PANDEMIC PROGNOSIS

Last Sunday we were challenged in church to look back at how we have used this period of pandemic – whether we had used it wisely or squandered it foolishly.

True wisdom lies in being able to recognize the times and seasons we live in, then adapt to it accordingly. An unprecedented worldwide phenomenon such as covid, be it man-made or natural, incidental or accidental, induced or spontaneous, can and should alter our lives. Nothing comes even close to this universal event, except maybe the world wars of last century, which most of us in this century have no idea about.

Such a massive happening will and should produce an realigning, but whether that change is for the good and better or bad and worse, is our choice.

A checklist to see what alteration and adaptation pandemic lockdown should have birthed in us/our lives:

1. In the light of so many deaths, have I/we become more considerate and compassionate of others? Pandemic should have taught us the value of human lives and how quickly people can pass out of our lives, without even a warning. If I haven’t learnt to treat others better, then I have wasted this season.

2. In the wake of so many losses the world as a whole incurred, have I/we learnt what is of value and what is not? Everything became meaningless and pointless when one was isolated and alone in a hospital bed or room. The greatest commodity, if we may term it so, the most valuable of all things, is human life. Living things, especially humans, are the most indispensable and fundamental part of this world. Once lost, their absence will produce irrevocable and irrecoverable impacts and effects.

3. In the aftermath of the disease, have I/we learnt the efficacy and importance of building community consciousness? It was those who had built a network of associations who survived and sustained as the illness raged, felling all equally. Rich or poor, educated or illiterate, upper class or low class, single or married, young or old, whatever the estate, we all were susceptible to the onslaught of the infirmity. Relationships and friendships became key to maintaining sanity and humanity. To know someone cares was enough to stem the despair that flooded us when we were sick.

4. In the affect of such sweeping malady, have I/we learnt to value time? We have seen that money, possessions, lands and gold cannot compensate for time lost, especially occasions lost in spending with loved ones. Time is one thing that cannot be recovered or restored, and so, I hope we have all learnt to conserve time and to use it well, for the right and appropriate things.

5. In the wake of so many lost lives, have I/we priortised spending time with loved ones? Bible declares that the life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more, Psa 103:16 NIV. The truth of this statement was demonstrated and made evident in these 2 years. After seeing people pass away in an a moment, we need to seek and make time with loved ones. Just as lost time cannot be recovered, lost souls cannot be recovered nor lost opportunities to be with those we love, regained. Let’s not go back to our old trends but form new ones that focus on people.

6. In the recovery period of the malady, have I/We understood the importance of physical and in-person interactive exchange? Meeting in person and face to face cannot be replaced by virtual connect or face time or skype/zoom calls. Nothing can ever replace the exchange that takes place physically, for such an exchange uplifts us unconsciously in physical meeting. Let’s not become so used to isolation that we lose out on physical interaction.

7. In view of an infirmity of this magnitude, have I/We developed a new lifestyle, one that focuses on healthy living? The old adage that when health is lost something is lost has been sufficiently proved and I think we would be foolish not to take stock of our health. We need to reassess and set in place healthy habits and appropriate dietary practices so that we build bodily stamina as well as mental resistance. Emotional and mental stability depend so much physical well-being and hence, let us develop healthy bodies for fit minds.

8. Last but not least, have I/We learnt to put our trust in God and given time for prayer and meditation? If this pandemic has proved one thing, it is that man cannot control many things in life. When everything failed, it was only the faith in a Supreme Being, Whose power surpassed us, that kept us going. It gave us hope that things will turn around and helped us to hold on, inspite of massive despair. As the song goes, There can be miracles When you believe. Though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill. Who knows what miracles you can achieve? When you believe, somehow you will. You will when you believe. If we have failed in this, we will fail in all else!

It is imperative and important to do a pandemic prognosis so that we can correct what we need to when we can.

Covid was just a warning shot across our bows to take stock.

Have we heeded the warning and set in place the right life choices and ways?

Has pandemic shocked us to our senses?

*Pic courtesy Google images

INTERACTIVE COEXISTENCE

Since 2016, I have been a regular blogger and have progressed to be a writer, something I dreamed of for years. Even during much of pandemic season, I was able to produce a steady stream of articles and projects, even though there were constraints on time. I need quietness and peacefulness to be able to think and articulate on paper or an app page. Though there was a crunch on this type of environment as the whole family was at home, I was still able to do meaningful work.

Of late I noticed that my writing has been tapering off and anyone going through my website would notice that I had posted only 3 articles in 4 months, with none in August, when my average was 1 per week. On the other hand, within the first week of November I have been able to pen and post 2 artefacts! The reason for this change was brought home to me through this Sunday’s sermon on being specially relevant, not just spiritually resurrected!

I generally watch the ebb and flow of life around me, saturate and soak myself in the various events I encounter, weigh the pros and cons of what I read or see and analyze and evaluate all of these inputs. My writing stems from this process of thinking through and drawing wisdom from everything, both positive and negative episodes.

I am a watcher of people, happenings, disturbances and a researcher of life as I experience it. Everything has become a learning process, the good, the bad and the ugly, helping me self-actualize. I receive and assimilate all as data inputs, which in turn become points and pointers for my writing, even the negatives that I meet.

I perceived that the reason my writing had tapered off and even died down for a month was because of a lack of interaction with the real world, being limited by covid to communing and communicating mostly through virtual media and medium. Social interaction had become a minimum, confined to calls (mobile, zoom or social websites), with very little in-person or face-to-face meetings. With no real input, my wellspring of writing had dried up and it was no surprise I had almost stopped writing. No real or factual inspiration!

All living beings have been created for interactive existence and thrive only with real time and space exchange. Nature is programmed to function in a give-and-take interplay regime, and would become atrophied or extinct without interactivity. Flora and fauna need daily, weekly, monthly, yearly as well as seasonal doses of sunlight, moonlight, rainfall, mist, heat and cold, as well as intermittent purges by fire or water to flourish. Pollination by insects and birds, grazing by herbivores, hunting by carnivores, trampling by omnivores, tidal cycles etc are necessary patterns of ecology and economy for the earth to thrive. Deny any of these and the earth would continue to spin on, albeit emptily, for such is the mutual complexity of lifestyle brought into play and upheld by the Creator!

Humans are no less an integral and important part of the life cycle on this earth, with added blessing of human relationships flavoring and enhancing human being. Without physical meeting together or talking face to face in person or community gatherings, the human race would become robotic and mechanical.

Nothing comforts a bereaved person better than a silent hug, for words do fail or become redundant at such times. No sick person ever lost the need for a loved one’s visit in lieu of some fruits or flowers. No celebration is complete without kith and kin as well as others being present. Physical presence and touch is of great important to all of life, not just children or pets.

The beauty of our world is this symbiotic dependence and corporeal exchange that stimulates and promotes growth as well as fruitfulness.

When pandemic began, we were hard put to stay indoors and be confined to the home.

When pandemic is fading away, we are facing a reluctance to step out to have society and social synergy.

We were made for company and companionship.

Nothing gladdens the heart or enlivens the scene than to see a group children shouting in gleeful play, or to hear the sounds of music and dance at a festival, or witness the chatter and catching up in a marriage, or watch a group of friends slap each other’s back with joyful camaraderie or egg on a group of athletes or a team of players.

Nothing stirs up faith as corporate worship and consentient prayer.

This world was made for community and combined influence.

Interaction soothes and smoothens our existence and our life.

Don’t isolate yourself and die for lack of connect.

Don’t opt for just connectivity and lose out on communion.

Want to know the impact of interaction on me? Two articles in a day!

So, resist the urge for seclusion and come out into the light to thrive. You will be blessed!

See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me. (Song of Songs 2:11‭-‬13, The Bible)

*Read my blog on http://sabinatagoreimmanuel.com/2020/10/03/statelessness-in-the-church/ to know more

*Pic courtesy: https://unsplash.com/photos/cD1ROcn6OP8?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditShareLink

LAUNCH CODE

Patiently I have borne you,
From my womb to your flight.
Patently I have raised you,
With my hands to your stance!

Parenting thoughtfully and thoroughly,
In the days you were given to my care,
Persistently with perception have I reared you,
Trusting fully in God’s mercy and grace!

Prepping constantly and consistently,
For the time you would leave our home,
Principledly I have grounded and equipped you,
In God’s holy laws and His good ways!

Prepared you are, my son, to face the world,
Armored and armed to run your lonely race.
Parenthetically you have gained what’s important for your age,
Together your father and I relegate ourselves to the e-space!

Pace yourself my son in the novel space,
Finding and marking your place in the new race.
Peace be to you as you test your mettle in the fresh base,
For the God Who led you this far is still the Lord of all!

Park yourself always within the circle of His care,
Ever seeking to please Him in thought and prayer.
Praise Him as you meet the cares and duties of each day,
For He will guide and keep you in all your ways!

@Sabina Tagore Immanuel

*Wrote this when I bid goodbye to my son as he left for higher studies in Germany

*Pic courtesy google images

SOUL SOB

Peer into my soul, O Spirit of God
Pry open to see its secret thoughts.
Peel back its hardened scab to uncover its heart,
Pierce sharply to let its purulence run out its flow.

Patiently wait for the tide to ebb and cease
Pour then your oil to heal the festering wound
Pacify and soothe to begin its new birth and coursea
Pack it full with goodness fit for a fresh commence.

Preserve that which remains, recovering the lost
Purify and restore the marred, pattern and practice
Press into your mould the now formless void, making
Peace its defence and rest its delightful repose.

WOMEN AT REST

Covid conditions have been quite stressful and strenuous for women, especially in the family, more than anyone else. The reason is, I believe, traditionally and by nature, women consider home their domain and their resting place. Men would prefer to unwind outside the home with their friends and cronies, but a woman’s nook of refuge is her home. Like a bird that seeks its nest to rest, a woman would make a beeline for her home, every time. That’s why, when buying or investing in a house, women seem to be finicky and demanding, insisting on a certain way since it is her corner in this wide world. Nothing rejuvenates or restores a woman more than an empty house and a time to de-stress!

Unfortunately, with covid confining the family to the home, women have found it difficult to find a place to decompress and loosen up. More than ever, women, and primarily homemakers have found their realm invaded and inundated by people as well as an unending list of chores and duties. They are lost as they find no place or space for them to recover and be restored. There is no time or occasion for peace and quietness, something which is the strength of a woman. Added to this is the way the family seems to be insensitive to her need for rest and a concern for or an understanding of what truly refreshes her.

Here are some tips for finding rest in covid:

1. Be regular in your day. It is my observation that many women, specifically homemakers, do not plan their day. They don’t take hold of their day, but meet it as it comes. Rather than laying hold of their day, they allow themselves to go with the flow. This is more so in this season of pandemic, causing them to feel like a stick tossed by the day. Chalk out your day and lay hold of it, so that you are not at its mercy!

2. Find your daily rhythm. Women are most flexible and fluid, enabling them to be easily adaptable to any situation. However, during this season, with all the people at home and in constant demand, this works against them. Unless and until they set a routine they cannot combat fatigue. Make your day both flexible and rigid,which will bring order to your life.

3. Start your day with rest. Prayer and meditation is a key to rest, for the quietness you seek will be found in God’s presence. Nothing makes a woman feel refreshed as singing praises to God and doing homage to Him. By nature, women tend to be devoted and often take time to worship. Most men in the family do recognize this stellar nature of a woman and encourage their prayer time, for they recognize its role and importance. So, make time to rest in God as well as to pray for strength and grace for the day!

4. Plan your day. Women at home do not really schedule their home chores as much as women who hold a job. This is because they do not view their home duties the same way a woman does a job. Another reason is that homemakers don’t get paid and the chores they do is taken for granted. Though this attitude is good in itself, it does not give clarity to the work and so no planning gets done. Women, order your chores and plan even your meals for the week. This will help you prepare in advance and give you an edge over the day, even if disturbances arise. Moreover, your husband and kids would be more rolling and happy to help you if you don’t pester them often to run to the store because you forgot a necessary item or ingredient. Planning avoids clashes too!

5. Regulate your work and rest. A prime need for women is to mark out rest hours amidst the work. For instance, you can catch your breath and carve out a moment of peace after breakfast and before lunch work begins. Do the same in afternoon between lunch and teatime, as well as between tea and dinner. Go to bed on time so that you can rise early to have your quiet time before day begins. Don’t wait till the end of day to rest, but find pockets of time to rest!

6. Cordon off your time and space. A major default in women is that we don’t communicate with others. Once you have planned your day and ordered your time, make it known to your family. Teach them to respect it by making them understand how you need it to serve them better. Request help from your spouse to care for your kids during this time. The man who sees his wife is better for having such space will surely give it. Our problem is that we don’t admit our weakness and our need, but try to be superwomen!

7. Do something you really love. An important need for women is to develop a hobby or pastime and to do something beyond housework. Most women are lack and slack in this. They don’t evolve by learning a skill or even participating in a study process, but may spend time and effort in watching soaps and serials. Learn to do gardening or tailoring or crochet or knitting or beadwork etc. Learn driving, baking, even electrical work or earn a degree. Upgrade and encourage yourself in this season by doing something new!

8. Define yourself. Most women are clueless as to who they are and hence, allow others to delineate who they are. At the end of their life or during menopause or after children have moved on, they feel adrift, having lost themselves in the milieu and myriad of roles taken up in the course of life. Women, you are more than your roles (daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, cook, caregiver, daughter-in-law, etc). You are a human being with distinct gifts, abilities, strengths, weaknesses, personality and character. You have the ability to define yourself and not get caught up with who you are in each season of life. Understand this and keep your uniqueness secure, guarding it as treasure. Then, even when everyone in your life has passed on or moved on, you have your being intact to evolve to a new height!

9. Live in peace and tranquility. Rest and quietness must first be felt inward before it can be realized outward. Harboring resentment, bitterness, malice and so on, will harm you more than others, since it won’t allow you to rest even though you are doing it physically! Inward equanimity will go a long way in finding rest during the day. More than men, women need to let it go. Forgiveness and forbearance works much to ensure rest for we are emotional beings and when our feelings are in turmoil, we can wave goodbye to rest!

10. Reach out to make friends. Women need companions and thats why women are more invested in marriage than men. Communion and companionship is at the heart of a woman’s being, which makes her a team worker or team mate. So, reach out to cultivate friendship with others and do not isolate yourself. Communicating with a community of cronies does much for mental health. There is a sense of oneness in knowing others also have the same problems as well as strength in encouraging another. Sisterhood should be a way of life if we are to be able to maintain our sanity in this season!

Ladies, let us face this time of unprecedented happenings with zest and vivre, as we always do, by developing a new pattern and way of life. It is no use cribbing about what has been. Let us make do with what we have, thankful in the midst of it all, coming out with flying colors!

Remember, even this too shall pass!

*Read more about rest: http://sabinatagoreimmanuel.com/2020/03/11/men-at-rest/

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com

JOURNEY MERCIES!

All through my school days I was a champion athlete, participating in various events and winning many laurels. I loved to run and instinctly developed the skills to be a good runner, more than being taught the technique to do so.

One of the important traits on the track to be a champion, especially in 100m, is to fix your eye on the end and never get distracted from it. Runners are taught to pick a point/spot on the rope once lane position has been assigned and take off for it at full speed, exerting to the best, once the gun goes off. Eyes should only be on your track lane to avoid cutting tracks and then on the spot. You have to be blind and deaf to all else, including the reaction of spectators. If your attention wavered even for a second, your speed would reduce and cost you the trophy. The goal and reaching it is the only focus you could allow yourself to have, nothing more and nothing less.

I think this training has naturally spilled over into my life, shaping my personality and work culture! I have always been focused and intent on achieving the target, reaching the point, completing the task and was either ignorant or blind to all else. I didn’t mind the price I paid, the pain I endured, the straining of physical health and the emotional upheavals. It was to be done, it had to be done, irrespective of the cost. I would never go beyond the lines and boundaries, but within the framework would often run roughshod over many things and often, people.

Though such concentration and dedication to reach the goal is to be applauded in a runner, it cannot be fully applied to all of life. Such an outlook can make you insensitive and impervious to all other aspects of people and nuances of living. Even in a job, this will make you a tyrant, autocrat or dictator, one to be feared rather than followed. In the long run, you will develop such an one-dimensional and single color perspective, becoming unaware and unappreciative of the tapestry of life, that makes it monotonous and hence, boring to you as well as to those around you!

Life is not all about winning or reaching or touching the endpoint. Nor is it about forging ahead and forgetting everything else in your bid to achieve or gain a goal. Life is not a sprint that begins and ends in seconds or minutes or even hours, but a passage of time. Life is usually a long distance run, a marathon, or better still, an odyssey.

Life is a trek to be enjoyed, rather than a series of achievement hops. Life is not a string of frog jumps from one goal to another, but a travel that meanders through a myriad of land forms often hoarding and hiding different life forms. Life is an expedition of discovery and exploration, an adventure to be tasted and savored.

Life is all about growing, evolving and transforming into greater and higher dimensions of humanity. Every experience, every sight, every situation, every encounter, every instance plays a role in this shaping and forming of us. Whether we use them positively or negatively, they do impact us daily, consciously, unconsciously and subconsciously.

To all those who are like me, I say, slow down, take stock, look around and enjoy the journey on your way to reaching your goal.

The journey is as much a part of life as is reaching or achieving the target. Being sensitive to and savoring the travel will create joy in the small things and even tiny packets of time. Such joy in the ride will compensate and make it all worth while even when you don’t reach the goal and not allow you be stuck in the doldrums. Not every operation a doctor performs, nor every work a person complete, not every race run ends in a success or a win, inspite of your best efforts. There is no guarantee in life that we would complete or achieve all the time even though we did put in all we had every time.

It is then that we realize the effort and passage itself are reward enough, especially when you done all you can. It is not just about the beginning and the end, but the in-between too!

Let’s understand that peregrination is as important as the end point and take pleasure in everything and everyone we experience and encounter, using them all to learn and mature as we progress through time.

I did not win every race I ran, but I was happy to run, to compete and to complete the race.

That, my friend, is the secret of all of life!

That, my friend is the essence of living!

The journey is as essential and as gratifying as the goal!

*Pics courtesy: Unsplash.com, shutterstock and google images

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/