Our topic today has its roots in the Book of Exodus. God wanted to send Moses on a special mission to liberate the Israelites to enable them fulfill their destiny. God was also keen to fulfill His promise to their ancestors. “What do you have in your hands?” God asked Moses. “A staff,” Moses answered. With that staff, Moses was able to do exploits and ultimately set free the Israelites and bring them almost to the promised land. As we begin the New Year, we are making New Year resolutions and setting goals. That is wonderful because we must plan and implement to succeed. To implement, you need the requisite skills or talents. Where are yours? They are your staff?
In the past few months, especially, there has been a wave of anger across the land because of misleading prosperity messages where people are misled into thinking they will become instantly rich without lifting a finger provided they sow seeds (donating money and providing material support to the church). The days of manna from heaven are over—just as manna stopped falling from heaven a day after the Israelites ate the fruits from the land of Canaan—because God has given us staff to strive and earn a living. I am focusing on the youths today because they have a longer future, all things being equal.
Like the “wicked and lazy servant” in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 24 – 28), many youths today have dug their talents (staff) in the ground. Yet they want to “hammer” (make big instant money). They take to internet fraud, gambling, rituals, kidnapping, armed robbery and other crimes. Even if you make the money, without a “staff” the money will go. And for how long can you commit crimes and get away? In no time you will be caught. Even if you are not caught, for how long can you carry on like that? It is very difficult to see people in their 40s and above in the field as armed robbers; you know why? It is because robbery operations will definitely go awry someday and when it does, they have no legs to run fast enough and stamina to run far enough. They will be caught and no armed robber wants to be caught. So resolve to get off crime now that you still have the opportunity; hone your talents/skills so that you can have a staff God will use to bless you.
I want to use this opportunity to appeal particularly to Delta State youths collecting stipends under the amnesty programme. Like those undergoing training, strive to learn how to fish, not this monthly fish you are receiving. It is very disappointing that able-bodied young men rely on monthly stipend and some others are threatening fire and brimstone and agitating to be part of the programme. What a shame? What a waste of life and talents? For how long can you live like that? You are living in a den of lions. The young lions are waiting in the wings until they are strong enough to depose the king of the pride and take over its territory and lionesses, which will inevitably happen one day. When you grow older and younger elements displace you, where do you go from there? Without a staff, you face an uncertain future, a future full of despair, disappointment, hopelessness, unfulfillment and misery.
It is unbelievable the depth we have descended to in Delta State. In the 70s and 80s, when we were growing up in the Midwestern Region ( later Bendel State) of which Delta State was a part, we were very proud people. We excelled in sports and academics. Every youth, even the rascally ones, wanted to excel; there was healthy competition. Bad governance and the mismanagement of the resource control agitation partly contributed to the mess we find ourselves today. Now many youths do not even know they have a staff in their hands. Many have innate gifts and abilities they have refused to develop; many who went to school cannot defend their certificates; they cannot write simple application letters, how then do they get jobs?
Everywhere you go, all you hear is “ose,” “nobody want help,” “who e help?” I have challenged a couple of youths: “Who you too don help?” the response I got is: “If I become big man today, I go help people.” They missed the point. Helping means giving and it is a way of life. Everybody can help somebody. If in your lowly state, you do not know that you can be of help to people, you are just a selfish person and will remain selfish when you become a big man. The Bible says he who is not faithful in little things will not be faithful in great things. The second aspect is even if somebody wants to help you, where is your staff? A friend narrated how the graduate son of his friend he wanted to employ could not answer basic SS1 physics question. Meanwhile, he is a graduate of geology!
I am an apostle of self-reliance. Ordinarily, the job of government is to provide the right environment for economic activities to strive, not necessarily to provide jobs. But our governments are failing in providing the right environment, not to talk of providing jobs. So, we cannot put our destiny in the hands of government, we need to work extra hard to succeed. The odds are already against us. Roll up your sleeves. Put a plan in place, get help where necessary (unfortunately, the only help many youths understand is money. They are not interested in professional guidance and mentorship which are more valuable than money), start polishing your talents and honing your skills. No fashion outlet displays or sells rough diamonds or gold. They only display the finished products. Nobody is going to pay for your raw talents. Your staff is your finished products. Get yours ready for display. There lies your economic emancipation. Happy New Year.