ought to be ours!

To have to be like a man in order to gain for a woman is antiprogressive and antipersonnel.

To surender in order to win is anticlimactic.

Women, on Women’s Day, celebrate your originality and strive to be unique while seeking to be equal!

*Pics courtesy in splash.com, shutterstock and google images

MAKING YOUR MARK

One of my favorite poems is the one entitled Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley:

I am struck by the irony of the picture his words create – the pompous declaration of the king in the past contrasted with the reality visible in the present; the pathos of the empty vastness and the poignancy of the observation Nothing beside remains; the endless sands marking with finality the futility of perceived grandiosity and assumed greatness, while preserving the true nature of mankind mocking the tyrant in a subtle lasting way!

No other writing well portrays the fickleness of trying to leave a mark. No evidence better describes the vanity of doing something to inspire envy in the hearts of people fortunate enough to view a glory. No amount of power or wealth seems to be able to leave an impact on history inspite of efforts. No way to extend remembrance of existence in time and space even when possessing impressive grandeur.

We all do want to leave our mark in this world, in one way or another. People endow grants and prizes, carve their names and faces on rock and stone, work with tree and wood or paint and brush to create impression. We want to not only be remembered, but also make a dent on the fabric of this life to show our presence. How do we ensure that we do not end up like Ozymandias, with no trace of even in the very monuments he created in order to preserve his place in time.

What we strive to accomplish with the help of ambition, greed and selfishness are all swept away by the passage of time, worn out by the winds of change that are inevitable. What we pay attention to, give preference for, run after, slog for and pour ourselves out for, all become meaningless or redundant in the long run. What we value and pursue, giving our whole being to attaining, soon passes away into oblivion and forgetfulness. Rightly did King Solomon the Wise at the pinnacle of his glory declare: Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

If this is all there is to life, what then is the use of work, toil, labor, striving and forbearance? Don’t we all want to be held in memory, remembered and not forgotten? How can we ensure perpetuity of existence and linger long in the minds of others? What is it that will help us etch our brand firmly on life and people?

As people, we are the best of creation, made to be eternal and everlasting. We have been given the unique trait to transcend from humanness and evanescence to godlikeness and permanence. There is an innate need within us to set in concrete terms that we were once alive and well. What is it therefore that helps us leave a fingerprint or footprint in time and space that cannot be erased or eroded away, giving expression to a need that throbs within us?

Life in general and all living things in particular get perpetuated by the proliferation and multiplication of their kind. The Creator has bestowed the ability to procreate within the body of every living kind, be it plant, animal or human. Each species on earth embodies a seed, which when planted in the right ground, brings forth fruit after its kind. Thus do all living things leave behind a generation that preserves its kind and type on earth.

Reproduction is the greatest blessing endowed on all living beings on earth, ensuring their kind has existential continuity!

Monuments may decay and die; Memories fade and flee;
Moths and insects erode and destroy;
Thieves steal and vandalize;
But a generation cannot be erased,
Nor a people totally annihilated.

That’s the mark we can create or help establish.
That’s the impression we can leave behind.

A progeny that will replicate and remember us;
A posterity that will carry on our name;
A people who will be living miniatures of ourselves,
Establishing and marking our past in their making of the present,
And impacting the future through their own

King Ozymandias would have done well to leave behind a host of people or his own sons and daughters to continue the good work he had done in his lifetime.

That is, if he had done good at all!

*Pics courtesy google images

LETTER TO A LEADER

DEAR ESTHER
Congratulations on the appointment, the honour and dignity conferred on you. You were recruited in the right place at the right time and now you have been given the right authority. It gladdens my heart to see the position you have been raised to, by the mercy and grace of God. You have asked me questions regarding your station and in the light of where you are right now, I will try to answer your pertinent queries to the best of my ability, based both on my experience and expertise in the field, trusting in the wisdom and ways of God, as a forerunner!

CALL
The first thing to know, realise and understand, is that you have been called to such a place and position, not by any man but by God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. Thus, you must always be aware that you are accountable to Him and must one day stand before His Majesty to give count to Him. Without this clear call from God and assurance from His Spirit, you can never function as a leader over His people. They are His people and He has the right to ordain whom He wants as shepherd over His inheritance, even when socio-cultural norms may dictate otherwise. This is the bedrock of your function, the stable grounding of your service and the impetus for every decision you will take. Remember that No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves. It is God who judges: He brings one down; he exalts another (Ps 75:6–7). This is your strength and the hope that will anchor your being to your post, in spite of whatever opposition and vagaries of opinion that may confront you. Like a soldier who doesn’t move until he is commanded to do so, discharge the duties of your position well.  This call on your life then is what will make you stand tall on that firm foundation, often needing to encourage yourself, like David in his moment of crisis when all turned against him, for The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it (1 Thess 5:23–24).

CHARACTER
Leadership is not a position of authority and power, but an endowment of responsibility and trust. Nobody can assume or presume to be one, unless it is a grace and a gift, given and bestowed by God. Scripture notes there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God (Rom 13:1–2). Therefore, leadership over the flock entrusted to you is not positional but functional; an opportunity to do the best you can for those entrusted to you with the resources available to you. It is a call to serve others for their benefit using your power to benefit and bless others, not you or your own. Leadership over His people is a matter of service to God and man, not for self-promotion or domination over others or for your own ambitions. Therefore, it is a matter of maturity, holiness, wisdom and power as evidenced by the fact that His leaders instruct their apprentices to set those of impeccable character and integrity in positions of overseeing. Being young, you need to not only let anyone not default you in anything, but also be an example of love, faith and purity for all to follow. In addition, because I was an older woman, I had to pay attention to being serious, dependable and trustworthy. So you are better off than me!

CONDUCT
It is very important for you to maintain good conduct for it is the exhibition of your unseen character. So be careful to be groomed inwardly, adorned with the attitude and mind of Christ, paying attention to how you behave before others, for many will be watching you to see if you will fall or fail. Learning to be humble, without selfish ambition and vain conceit must be core of your growth, besides praying, reading the word, tithing, etc. Your inner beauty must enhance and augment your outer trim and swathe, so that your bejeweled appearance is haloed by an inner radiance that attracts with its own charisma. You must not stoop to petty jealousies or quarrels or gossip, but hold your post with poise; be willing to listen and receive input from your team, lead any discussion without being argumentative or aggressive or manipulative and willing worker to those in authority over you. If you were an older woman, you would have the additional task, as I had and have, of teaching younger women how to be homebodies minding their business and not busybodies in others’ affairs!


CULTURE
It is very important for you to breed and foster the right culture, for culture is nothing but a way of life and a way of doing things. Plant and incubate a culture of oneness, camaraderie, goodwill, cooperation and helpfulness, not competition or conspiracy. Do not lower the standards ordained in order to gain favour or please someone or curry favour with those above you, but be willing and ready to state the truth without compromise. Maintain your stance with decency and dignity, not looking down or ill-treating those placed under you, while at the same time able to apologise when you are wrong or when you make a mistake. Don’t claim others’ work as your own or take credit for their solutions, but always seek to promote your team and advertise their contributions. Give reward and credit where it is due and do not elevate yourself or your status by climbing on another’s shoulders, for promotion comes from God. Take care to walk in the fear of God, not man, so that all you do will pass the fiery flames of His testing. When this is your way of life, your team and those below you will follow suit, and thus civilized attitude and behaviour will spread as ripples in a pond or yeast in dough!

CROWN
Now I have come to what should be the core of your being, the context of your authority, the content of your position and the crown of your person. It has been my sorrow to watch gifted women, born to be leaders and called to be overseers, lose it all because of lacking this Kohinoor diamond of womanhood and queenliness—submission. According to that Chinese saint and stalwart Watchman Nee, submission is not so much an aspect of conduct as much it is a facet of the attitude of the heart, and many women confuse subservient obedience with submission. The former is born of fear of aggression and abuse, while the latter is a willing choice done in the fear of God and trust in Him!

A woman must learn submission if she is a leader who walks and works with authority. The demeanour of a woman leader’s heart is more important than the deportment of her manner and manners. Many well camouflage the raging of their heart and storminess in their mind by an outward show of quietness and calmness, without understanding the outcome of their wrong attitude. God, who sees in secret and who is privy to all secrets of our being, for our substance is not hidden to Him, judges us by our attitudes rather than by our behaviour. I have watched many an apparently soft-spoken woman dig her feet in stubborn sullenness, quietly refusing to comply with instructions of the authority over them. Authority is the umbrella of protection and preservation that God has placed over us and the woman who knows how to walk in it will thrive and flourish with aplomb in her role as a leader. Refusing to walk under it or rejecting its dictates will cause a women become a puppet and a toy of the devil, tossed here and there by him, be overtaken by deception and end up losing the very call that was meant to make them a blessing and a boon to many.


Beware Esther, and never rebel against those placed over you as your boss, even when he or she may not be accurate. God you trust will help you and uphold your integrity, fighting on your behalf and defending you before all by a favour.

I think I have given you enough to think through, wrestle with, long for and pray about for a long time.

May you be a shining star in the beauty of His firmament, guiding many with your pure radiance and shedding your light in a dark and perverse world!

With blessings,
Deborah

*This article was published in the Christian Trends magazine Oct 2019 issue! (https://ctrendsmag.com/author/sabina-immanuel/)

(https://ctrendsmag.com/author/sabina-immanuel/)

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com, shutterstock.com and google images

WHY INTERCESSION AND PRAYER!

When I hear about people being in grave illness, especially cancer or other sicknesses for which there seem to be no cure, I feel helpless and hapless.

When I receive requests to pray for people who are wasting away with specific maladies, I often feel clueless and powerless, especially when there seems to be no change.

I wonder, what is the use of praying when you know there is no remedy for such dire diseases. I am puzzled by what is accomplished when I am called to intercede and petition for any one as it is obvious there is no cure yet for such ailment nor too much history of healing, compared to the numbers affected!

I wonder why I should pray and what is the use of my intercession!

When I faced a similar situation with a family member being hospitalized for a sickness, I was swamped with a feeling of despair and inadequacy to deal with it. In a state of numbness, I informed my family members and then sat back overwhelmed by the many thoughts of changes that would be needed in the event of such a sickness. I couldn’t pray, couldn’t comprehend what to pray for, why I should do so and how to go about doing it.

That’s when my dad, a true man of God and faith, wrote to me, first encouraging me by reminding me of a past incident when God healed his mother, my paternal grandmother, in answer to prayer. Then he sent me a quotation from Job 33 and therein I found my comfort and the answer to all my questions.

I read there that ‘God disciplines people with pain on their sickbeds, with ceaseless aching in their bones. They lose their appetite for even the most delicious food. Their flesh wastes away, and their bones stick out. They are at death’s door; the angels of death wait for them.‘ According this passage, God does this in order to ‘rescue them from the grave so they may enjoy the light of life.’ This about people who are going through the dealings of God.

What about those of us who are observers and bystanders, as well as loved ones and family members? What are we to do? Stand shocked or throw words of judgment and criticism against them, pointing our fingers at their misdemeanor? Not at all! Then what can we do? The answer to this is given in the same chapter.

Yet if there is an angel at their side, a messenger, one out of a thousand, sent to tell them how to be upright, and he is gracious to that person and says to God, ‘Spare them from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for them – let their flesh be renewed like a child’s; let them be restored as in the days of their youth – then that person can pray to God and find favor with him, they will see God’s face and shout for joy; he will restore them to full well-being. And they will go to others and say, ‘I have sinned, I have perverted what is right, but I did not get what I deserved. God has delivered me from going down to the pit, and I shall live to enjoy the light of life.’

I see that all we can do is to stand in the gap and intercede for the person who is suffering. We have to be gracious towards the one who is in trouble and be an angel or a messenger of mercy to present their cause before God. We need to uphold the ransom paid for them on the cross by His Son Jesus and ask God to spare them. We need to be advocates of their case before God and petition for their restoration.

What is the effect of such a stance on the one who is suffering? The ones going through the dealing of the Lord are given special ability to pray in the midst of their trouble and find favor with God. They are given grace to ask for pardon and they will also find mercy in His sight. They will turn back and turn towards God, like the sunflower faces the sun! They will then turn witnesses of His benevolence and beneficence, rather be remain rebels of it! That is why intercession is important, because it enables them to turn to their Maker.

The impact of intercession and petition on behalf of a delinquent moves the already compassionate heart of God, making it possible for Him to extend His mercy rather than judgment. God is both the God of justice and God of mercy, keeping both these parts of His nature in perfect balance. Yet, according to James 2:13, mercy always triumphs over judgment, a fact illustrated and stated by Portia in the Merchant of Venice.

We see this same sentiment echoed by Paul in his second epistle to the Corinthians when he writes that the prayer of many delivered his team and team from

God’s heart towards us is the heart of a Father and a mother, seeking to exhibit mercy rather than execute judgement, for He loves us dearly. Rare is the parent who, even in the height of anger, will not yield to persuasion by someone else who will petition on behalf of the erring child they are forced to discipline. A parent yearns over their child even when they have to punish and nothing makes them stay their hand as a grandparent, uncle, aunt, brother, sister or friend pleading on behalf of their own guilty child. They love the one who steps into the gap to rest the hand of harsh retribution.

So, also God, as the eternal lover of His creation, seeks for someone to stand up in defense of the one who is facing the rod of correction that His majestic justice requires of Him. When such a messenger is found or is present, God will gladly stay His hand of justice in favor of extending His Hand of mercy. If, in addition a ransom is also found, God gladly restores and rejoices in life rather than in execution. God cannot hold back His judgements, but He can be persuaded to deal favorably when an advocate of mercy is found.

That is why God loves intercessors and prayer warriors who stand in the gap and plead for His mercy on His humanity rather than those who demand reteibution.

God seeks to be merciful more than being harsh or judgemental. His Name that was proclaimed before Moses is “The Lord , the Lord , the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”Exo 34:6‭-‬7. When His very name and nature are compassion, how can He not respond to interceding petitions and prayers!

To my question of why intercession and of what use it is when all seems hopeless, I found that intercession and prayer birth repentance and rejuvenation in the one who is suffering and makes way for God to be merciful and restoring towards His people rather than judgmental.

The call is to be intercessors rather than accusers.

What will we choose to do?

*It would help you to read my previous post on DOES GOD SPEAK http://sabinatagoreimmanuel.com/2020/12/30/does-god-speak/

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com and google images.

THE GOLDEN THREAD

I remember my father, a police officer, while in service,mentioning a time when action taken by his department proved wrong due to misinformation. Those directly involved were to face very serious discipline that would destroy their career and put a black mark on their confidential report. The then police chief stepped up and took responsibility for the action, deflecting the punishment away from his men and bearing the ignominy. As their leader, he took on the penalty to be visited in his team and silently paid the price to shield his men. He willingly bore the pressure and stigma of failure and punishment, causing his men to admire, respect and be commited to him all the time he was in service. My father taught us that loyalty is the true hallmark of a great leader of caliber.

Loyalty is the quality of being loyal and the strong feeling of support and allegiance. It is staying steadfast, not vacillating with opportunity, opinion or opposition. It is standing by and sticking your team whatever the circumstance and irrespective the cost. Loyalty bestows integrity and causes you not to be like the foam or froth that doesn’t stick to anything but is quickly blown away. Loyalty is the one attribute most prized and appreciated by kings. Disloyalty earns distrust and rejection from authority.

Loyalty is priceless commodity in and with a leader for it is invaluable for team building and team progress. One traitor to the team is enough to sow distrust and dissension, destroying camaraderie and bonhomie in the team. The members of the team will end up working against each other rather than of co-working and it will all be only a matter of survival instead of attaining a common goal. Infighting, backbiting and stone-throwing will become the norm poisoning team dynamics and life will be hell for all. Oneness and unity can never be achieved in such a group as members will act counter to one another, rather than for the welfare of one and all.

A disloyal leader will not be able to promote fearless transparency and openness, but only stealth and self-preservation. It is erroneous to think that to divide is to conquer, for a better way would be to inspire to follow and seek to work with goodwill. A wise leader will model the spirit of loyalty, not just to himself, but to one another and to the team as a whole. Loyalty is the golden cord that will bind a team together, fusing diverse people into a unified whole.

No wonder the armed forces and all uniformed personnel are inculcated and inoculated with loyalty, for otherwise those entrusted with guarding the nation and normal life would end up selling it!

No other person embodied and showcased loyalty as much as Jesus Christ, the hero of the gospels and the savior of humanity. Whenever the Pharisees and Sadducees or anyone else nitpicked on his disciples, he defended them (Matt 9:14). He Himself would rebuke and correct His disciples, but would often protect them before others. The Bible, from cover to cover, demonstrates God’s faithfulness and commitment to His people, even when they chose to abandon Him. Psalms extol His faithfulness as being constant for generations and reaching to the heavens.

We as His people, the ones He chose, must imitate and display this character of His on which we so much depend. This is what distinguishes us as His own, set apart as those who follow Him.

We must exhibit loyalty as our core value and structure, proving that we His disciples.

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. (I Cor 4:2).

Do we value loyalty that inspires commitment or are we this who rule by fear and division, be it at home or in work?

Loyalty shouldn’t be a program to earn brownie points, but a hallmark of true character and persuasion of real leadership!

The example and picture of loyalty shouldn’t be a dog, but a human being, someone who is actually higher than an animal!

Betrayal breeds Judases and renegades, while loyalty births Christlikeness and patriots.

Choose what or who you would be!

*Pics courtesy google images and unsplash.com

STRONGHOLDS, THE WAY TO OVERCOME THEM

In the Bible, when Israel entered Canaan land, the first city they won a victory over was Jericho. The second one they went against was Ai but were defeated because of sin in the camp. Once Joshua and the people had repented of it and had cleansed themselves, God enabled them to overcome Ai.

God gave them a battle plan to overcome it by setting an ambush. Joshua killed all its inhabitants and its king, taking only the plunder and livestock for themselves, then set fire to the city, leaving it in ruins, just as God instructed them to. You can read an account of this incident in chapter 7 and 8 of the book of Joshua.

Ai was not just another town to overcome, but a place of defeat and shame for Israel because they disobeyed God. It was, therefore, imperative for Joshua and Israel to drastically deal with it, destroying it completely to strike fear in the hearts of all the inhabitants of Canaan who were watching these events. We read in chapter 9 that this did strike so much fear in the hearts of the kings around that they ganged up together to fight against Israel and in the battle that followed, were soundly defeated.

Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Ephesus warns them to put on the whole armour of God since our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of darkness in heavenly places. Our enemies today are not physical, but those that war against the soul and hold us captive by influencing our thoughts, emotions and behaviour.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle in ch 10 tells the church that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (not physical), but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.

Strongholds are imaginations and high thoughts that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, resulting in unbelief and birthing rebellion against His rulership and authority in our lives.

The way Joshua dealt with the stronghold of Ai gives us clues and pointers as to how to deal with strongholds today.

Strongholds come when we allow wrong patterns of thought, feeling and behaviour to crystallize in our lives. Strongholds begin when we allow Satan, self and sin to gain a toehold in us. From being a toehold it progresses to a foothold, a threshold, an anchor-hold (rooted in you), becomes a household (part of you), then a stranglehold (doesn’t let go) and finally a stronghold (holds you captive).

Strongholds develop over some time and can be acquired by genetic transfer, genealogical download, from our wrong thought processes, from rebellious orientations and stubborn natures. If we have to truly be set free and enjoy the fullness of the abundant life Jesus promised, we must deal with strongholds and destroy them.

How do you destroy strongholds and overcome deep-seated bondages? You destroy them by a truth encounter and a Spirit encounter.

Truth encounter is when you are confronted by the Word of God and you allow it to work in your heart and life. In John 8 we read of Jesus declaring that we will know the truth and the truth will set us free and in John 17:17 that His word is truth. Heb 4:12 tells us that the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it can judge the desires and thoughts of the heart. Since strongholds are found in the inner being of thoughts and intents, only the Word of God can penetrate deep enough to destroy them.

However, truth encounter can set us free from strongholds, if and only if we are humble enough to accept and acknowledge the diagnosis of sin and wrongdoing that the Word brings to us, irrespective of who brings it and no matter how it comes. When our hearts are tender and pliable, we will hear and accept the truth even from a child or a donkey (Balaam) or by hearing a cock crow (Peter)!

Acceptance of the truth about ourselves will lead us to humble ourselves and repent. Once we repent, we are in the light as He is in the light and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, making us whole. Strongholds need the truth of the Word of God to be demolished and destroyed!

Spirit encounter happens when the power of God is present to heal and deliver us from all bondages. That is why we need the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the infilling of the Spirit, nor just once, but constantly in our lives. The Bible says that where the Spirit of God is there is liberty because the veil over the mind is then removed by His presence and there are openness and sensitivity to His word (II Cor 3). Hence, being filled with and being full of the Spirit and power is a mandatory need for being set free from strongholds.

If the Spirit of God is to deliver and set us free, we need to allow Him to heal our inner wounds and hurts. People may have wronged us, done evil against us or even robbed us of our opportunities and prosperity. We need to forgive each and everyone unconditionally, just as Christ has forgiven us, irrespective of what they may have done. Harbouring bitterness, malice and unforgiveness are key factors in developing strongholds in our lives.


To live a life free of strongholds, we need to:

Walk in the light as He is the light, being sensitive and responsive to His word
Renew our minds and calibrate it to the principles and precepts in the Word of God
Avoid nurturing hard feelings and wrong emotions, but allowing inner healing to happen
Forgive, let go of hurts and all kinds of negativity
Work in the habit of reconciliation, restitution and restoration, always taking care to be led by and yielded to the Holy Spirit
Grow in the knowledge of the Lord and the power of His might to deliver as well as protect us from all else
Be strong and convinced about God’s love, certain that He is always for you, never against you!

It is very important for us to be aware, identify and confront strongholds, taking care to see that they are utterly dismantled. Just as Joshua completely ruined Ai, even so, we must root out every last bit of stronghold and ensure we have removed any vestige or remnant of it. The reason for this is that if there is a root left behind, it will be easy for the stronghold to rise again to rule the roost. A vulnerability and weakness remains embedded and hidden in, giving a handle for the enemy to use it to enslave.

Every disciple and believer of Christ can themselves identify and destroy strongholds when they are yielded to the Spirit of God and sensitive to the Word of God. When you are encountering or being confronted or convicted by both, just bow down and accept humbly. Allow the Word of God to wash you and the Spirit of God to empower you with His healing anointing.

Both encounters can come to you through various circumstances and people. If you reject the message because of the messenger, you are the one who will lose out. Happy is the one who is open and sensitive to take correction and admonition even from a child, for God can use even the least to bring deliverance!

If you find certain strongholds too much for you to handle, request the help of godly strong mentors and leaders who are older and wiser than you. Don’t hesitate to open up to them, but live and walk in accountability to them, always. Do not seek help from peers, but seek out the help of mature and understanding elder men and women who themselves are walking in Spirit and in truth.

Be part of a small group and grow in relationship with the people of God. There is much protection from the forces of darkness and deliverance from inward bondages when you are actively part of a community of faith.

Do not give place nor a foothold to the devil, Eph 4:27

Strongholds are dangerous to cultivate, foster and maintain for they give room for the devil to have a place in our lives. Root them out asap, even though letting go is hard. It will be harder when you allow a stronghold take root in you, for then you are building an arsenal for the enemy to use against you!

Imitate Christ Who boldly but surely declared that the prince of this world had no hold over Him (John 14:30)!

*Pics courtesy Google Images