Reflections: The Jar of Life

Consider an Empty Jar to be filled with Golf balls, Pebbles, sand and Tea, which one goes in first?

Recognize but for a moment that The Jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the most important things – Family, Friends, Health and Your Passions. The pebbles are the second in line your Job, your Home, Education et.al. The Sand is everything else, really the small stuff…

Now if you put the sand first in the Jar, then you won’t have room for the golf balls and the pebbles. The same is true for your life, Of you spend all of your time and energy on the small stuff you won’t have time for the important things that matter.

Pay close attention to the things that are important and critical to your Happiness, take care of the golf balls – e.g. Show kindness to family, make time for them always.

Set your priorities right starting with the important things – golf balls. Then follow up with the pebbles and then everything else is just sand.

However, no matter how full your life is, there always is time for a cup of tea with the one who makes your heart beat – that one person.

Adopted from an old tale

Yours Truly,

Jalo

Growing In Character

Character

Proverbs 22:1 A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. This verse shows the importance of character in ones life. Especially a christian. It is on this verse that our mission to Kahuho Uhuru High School was hinged on.

In reviewing the message, I will base my writing in three sections; WHY is Character important to me as a follower of Christ? HOW do I develop my Character as a christian to be Christ like? – Which is the actual meaning of the word Christian. Finally, WHAT do I do to reflect Christ?

THE WHY: When God Speaks about me, what does He say? Can the Almighty boast about me like Job?

This question is addressed in reference to Job’s story, a man whom God was so proud of and well pleased with. Job stands out in God’s sight and He says; Job 1:8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”  So WHY? Because our Character distinguishes us. It is our walk in righteousness and obedience to God’s word that He takes pride in. As Christians, our Character ought to reflect the teachings of Christ. We must therefore strive to reflect and live the teachings of Christ. In so doing, when our heavenly father looks down, He is indeed well pleased.

Quote: When you have a good name, it sets you up for riches. A bad name on the contrary would result in loss of even what you have – Paul Wafula

Consider Job, the richest man in his time, yet his humility stands out both in the face of good and prosperous times and in the times of great tribulation. In his suffering, Job’s  Character is brought out as a man whose hope and trust is deeply rooted in the eternal God. Romans 5:1-5 Paul asserts that our faith and hope makes us glory in suffering for we know that our suffering produces Perseverance, and perseverance Character and Character Hope.

Quote: Through Pain, Character is developed-Paul Wafula 

Character2THE HOW: As a Christian, by what means do I develop Christ like Character? Does the Bible offer me any help?

Colossians 3:5-11 By putting to death whatever belongs to my earthly nature, and canal mind, my character is developed. The best way to exhibit good character is to behave to others as I would them behave to me, this is what love is about. When our hearts are full of love for one another, then our behavior, our character is informed by love as it is what dwells in our hearts.

Quote: Christian Character is not informed by Outward compulsion, but by inward conviction – Paul Wafula

By constantly filing our hearts with love, we ultimately express it in our daily character. It is a heart and mind full of love that will inform how we behave and act. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. So both our actions and words will be informed by love.

THE WHAT: As a Christian, what are my action points? After knowing WHY and HOW, so?

Galatians 5:22-26 When we belong to Christ, we crucify our flesh and its desires and passions. Since we now live by the spirit, we ought to keep in step with the spirit. The moment we as Christians realize WHY we need to be Christ like in our character, then the Holy Spirit would inform HOW we behave and treat others as well as situations and circumstances through WHAT we do.

It is WHAT we eventually do that shows who we really are deep down.

Quote: The Ultimate Good Character is exhibited when we love – Paul Wafula

Character4

In Summary, as Christians we:

  1. Always and Constantly examine ourselves against God’s standard
  2. Realize that some times Good Character Comes out of suffering and pain. That through difficulties we develop character.
  3. Need to realize that the Key To Christian Productivity is Character
  4. Must realize that we live for eternity.

QUOTE: If you live just for life, you are the most pitied person on earth. – Paul Wafula

IN RETROSPECT

“Life is suffering” – the first of Buddha’s ‘Four noble Truths’

“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” This phrase has always captured my attention since the first time I read M. Scott Peck’s book “The Road Less Travelled

I have always looked at life in retrospect. Sometimes I sit down and open my mind to the challenges of life and I have come to realise that it really is about a lot of things. Over time, I have come to challenge my own paradigms and views of life as I soldier on, however, one of the key things I have appreciated is that life is difficult…and  that It is not fair (By the way God is Not fair, He is JUST. Big difference! So stop crying around in search of pity and mercy about fairness and get tough. We will talk about that in The FOURTH PERSPECTIVE).

In life, we get what we bargain for and sometimes even that is taken away from us. In my daily life as a spectator and participants, I have learnt that four things are quite essential and here I will only discuss two: One being Discipline and the other Love. Why I choose these, you may ask, see, without discipline we can solve nothing but with discipline we can solve everything. As a kid, when mummy gave us food, sukuma wiki, Beef Stew and Ugali, most of us would start by eating Ugali and the Sukuma wiki, Delayed Gratification is a concept that we grasp early in life and it is an element of life that in retrospect spans all our actions. We then proceed to eat the beef stew as some sort of final celebration. Same thing with life, we as individuals must have the discipline to delay gratification. However, in today’s life, the youth especially are quick to want it all now. It is important that we learn that we must deal with life’s problems as soon as they present themselves and that gratification or success has a price to be paid. The greatest mistake we can make as individuals is to assume that problems will go away in their own accord. In relationships for instance, we must strive to pay the price for future gratification and long term happiness. When we make a conscious decision to be involved in one, then we as individuals must be willing and committed to it. Discipline, is what breeds commitment to a cause. In relationships just like in families, delayed gratification is a skill we learn and get to master over time. It requires a climate of great love (My second concept), self-worth, respect and security.  It is only when our partners feel secure, loved and Respected that they can make sacrifices for the relationships.

So what is Love? Many a people have tried to describe what love is. But for me, I will stick to the good book (The Bible). It says “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.”  This is the most comprehensive definition of LOVE I can find all the others are “SUBJECTIVE”.

When I look back at my life, I have come to realize that without Love we are nothing. The best place that I have experienced love is my Family. Looking back, I have come to realize that family forms the main unit where as individuals we come to know the essence (and our paradigm) of life. See, within the family unit, we experience unconditional love right from the time we step into the world but we must also realize that there are some of us who are not so lucky to experience this kind of love in their family. Ultimately, we as individuals must choose what we want in life because like the English poet William Ernest Henley says:

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll.

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

So looking back, I have realized that I need more Love and Discipline in my life. The Discipline to know the Truth, The discipline to Speak the Truth in Love, The discipline to Condemn in Love without Judgement and to always realize that in the final analysis I am the Master of my fate, I am the Captain of my Soul.

The 5th Perspective

Relationships are difficult and when things become a little challenging, we all have a tendency to rush in and try to give advice or fix things before taking valuable time to listen and diagnose the issue. Simple, the tricks is to always try and understand the other person then try to be understood. In relationships like in life, things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which least matter (Goethe). The most important ingredient each of us involved in a relationship can contribute is not what we say or do but who we are, if our actions , attitudes and reasons come from a superficial technique rather than an inner core of deep commitment our partners will see us for who we really are – well at least eventually.

One of the habits that Stephen Covey asserts in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is the fifth Seek first to Understand, Then to be understood. Most of us do not realize the reason as to why the good Lord gave us two ears and just one mouth. Empathic listening – Really trying to understand what the other person is communicating plays an important role in building strong relationships.  This is specifically important in relationships first when disagreements arise (they always will) and when opinions differ. Even with this, those in relationships must realize that synergy draws its energy and effectiveness from differences between people and that all the facets – Emotional, mental and psychological differences all contribute to this. It is only when couples value the differences in perception that they are able to transcend the limits created by their individual respective paradigms of life and the situation at hand.

In practicing the 5th habit, one of the most important aspects is that we make ourselves vulnerable as we give ourselves away to the other person. However, it is only when we truly make ourselves vulnerable that we are able to lower our guards and emphatically listen and understands.  Remember this, needs that are satisfied do not motivate us to action and similarly, each of us in the relationship must not move to solve a problem before ensuring that the other’s need of being understood has been fully met. Diagnose before you prescribe.

Finally, remember that whenever your partner has a problem and you really listen to understand them, you will be surprised at how fully he or she will open up to you. Empathetic listening is not easy, and takes time to learn and master, however, it is not nearly as costly and as much time-consuming as it will be to correct misunderstandings further down the road. Maturity, which is the balance between courage and consideration, is thus a major ingredient in practicing the Seek first to understand then to be understood principle. Seeking to understand requires consideration whereas, seeking to be understood takes courage.