“Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.”
This message is directed to the youths and young ones in their developmental stages. It is a fact that you are going to bear the burden of running the affairs of this nation at one time or the other in your life. If nothing, death is imminent for all men occupying leadership positions and those ahead of you. Those occupying it would some day leave this earth and pass the baton to those following. And those following would also have to leave this earth at one time or the other. And a time is coming when it would be passed on to you. You may not necessarily be a president for there can be only one president in a nation at a time. A generation is said to be between 20 to 30 years. Between 30 years you can only have eight presidents. And if these presidents govern for a second term, it would only be four presidents in 30 years. So it is not possible for everyone to be a president. But you must serve in one capacity of leadership or the other. So it is an indisputable fact that you are the leaders of tomorrow. It is not a matter of if but a matter of when.
So, coming to this realisation, what is the right response to this realisation? To explain this I’ll like to use a good example very close to us. I’d like to pick some examples of the right response to this realisation from Goodluck Jonathan. I’m not a politician and I’m not campaigning for anyone. I don’t know if this is to my shame but I’ve never voted before, and have never owned voters’ card. However I don’t encourage you to follow my example, and I want you to be active in the democratic process, not passive as I am. So I’m not campaigning, but I just found some things worthy of emulation from the man.
Now I’m not saying he’s not without faults nor do I say he is with faults, but we mustn’t bother ourselves with the faults of men so as to neglect the good that can be learnt from them. I once heard from an elderly person that one of the former prominent Nigerian politicians was a womaniser and at this time I heard that he was being presented as a national hero. I wasn’t happy that a person with such negative qualities should be presented as a national hero. I believe a good man ought to be wholly good and to be wholly good one must have a good conscience. A conscience that can’t keep one from womanising is not likely to keep one from embezzling public funds if giving the opportunity. I wasn’t happy, but I then remembered that they were not painting him as a national hero for womanising but for some good merit of one kind or the other. So, while people could have one bad trait or the other, let’s not lose of the good we can learn from them.
We would later take a look at some Biblical characters to drive home my points, but I want us to look at an example that is nearer to us, for many times, when we hear of Bible characters they seem like abstracts to us and the things they did seem to us like things that are impracticable in our times. Apart from this we may find it hard to draw upon their deeds and apply them to our times.
Goodluck Jonathan was elected as the vice president to President Umaru Musa Yar’adua in 2007, but Yar’Adua was not in sound health at the time. Even before his presidency, it was rumoured that he had died, but that rumour was later debunked. So Goodluck Jonathan knew that it was likely that the mantle of leadership would fall on him should President Yar’Adua die. He had experienced this before while he was the deputy governor of Bayelsa State. The governor was impeached and he became the acting governor. Should President Yar’Adua die, he’d experience the same again. He likely knew that, should the worst happen, he’d become the acting president of Nigeria.
So what did he do in response to the realisation that he may soon be in the foremost position of leadership in the country? It was reported in “This Day”, a Nigerian Newspaper, about the 6th of May, 2007. It states as follows:
“Ahead of the May 29, 2007 swearing-in ceremony of the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua government, Vice President-elect and outgoing Bayelsa State Governor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has returned to school to prepare him for the challenges ahead. His destination is the prestigious Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Jonathan, who left the country last Wednesday will be attending a leadership programme partially funded by Ford Foundation… Jonathan will be tutored by some of the best scholars in leadership, development and public policy preparatory to his assumption of office as vice president.”
He anticipated that the mantle of leadership would fall upon him so he went in search of knowledge to prepare himself. This is the right response to the realisation that one would some day become a leader of one kind or the other.
Today we see younger people who say they are the leaders of tomorrow, but what do they do? They start clamouring that the older politicians leave the stage for them. And more often than not you could see ignorance written upon the faces of these so called young people. There is a form of ignorance that you can’t know a person has until you have a conversation with him, but there is this higher grade of ignorance that can be seen clearly written on the faces of those having it.
I have had a brief look at the profile of these people that are charged with incompetence (especially under Jonathan’s government), and their profiles are quite intimidating. Some schooled in some of the best university in the world having multiple accolades from numerous institutions of global repute. Yet, their level of learning and exposure couldn’t guarantee success in a country with peculiar challenges like ours. And shall these people whose best skill is to lead protests (unsuccessful ones) pilot this country into success? To even lead a protest to a successful conclusion is hard for them. How then shall they govern a country successfully?
The End SARS protest was a major demonstration of the crappy method of reasoning these people have. They led a protest, people died but nothing was achieved. One may rightly concluded that the high handedness of the military was responsible, but the mode of protest too was very wrong. I had expressed the rational course the protest should have taken in one of my Facebook posts which can be read HERE.
Sadly the course they took was so irrational, and sadder still is the fact that people lost their lives in the process.
Most times you’d see people talking bad about a government, they don’t usually have a clue of what governance is about. They think it is child’s play. They think they can do the job better. But they only realise the truth when they have already started subjecting the over 200 million people of our dear country to hardship.
So, all what we see in most of the so called youths of today are not the right responses to the knowledge that one is the leader of tomorrow. Rather, the right response is to go in search of knowledge, build one’s skill and with patience build one’s competence. The love for the nation ought to be one of the basis for this.
Before we go on, it is worthy of note that Goodluck Jonathan was a man who gained advancement in his political career by recommendation and circumstances. Not that he fought for the position. We have seen earlier how he came to power by providence and by steady degrees. So ought younger people ascend to power. Go after knowledge and serve, and let the works of your hand and the manifestation of your competency recommend you. If you’ve got a feeling that people don’t gain advancement by competence, still find your joy in the fact that you’re in pursuit of competence and that you are working not to disappoint should you be given the opportunity to serve the wonderful people of this country in any capacity.
Now to the Bible. When David, the best king in human history, reigned, their were a number of people who looked forward to reigning in his stead after his demise. There were probably many who had this ambition, but only two people showed there interest. One of those was Absalom, and the other was Adonija. But Solomon was chosen and didn’t strive for kingship. Absalom and Adonija strove to gain the kingdom by acts of desperation and they were both killed. These serve as an example of the wrong response to the possibility of being the leaders of tomorrow. Absalom was killed in battle, and Adonija was denied the throne by his father, David, and was later executed by Solomon. The right response to the knowledge that one is the leader of tomorrow is not desperation nor clamour. It is waiting. And in waiting pursue advancement in learning.
Of Solomon we hear little or nothing of desperation or clamour. Quiet and noble was his spirit. He sat still until by due procedure he was appointed king by his father, anointed by the prophet Nathan, and ascended the throne by high jubilations. At the times in which he was not yet made king we can’t know what exactly he was occupied with. Was he just eating and sleeping? Was he playing and whiling away his time in idle talk? We have no record in scriptures. But the things which he did after his ascension to power can enable us safely guess that he was engaged in much study and quest for wisdom.
David, his father, was also a man of wisdom, and I’m sure his wisdom must have been the root of Solomon’s wisdom. It was written of him in the days of his youth, “And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the LORD was with him.” (1 Samuel 18:14). Solomon himself acknowledge the profound wisdom of David his father when he said, “For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.” (Proverbs 4:3 – 5). He went on and on to say the things that David his father taught him. And I believe that from this place right up to chapter ten of the book of Proverbs were the very words of king David. From the first verse of chapter ten reads, ” The proverbs of Solomon…” (Proverbs 10:1), as though he’s just starting to write his own words after the narration of the things David his father told him. So David must have been a man of profound wisdom himself, only that he didn’t write them down like Solomon. He was more taken up in writing praise and prayer to God. So it is likely that while others were fighting for a throne that wasn’t theirs, Solomon was in pursuit of knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and developing himself.
When God asked him to request a favour from him, his prayer was simply wisdom. This further confirms the fact that he must have been in pursuit of wisdom and self development for it is he that is in search of wisdom that can see how high and lofty, and near unattainable it is. Only they can see the wondrous value of wisdom. Only such can be asked to request for something and the only thing they earnestly desire is wisdom. Above power, fame, wealth, and dominion, Solomon wanted wisdom to lead God’s people. When he requested this God was so touched and pleased to a surprised extent that he made him a promise to give him even those things which he didn’t ask of (1 Chronicles 1:7-12).
This forms the right response to the understanding that you are the leaders of tomorrow. Go after knowledge. Go after self development. Build your competence. Serve. Work with your hands so that when you’d get to that leadership position you’d understand what it is like for those working with their hands. If you skip service and jump into leadership you’d find yourself grossly incompetent. Today people often try to give so much praise for early achievements. You’d hear of the youngest this and youngest that. But don’t let that put you under any pressure to skip any of your developmental phases. Take your time in developing yourself and serving, and when the right time comes, the works of your hands and the wisdom of your ways shall recommend you.
The result of Solomon’s right response was success, prosperity, security, and tranquility. When the Queen of Sheba came to see Solomon she said, “… thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.” (1 Kings 10:7 – 9).
Our nation, Nigeria, has suffered from a host of past incompetent leaders. I’m not just speaking of presidents now but almost at every level. Don’t join their ranks. Stand out. Since you know you are the leader of tomorrow, choose the kind of leader you want to be. Don’t make their mistakes. Be a Solomon that will build a nation, not an incompetent leader that would cause untold sufferings. Don’t be part of those who can be likened to whips with which God is scourging the backs of the people of this great nation. Be a blessing of whom it would be confessed, “because the LORD loved Nigeria for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.” Be a blessing and not a scourge. And it is all up to you.
Why do I say it is up to you? There is one portion of scriptures that makes me laugh when I read it. It says, “Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?” (Proverbs 17:16). People often think that wisdom can be bought. They’re willing to pay a high price for it. But wisdom doesn’t come that way. You must have a heart to it. Wisdom is free to anyone who’d just reach out his hand and take it, you just need to have a heart for it. That is to have an earnest desire for it. So it’s all up to you.
Now, before I bring this article to a close, I would like to make some suggestions about sources of good wisdom and knowledge. I will still talk about this more fully, but let me briefly mention some. The first and foremost important source of wisdom is the Bible for two reasons. First it is inerrant and its words come from a position of authority. Seeing it is inerrant its wisdom can’t be matched so must be sought after above all knowledge and wisdom. And seeing it comes from a position of authority, that is from the creator to the created, it makes the knowledge of it imperative. It is therefore the only source of pure wisdom. Secondly, seeing how pure and inerrant the Bible is, it therefore serves as a fact checker. Every other thing that are presented to us by any means, whether by books, articles, sermons etc. must be brought back to the Bible and weighed by the pure wisdom of the Bible before one can decide whether or not it should be held or discarded.
Other sources of good wisdom for leaders are histories and biographies of past great leaders and high achievers. You can always get good resources from Project Gutenberg’s website, which is probably the best as it boasts of over sixty thousand free ebooks. Good audio books can be gotten from librivox.com. And a good YouTube channel to get biographies of great icons of the past is The People’s Profiles. There are countless other useful sources of such information. Then study on international standards such as those set by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). Their official website has a lot of free e-Publications that can educate on global standards which forms a good standard to focus on matching up to, that is in whatever field you find yourself. Do courses on management. I estimate leadership to be 85% management. So leaders of tomorrow should go after management skill. ISO also have their management standards. And go after knowledge in general. The Internet is teeming with free information for your consumption. By this means you shall find yourself become very competent and suitable to lead the world into greatness.
This is a mighty endeavour, but it is one that each citizen should be willing to make for the love of country and fellow citizen. It is a sacrifice because you must give something away to be able to achieve this. A whole lot of ease, amusements, unwise friends, and pleasures must be traded to attain this? But, like all sacrifice, it is a trade. You’re not giving this for nothing. Greater joy, satisfaction, fulfilment, admiration, and blessings from men awaits you if you choose this course of life. Ease, amusements, friends, and pleasures shall come but in another form better and sweeter than those you’ve lost. Ease that your skill and learning shall afford you. Amusements as you enjoy the work you do and in the study you engage in. friends with like minds that strive for excellence like you. The immense pleasures that comes with success and great achievements. Satisfaction from knowing that you are a source of blessing to yourself, family, church, and country. All these and much more shall be yours in the end.
May the great and mighty God grant you strength to pursue this mighty endeavour. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.
Prayer: Dear God and Father, help us as we embark on this mighty endeavour. Give us the will and the ability to pursue wisdom, knowledge and understanding. You have promised us to grant us wisdom if we ask it (James 1:5). And so we ask for it this day for it. Help us to be a people given to much healthy studies. This we ask in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.