Parenthood: The 1st Born

I was about 6 years old when I first found out that my dad gave me my name. Growing up knowing this fact was a great source of pride for me because like most boys, my dad was my hero and to think that my hero gave me my name – there was nothing cooler than that in my eyes. That was until I was much older and I asked him “Why did you name me Lundi?” His response was simply; ‘’ iiNtaba zakwaLundi zindikhumbuza ivesi ethi, ‘ Ndiwaphakamisele ezintabeni na amehlo am? Luya kuvela phi na uncedo lwam? Uncedo lwam luvela kuYehova, UMenzi wezulu nehlabathi’. ‘’ He was referring to Psalm 121:1-2 and though I didn’t fully understand at the time, knowing that I was the first sign of his strength and I reminded him of the source of his strength made me feel very grateful that I had asked him.

At 14:17 on January 11th, 2013 I became a father for the first time. When I first laid my eyes on him, he was literally a mini version of me. He even had my bald spot as a new born! Just much, much more adorable especially in our first family picture. My wife gave birth via C-section and my son was in breach which resulted in him having some amniotic fluid in his lungs. When the pediatrician told me this and that they would have to monitor him for the next 30 to 45 minutes to see how he handled breathing on his own before they decide to send him to Neonatal ICU (NICU), as a new father, this was a catastrophe. I was gripped by fear and found myself thinking, “Could I lose my son before I knew what it felt like to be a father? On second thought, that might not be such a bad thing if he doesn’t make it through this because it would just be as if it never happened and save me all the pain of losing a son”

My son and I left his mother in the delivery room as she was going through her post-operative procedure. When my son and I arrived at the maternity ward, it was just him and I in the nursery. Face to face with my son, I had the following question- what if this is the only time I have of being a father and my son dies? What sort of father would I be if I didn’t love my only son because I was afraid of getting hurt if he died? It was at this moment that I decided that I didn’t know how long I had with him but I was going to love him for every moment we had together.

Soon after I realized that his breathing looked uncomfortable for him but he just kept on taking in one breath at a time and then the next. It was at this moment that I realized my little guy was fighting for each breath and I admired that about him. So I began to encourage him and cheer him on. After about an hour of this he was starting to get tired so the pediatrician decided to give him some assistance by admitting him into NICU. By this time my wife was settling into her room in the maternity ward. I left the hospital just after 8pm that Friday. My son was making steady progress and I knew that he was going to pull through and it was just a matter of time before we would get the green light from the pediatrician. About 30 minutes after I left, my wife had gained enough strength to go see our son in NICU as she hadn’t seen him since his delivery in the theatre. During her time in NICU she kept me updated with the progress of my son’s breathing as he was now receiving less assistance from the machines.

A good friend of mine gave me a call to see if I was up to celebrating the fact that I had become a father that day. We met at Melrose Arch, JB’s Corner for a late supper. After a lengthy conversation and sharing my experience of my first few hours of fatherhood, we decided to head over to the Fire & Ice Hotel for a celebratory toast- Lagavulin 16 year Old Single Malt.

I got back home at about 02:30am and that’s when I realized that just before midnight I had received a text from my wife to tell me that our son would be discharged from NICU on Saturday morning. I was elated so I went into our bedroom to raise a hallelujah and preach myself a sermon. After singing some of my high school hymnals, I recited the following verses which I had held close to my heart during our pregnancy:

For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD.” So they worshiped the LORD there.” 1 Samuel 1:27-28 NKJV;

“Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain. Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.” Psalms 127:1, 3 NKJV. ““Reuben, you are my firstborn, My might and the beginning of my strength, The excellency of dignity and the excellency of power.” Genesis 49:3 NKJV

I spent all of my Saturday at the hospital with my wife and our son. Family and friends visited and shared in our joy.

I was woken up early on Sunday morning by an incoming call. It was my wife. Our son had had a restless night and that the nurses had not been as helpful as she needed them to be so she required me to come in much earlier than we had agreed.

On my drive to the hospital I couldn’t believe that here I was on the morning of day 3 of being a father and my wife was calling me in as help in her time of distress! I was very interested to see how this was going to play out as I thought I had nothing to offer. As soon as I walked in and after our customary greeting, my wife handed me our son and promptly proceeded to sleep.

So there I was with our baby boy in my arms and he wasn’t in the best of moods. What to do now ? “Sing him your favorite hymn” I thought to myself. And that’s exactly what I did. So after multiple renditions of ‘To God Be The Glory’ and walking up and down the room carrying my son in a rugby ball carry position (similar to an 8th breaking blind from a scrum) our son was finally fast asleep. He remained asleep for 4 to 5 hours which is an eternity for a new born (which I would soon realise as our son slept in 2-3 hour intervals for the first 6 months of his life).

With my wife and son asleep, I was able to enjoy the morning reflecting on the miracle that had just occurred. What was the miracle? In that moment of putting my son to sleep by singing my favorite hymn I realized that praise, worship & prayer are ways of bringing God Almighty into the details of our lives. This was a huge breakthrough for me because I realized that it did not matter that I didn’t have experience as a father, as long as I continued to bring God into the details of my journey as a father, He would lead and teach me to be the father He needed me to be for the son He had given me as a reward from my wife’s womb. In that same moment I realized that in the world, experience is ‘’everything’’ but how could I ever get experience beforehand of the future I had never lived? The lie (‘experience is everything’) was blown into smithereens. If one does not need prior experience to be a father, something so fundamental to human life, I concluded the following; when God presents you with blessings, opportunities and a calling, even if you may lack the know-how, rely on God because He is the source of that calling, blessing and opportunity. By virtue of Him being the source, He will teach, instruct and counsel you based on what He has seen. Basically all one needs to step into the future God has destined for them is to be on God’s side by allowing Him to rule your life. He will lead you into the future He created you for. My first born son had made an enormous impact on my life in just a mere 3 days of his life.

My sons name in isiXhosa means ‘He shall build the house of the Lord’. Prior to our pregnancy, my wife and I followed very different routines, which left very little opportunity for us to bond as a married couple and to develop new traditions and experiences. During our pregnancy we both noticed a change for the better in our routines and behaviours, such as going to bed at the same time and spending more of our time on week nights and weekends with one another. We realized that the child in my wife’s womb was helping us become one and truly build the life we promised each other on our wedding day, which led to the name that we would give our son.

Since my sons birth, my life has never been the same. His presence in my life revealed my self-centeredness and loving him helped me break free from that prison. My son teaches me forgiveness. If I accidentally hurt him during playtime, he is quick to forgive me, offer me a hug with a smile on his face. I am reminded of a time I accidentally hit him with a toy. In my moment of remorse, I offered him the opportunity to return the ‘favour’ to which he responded “No, you hit me by mistake and I forgive you” and he carried on playing.

Fatherhood is glorious so I encourage you to take a look and see all the riches your reward from heaven has brought you.

Deception

d+L=D *SFB*

d=doubt. L=Lie. D=Deception. S=Shame. F=Fear. B=Blame. This formula interpreted means that doubt + Lie results in Deception and the fruits of deception are Shame, Fear and Blame.

Do you currently feel any shame in your life? Is there a presence of fear which determines every thought & feeling you have, word you say and actions you take? Who are you blaming for all the undesirable things in your life? If your answer to any of the above questions is yes and there is someone or something that you apportion blame to, you’re living under deception. As per our formula to find out what led you to deception, you will need to look at how the doubt was created in your life. Doubt opens the door to a lie which is very difficult to uncover without first finding out what created the doubt in your life in the first place.

Let us get familiar with The Formula from the Garden.

We need to understand that doubt enters our lives to create uncertainty around what God has spoken into our lives (commanded). God’s commandment to the man is found in Genesis 2:16-17 NIV – ……’you are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’ The doubt created around this commandment is found in Genesis 3:1 NIV – …..He said to the woman,’’Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?’’ The doubt created by did God really say caused the woman to quote God’s commandment incorrectly (“but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” Genesis 3:3 NIV) and this opened the door for the serpent’s lie.

Now in order to discover & uncover the lie, you must observe any action you took that is contrary to the commandment i.e. ask yourself what did I not believe about the commandment from God? Remember that our beliefs drive and determine our thoughts and actions therefore shaping the way we live. The lie is found in Genesis 3:4-5 NIV – ‘’You will not certainly die,’’……’’For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’’

It is important to note that a Lie is a cocktail mixture of lies, half truths and truth. This makes it very difficult for us to discern when we are being lied to or discerning the lies that are prevalent in our society. Let’s take a closer look at Genesis 3:4-5 NIV to discover the practical application. In verse 4, ‘You will not certainly die’ is a lie because in Genesis 2:17 NIV God said “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” The first part of verse 5, “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened is true. The second part of verse 5, and you will be like God knowing good and evil is a half truth because it implies that the only thing that separates human beings from God is the knowledge of good and evil (which implies that human beings have an eternal soul). Genesis 3:22 NIV confirms the truth found in verse 5 and sheds light on the half truth and it reads as follows; “And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” i.e. eating from the tree of life would give human beings an eternal soul.

What impact did the Lie have on the woman? In Genesis 3:6 NIV we see that “… the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, but this was not new. It was always this way as confirmed in Genesis 2:9 NIV (“The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” It is clear then that what drove the woman’s actions is that she thought she would gain wisdom – Genesis 3:6 NIV in its entirety reads as follows “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” (i.e. in her thinking wisdom is what God was withholding from her which prevented her from being like God). Notice that the serpent clearly said ‘knowledge of good and evil’ and not wisdom. There is a big difference between wisdom and knowledge. Wisdom is reverence for God and the right application of knowledge which results from humanity (individual human beings) being in a relationship with God. Knowledge on the other hand is knowing without application which results from the current human condition where the majority of human beings believe they are gods and that knowledge is power.

How do I conclude that d+L=D? Let us look at God’s and humanity’s (Adam & Eve’s) response to Adam & Eve’s disobedience to God’s commandment. Humanity’s response is found in Genesis 3:7-8 NIV, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”

Essentially humanity covered themselves up and hid from God. God’s response is found in Genesis 3:9 NIV, “But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”” God responded to humanity’s disobedience by seeking humanity to find and meet them where they had chosen to hide themselves. After God had asked the question ‘Where are you?’, the man and the woman responded to God and this is found in Genesis 3:10-13 NIV. We start with the woman’s response in Genesis 3:13 NIV, “Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”” The doubt + Lie resulted in Deception. Therefore when we are under Deception we cannot obey God’s commandments and thus fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.

Let us now look at the fruits of Deception. Remember the fruits of deception are shame (S), fear (F) and blame (B). Let us start with shame. Humanity’s (Adam & Eve’s) response is found in Genesis 3:7-8 NIV. When their eyes were opened they felt shame for the first time so they covered themselves with leaves and hid from God. Note that shame causes humanity to cover themselves up and hide themselves from God. Humanity today responds to God in exactly the same way that Adam & Eve responded to God after they had disobeyed him. It appears that with all the much celebrated technological change and advancement in science and medicine in our society, human nature has not changed. How do I know that Adam & Eve felt shame for the first time after they disobeyed God? The answer is found in Genesis 2:25 NIV, “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”

A closer look at fear. In Genesis 3:10 NIV the man responded to God after God had asked ‘Where are you?’ and said “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Four things to note from Adam’s response; (1) he heard God in the garden, (2) he was afraid (fear), (3) his fear was caused by the realization of his nakedness and (4) he hid from God. This was not the first time Adam was hearing God but this time he was fearful after hearing God in the garden. Adam was naked all along so was his fear really caused by his nakedness or was his fear caused by the fact that when he was separated from God (spiritual death as a result of disobeying God by eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil) he finally realized the reality of his situation which made him fearful of being naked in the presence of God? The fear of being naked in the presence of God resulted in him hiding himself from God. Please note; fear gives us an incorrect perspective on the reality that has always been there (the reality: Adam and Eve were naked and felt no shame in the presence of God and the incorrect perspective: now that we are naked how can we be in the presence of God? and so they hid themselves from God) and it causes human beings to keep themselves away from God. God’s response to Adam’s answer is found in Genesis 3:11 NIV, “And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”” God’s questions reveal the following ; (1) who has Adam ceded God’s authority to speak into his life to? (2) fear that causes us to hide from the presence of God enters our lives when we disobey God’s commandment (breach God’s protective boundary for us).

Adam’s response to the above questions lead us into the third fruit of deception which is blame. Look at Adam’s response below in Genesis 3:12 NIV, “The man said, “The woman you put here with meshe gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”” Adam blames God and the woman for eating the fruit. Adam completely removes himself from the response-ability of keeping the commandment God gave him in Genesis 2:15-16 NIV (“And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”” Response-ability is the God given ability to each and everyone of us to choose an appropriate response to any given situation. God gives us this ability through his commandments. Please note; whoever and whatever you blame does not relieve you of the response-ability you have to fulfill in a given situation.

Before I conclude this chapter, let us look at the consequences of Adam and Eve’s disobedience on humanity. Genesis 2:17 NIV is the truth and Genesis 3:4 NIV is the lie, how did Adam and Eve die because they had a conversation with God after they ate the fruit they were commanded not to eat? They died spiritually (separation from God) as found in Genesis 3:23-24 NIV. The man and the woman were created spiritually first (Genesis 1:26,28,31) and then were physically formed (Genesis 2:5,7, 21-22 NIV) therefore when Adam and Eve die, they died spiritually first and then physical death followed i.e. humanity in the present age – have died spiritually and physical death awaits. Therefore in the beginning humanity was created in relationship with God: spirit – soul (thoughts & emotions) – body (actions). The relationship between God and humanity was severed when Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the forbidden tree. As a result humanity now exists as: soul (thoughts & emotions) – body (actions). Humanity in this current age is preoccupied with human thought, emotions and actions to transform the human condition but these may change the human condition (from a technological, scientific and medical perspective – lifestyle comforts) but they cannot change the nature of humanity because human thought, emotion and action is centered on the physical realm only. When humanity brings up spirituality, its focus is limited to how spirituality can change our physical conditions. This is a very limited view of spirituality.

To conclude this chapter, I will bring to your attention the consequences God gave the serpent, Eve and Adam after Eve had responded to him as follows; “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Their consequences are found in Genesis 3:14-19 NIV. For the purposes of this booklet, we will focus on the serpent’s curse: “So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.””

Please note; this is the third chapter from a booklet I am working on. I recently shared it at our last Conversation With Men on the 3rd of March 2020 so I thought I should share it with the rest of the world as I believe many of us are under deception. My hope is that by reading this; you will discover the depth of deception in your life and awaken to the truth. More life and power to you!

Mistakes

The 29th of July 2017 was the first day of my transition after I had decided to lay down the corporate career I had idolized for 12 years. I called the journey ‘My transition from being driven to succeed to being called to a life of significance’. At the beginning of my journey I understood the difference between success and significance to be as follows; success is all about getting, in my case – the recognition, the promotion/s and all the fun toys and activities that come with it and significance is simply making a contribution i.e. giving of oneself.

I have made a plethora of mistakes in my life and though I’m not done making mistakes, I am very grateful I have discovered my biggest one. My journey of transition was something I had never done before – in all honesty I thought I was just taking a 6 month sabbatical- so I knew I needed God’s presence and wisdom during that time. I’m very big on personal development – spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and physically so I always strive to learn new knowledge and skills. After having kept the same 12 hour work day routine for the last 12 years, I definitely needed a new routine for my sabbatical. I structured my new routine around the Rivers Church Discipleship College on Tuesday evenings where I registered for 2 courses; The Wisdom Books of the Bible and Growing Big People. These courses covered my Tuesdays for the months of August and September. By the end of 2017 I had read through the book of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon. My Tuesday and Thursday mornings were spent at the Rivers Foundation where I was volunteering for the school feeding scheme and helped to prepare and deliver sandwiches to the various schools supported by the foundation. Due to my flexible time schedule, I also volunteered for other initiatives at the foundation- Christmas parties for under privileged preschools and providing meals at an old age home in Alex, Johannesburg. In August I picked up the habit of going to gym again – my last visit to gym was in March 2017 . I had picked up weight since then and I was sitting at a comfortable 112.5kg. By the end of December 2017 I had lost 3kgs (as I write this blog in December 2019, I now weigh 91.4kg). Being at home meant I spent more time with our sons – playing with them after school, attending their swimming lessons and other activities I couldn’t do as much before my sabbatical. Being on a sabbatical meant that I was able to be a lot more attentive and supportive to my wife. A great thorn in her life at the time was her stressful corporate job and the only way I could help was by asking her to join me on the sabbatical so that we could figure out our lives together. I felt very strongly that this was a journey we needed to do together so on the 29th of December 2017, my wife began her sabbatical and we were in it together. I had some conventional fun too during my last 6 months of 2017 and the highlight was my first visit to Anfield in October where my beloved Liverpool were playing the Mancs and the beauty of it is that I did the trip with my best man who is a Manc.

My biggest mistake was having an idol on God’s altar instead of having God firmly placed on his altar in my life. In my case the idol was my career. My identity was anchored in my career. My decision to do a particular activity or spending time with someone was determined by how much time and energy I would have left to devote to the development of my career. As a result my relationships suffered. In essence, I was worshiping money and the reality is that what we worship reflects who we serve.

It’s now December 2019 and I have discovered in my season of transition (especially in the last 7 months) that my life is significant because of God and that God is at the center of my life – my heart, soul & mind. As a result, everything else in my life has fallen into its rightful place. God is the one who makes life significant. Human beings are created in his image and likeness. Jesus Christ’s life, death on the cross and his resurrection is the way to restoring his image and likeness in us. Believing what God says about Jesus Christ changed my mind about God and now I truly seek to live a life that is pleasing to him. By God’s love and grace, Holy Spirit is transforming me that I may test and approve what God’s good, pleasing and perfect will is.

What is the idol you have placed on God’s altar? Do you realize that your idol is robbing you from truly knowing who God is? When you don’t know God, how can you ever find the purpose for which he created you for?

A generation worth of breaths

I say life is lived one breath at a time, one moment leading into another. Are you grateful for the breaths that you have been given? The thing with gratitude is that it is extended to someone else and if there’s no one to be grateful to, there’s no one to honor. However, if you receive them as a gift then you are grateful and appreciative to the one who has given you breath – life. The question for you is; how do you honor God through the breaths He has given you?

This past Wednesday was my 40th birthday which means I’ve lived a generation worth of breaths so what follows are the things I’m grateful for at 40 🙂 I once read that a bullet listed article is like fast food for the brain but I sincerely hope that this blog is like a certain fast food chain that’s in the business of making healthy food fast!

1. Love – thank you Heavenly Father that you created me from love, for love that I may experience an abundance of love in a relationship with you first & foremost and then with your other children.

2. Parents – thank you Heavenly Father for my parents. A father whose life lived before my eyes showed me what it means to be a man. A mother whose teaching I’ve kept close to my heart.

3. Grandparents – thank you Heavenly Father that grandchildren are the splendor of the aged because a big part of my great childhood is due to my grandparents.

4. My good thing called Yolo – because of her presence in my life I have favour from You and our LoveThang is a StrongThang.

5. Falling in love in the summer of ‘99 in Cape Town.

6. My sons – the first sign of my strength for showing me how I can bring You into the details of my daily life as I adapted to being a father for the first time. My 2nd son’s birth for making me realize that I had to grow in You in order to raise them as mighty men of valor! Because of their lives, my parents now enjoy their splendor.

7. The world’s best siblings – the younger (by 6 years) brother I look up to. Thank you for the friendship, recommending the following books; Think and Grow Rich, Simple & Sinister and your lovely wife for a sister in law (BTW my sons bafe fi nguMom’Ncinci – besotted with their aunt). My youngest sister (by 13 years), thank you for the friendship – it’s kept me young and hip, the life changing gifts you get me for birthdays & Christmas and being the coolest Dabs (aunt) to my sons.

8. Friendship – as iron sharpens iron. Thank you for all those I’ve been fortunate enough to call my friends. And to my homie, my ace – thank you for honoring my Heroes 2015 invite because it was at that conference I realized that you and I have a David&Jonathan relationship.

9. My mistakes

10. My Smile

11. Saying hello!

12. Speaking life into other people’s lives

13. Laughing often

14. Hugs and kisses

15. Being vulnerable

16. I’m South African

17. I’ll never walk alone

18. Swinging a kettlebell

19. Sleep

20. Food

21. The firsts that await me in the next year 🙂

What are you grateful for today?

Marriage

They say that when one finds love, it comes like perfect weather

As your love found my love and mine found yours back in the summer of ‘99

Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways

I love you with the length, breath and height my soul can reach

I love you more than yesterday and less than tomorrow

I don’t know what our souls are made of but yours and mine are the same.

I shall be great and you rich because we love each other.

Those were the words I said to my wife at our wedding reception on the 25th of September 2010. A compilation of my favorite lines from the poems I was reading leading up to our wedding day. Why did I choose these specific lines? I simply loved how they shaped the future my wife and I were walking into that day. Let me explain.

They say that when one finds love, it comes like perfect weather As your love found my love and mine found yours back in the summer of ‘99 – the first time I saw my wife was her walking into Sports & Leisure at Circus Triangle eMthatha (where I worked during my school holidays from grade 9 to 11) with her cousin. I was like, “Whoa man – she’s gorgeous!!!” She was at DSG in Grahamstown, a three term school and I was in King William’s Town, a four term school- I didn’t see how this would work. So all I did that day was greet them both but I knew as she left that one day she would have me. Over the next couple of years she befriended my boys (the crew that I rolled with every time the baby blue van came around, – reminiscent of Warren G) but interestingly enough I was never around most of the times they hung out with one another. On the two occasions I was around, I was very incognito (strategically). I would formally introduce myself to her in the summer of ‘99 when a mutual friend was having a “home alone” and a couple of our friends were hanging out so I decided to join them because she was there. We would hangout everyday that festive season and to top it all off, my boys and I had planned to be in Cape Town for New Years and she so happened to have had the same plans. Though we had made separate plans to be in Cape Town, we ended up staying at her cousins’ flat (one of her male cousins who stayed at the flat was a friend and the other cousin was the one I had first seen my wife with all those years before!). This was clearly set up to be the best holiday ever as a bachelor and it was because I had always dreamt of falling in love in Cape Town and coming up to Joburg together to make money.

I love you with the length, breath and height my soul can reach – I love her with my entire being and that means my love for her will shape how I live the rest of our lives together.

I love you more than yesterday and less than tomorrow – My love for her is a growing love, a love that grows with time.

I don’t know what our souls are made of but yours and mine are the same – we are spiritually yoked. Although we didn’t date in a Godly way (premarital sex and the drunken parties) God’s other boundaries that we respected and obeyed ensured that we were one spiritually which gave our relationship a solid foundation making our ‘LoveThang’ a ‘StrongThang’. For example, we had agreed that we wouldn’t have children or move in together before we got married. Although I bought myself my first Bible as an adult in 2005 I didn’t go to church in Joburg and my wife went sporadically. When she did invite me to church, I would go with her because I wanted her to know that I did believe in God. Yes, I was deceived thinking I could pick and choose God’s commandments but I thank God for his unfailing love that pursues us daily and his boundaries (commandments) that protect us from ourselves. We’re celebrating 9 years of marriage today because spiritually we are surrendered to God individually and as a couple God is at the center of our marriage.

One Friday evening, I asked her for her older brother’s number who lived eMthatha (both my wife’s parents have passed on) and I informed him that I had written a letter to ‘ooMawawa’ (her clan name) that ‘ ooSweleba’(my clan name) were requesting the 14th of February 2009 to discuss a certain matter that we would disclose on the day. Yolz & I flew down to eMthatha on the 13th and once we were eMthatha we didn’t communicate or see each other until the Saturday afternoon when she was asked by oonozakuzaku bakhe (her delegation of uncles for the lobola negotiations) “Uyabazi ababantu?”(Do you know these people- referring to my delegation of lobola negotiators) at which she answered yes! That is the story of how we got engaged.

How could I start the lobola negotiations without having asked my girlfriend to marry me first? I had been dating her for a very long time – 9.5 years at the time of our engagement- and I knew her well enough to know that she was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and that she wanted the same thing. Through our dating years we had become best friends- we truly enjoyed each other’s company and we would discuss everything under the sun. Sharing stories from our childhoods (that helped us establish important similarities between us) and painting pictures of the family life we would have one day. The game changer I learnt from her was that a disagreement doesn’t need to lead to a break up. This changed how I communicated with her – comm (find common ground), uni (I), cate (cater to her needs) and really seek to understand rather than being understood. One thing she learnt from me was that something that is good for her may not be good for the relationship so we both learnt to make decisions that were in the best interest of our relationship. That way making decisions that were for the good of the relationship forced us to grow and made us less self centered.

I shall be great and you rich because we love each other – our love for each other has been the key to experiencing all that God has in store for us in the glorious institution of marriage.

In Awaken to….Love (https://awakenonline.blog/2019/02/20/love/) I shared that I read the book of proverbs a number of times when I was 14 even though my dating experience was influenced by the hip hop culture I was into at the time. As it turns out, the verses from Proverbs that were etched in my heart created boundaries. The boundaries that I breached helped me know when I was straying too far and headed for self destruction and the ones I lived within helped to establish a solid foundation for married life. The big one I breached was having sexual partners before marriage but now I know why that is a big boundary. Sexual partners are not just a physical experience but they are a spiritual connection too so the more sexual partners you have the more pieces of yourself you leave with other people. By the time you get married – how much of yourself is left for your spouse or how many people are you bringing with you into your marriage bed? The more sexual partners one has before they get married is similar to an overused piece of cello tape. What happens when you cut a piece of cello tape and stick it to one surface, remove it and stick it to a second surface and repeat that until you hit the 5th surface? The cello tape may stick to the 2nd & 3rd surfaces but it won’t stick to the 5th and so is a person with multiple sexual partners- they are eventually unable to be in a healthy monogamous relationship with anyone. The one proverb I always kept in mind was the one about letting my fountain be blessed and rejoicing with the wife of my youth. At 39 years old, I’ve been with her for 20 years and my heart is still rejoicing.

Cultural opinion states that marriage is outdated but if the culture really believed this, people would simply stop getting married but something still attracts them to the beauty of the institution of marriage but they don’t know Who. I’m here to tell you that it’s the glorious beauty of its creator, God Almighty. Remember God is love. His word teaches us that his love is agape (unconditional), felia (friendship), storge (family) and eros (sexual love) and that the relationship of marriage between a man and a woman is the only relationship on earth that offers these 4 qualities of his love. I encourage you to invite the creator of marriage into your marriage and let him transform you into a better spouse as your marriage becomes a glorious reflection of his beauty!

Woman

Whoa-Maan! Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called Woman. That is the reason why man cannot be separated from woman because she was taken out of man. Our entrance into this world is inseparably tied to a woman hence our mothers will always hold a special place in our hearts especially if our introduction to this world was followed by a loving relationship with them. It is the 9th of August 2019 which is also known as Woman’s Day in South Africa so I would like to honour some of the women who’ve given of themselves to make me the man that I am today.

The first lady I would like to honour is my grandmother who I affectionately called uMama until the day of her passing in July 2009. She lived such a large life, full of love and dedicated to serving others that her life lived before my eyes became my definition of leadership. She loved people and she served them mainly through her teaching. She was a teacher by profession but her teaching was not limited to the school curriculum.

I spent many Saturdays with her seated on the floor at the living room coffee table while she was preparing for her upcoming classes for the following week simultaneously teaching me how to read, write and to use a pair of scissors. As a result of this experience with her, I now do the same thing with my sons. When I was in grade 4 she taught me how to study. When there was a test due, she would make me study in one of the bedrooms while she, my granddad and the rest of the family were seated in the living room watching TV. In order to ensure I was studying in the room and not playing, she made me read the material out loud so she could hear me from the living room. My first test result after using this method was 84% at which she quipped – “uyabo’, indlela opasa ngayo xa ufundiswa ndim” (loosely translated, you see how well you do when you study my way). So it was settled, I would read aloud every time I studied until I finished matric. When I went to boarding school in grade 8 the volume became a whisper so that I could still hear my voice and not disturb the other students in prep too much. 4 years ago I discovered that reading out loud was a good way of practicing public speaking so I appreciated my gran’s approach even more because I realized I had been developing the skill of public speaking since grade 4.

As I grew older, there’s nothing I loved more than listening to my gran. From the moment I would walk in and greet her, she would start talking and I would listen for hours on end. I miss our conversations the most. Another thing l loved about her was her hustle and grind. One of the many things she said to me in my adult life that stuck with me was – “nimathile! ukuba bendina lamathuba ninawo, ngedi kude” (loosely translated, if I had the opportunities you guys have…….). This was coming from a woman who was a founding member of two junior secondary schools (one in Welkom and the other eMthatha) and a pre-school eMthata!

On the 14th of February 2009 I got engaged to my wife and in April my gran visited our place for the first time as she had come up to Joburg for my uncles 50th birthday celebrations. After I showed her around the place, we shared a cup of coffee. As she reflected on mine and one of my cousins (eldest granddaughter) achievements at that point (careers, homes, spouses and my cousins children), she then asked “Ndisaphilela ntoni” (loosely translated, “What more does one have to live for”? )I was silent as I realized my gran was ready to meet her creator and as much as I wanted to tell her that we needed her and we were not ready to let her go, I couldn’t bring that up and ruin the peace she had as she shared that thought. That was the last time I would see her alive. All in all, I am grateful that I had her as my grandmother and the pattern she laid now continues with my sons and their grandmother.

The second lady on the list is my mother, who affectionately calls me uToto (her little one). She’s been very intentional about my transition from being her ‘little one’ to becoming someone’s husband. For example, when my sister was moving to Johannesburg she was adamant about my sister getting her own place so that my wife and I would not have somebody else living with us as we adapted to living together. She welcomed my wife with an open heart into her family. When she is asked how many children she has, my wife and my sister-in-law are included in the count. When I was 14 she noticed I had an interest in girls so she told me two things, one – don’t ever date an older woman because she’ll try to mold you into the man who wouldn’t have broken her heart. Second, the only girlfriend of mine she would meet is the one I was going to marry because meeting any other girl other than the one I was going to marry would open the door of comparison which will not be good for the woman that I do marry. I took her advice and never dated an older woman and only introduced her to my wife.

I have always loved the fact that I have a young mom – she’s only 20 years older than me but now I realize what has made her young is that she has a young heart and a great passion and love for people. She knew at an early age that she would grow up to be a social worker when she realized at the age of 9 how a different type of shoe can enable a person who’s handicapped to gain their personal power back and greater independence. In her teens she used every opportunity she had where she could help someone who was in need. For example when a friend of hers was going through a very rough patch with her abusive father she organized for her friend to stay with her and my grandparents as things cooled over or when she organized for my granddad to buy a classmate a pair of school shoes every year in high school until they matriculated rather than have a friend go to school barefoot. An eye for spotting people in need and finding a way to meet that need is something she started in her teens and now has continued into her sixties.

My mom was very good at re-affirming my good behaviour and when she affirmed something I wasn’t aware of that helped me develop a great sense of self awareness at a very young age. One such occasion is when she was in conversation with her friends and my brother and I were playing within hearing distance of their conversation and she mentioned that my brother and I had no comparison or competitive issues between us and I enjoyed something bought for my brother as if it was bought for me.

I also learnt from her that a detailed response is required whenever I’m in conversation with a woman. The incident that etched this in my mind is when my dad and I drove to Qumbu to go tow a car back to eMthatha. So naturally when we got back my mom asked my dad how the trip was and my dad responded- akhonto ibitheni (loosely translated, uneventful). Since I was right there, my mom turned to me and asked – Toto, belunjani uhambo lwenu? And I didn’t waste anytime getting into my field report- on our way there, we were stopped by the traffic cops because dad was speeding and this made him furious, we eventually got the car and the guy who was helping dad tow the car kept on slamming the breaks too hard which broke the rope a couple of times which infuriated my dad even further but they eventually figured it out and here we are. And my mom turned to my dad and said now that’s an appropriate answer to the question how was your trip. But now that I am a husband and a father, I totally get why at times the best answer is the shortest and I imagine my dad was thinking to himself as I rambled on – ‘you’ll get it one day’.

Up next is my nanny who arrived at my grandparents place when I was 6 months old and would spend the next 32 years with us. She was part of the family. She was not just my nanny- she was a playmate and a friend, a confidant. When I grew up I didn’t have a nursery but I shared a room with my nanny and she would read the Xhosa bible to me before I went to sleep most nights. I remember the first time I attended her church on one Sunday morning. It was eventful- there was singing, dancing in a circle to the beat of the drums and everybody wore the same outfit. So when I got back to my grandparents place everyone was interested in how I had found church that morning. My simple answer was – ndinesiyezi (I’m dizzy) and I slept for most of the afternoon exhausted from the dancing. Towards the tail end of 2010 shortly after she had witnessed the start of my marriage she became very ill so when she was hospitalized in early January 2011 I flew from Joburg to eMthatha to see her. I arrived late on Friday so on Saturday morning my mom, her two sisters and I went to the hospital to pay my nanny a visit. She was visibly excited when she saw us walk into the ward but that moment could not hide the pain and suffering she was going through. It was hardly an hour after we had left the hospital that my mom received the call to inform her that she had passed on. I am grateful to God for giving me one last moment to see her before He ended her pain and suffering.

When my wife was pregnant with our first born we started thinking about the kind of nanny we required to help us raise our son. My wife also had a very similar experience with her nanny as I had with mine so we were clear that we were looking for someone who would create that kind of a relationship with our son. We were in agreement of the kind of person we were looking for so my wife had the honour of doing the interviews and selecting a nanny for our son.

She started 6 weeks after our son was born and I got to meet her that evening after I got home from work. It was apparent very early on that she was good with children and that she was developing a deep affection for our son. One of the first things that amazed me about her was that she spoke non-stop whenever she was with our son except when he was sleeping. My wife and I were taking bets with each other about how soon our son would start talking as a result of his interaction with her.

It is now six years later and she has become a member of our family. Now she’s the nanny to our two boys and they’re both besotted with her (our sons are 3 years and 5 days apart) and they affectionately call her Lolo. Recently our nanny took a 2 week break and my wife and sons went to go drop her off at Park Station and it was very tough for my oldest son saying goodbye to her for a whole two weeks that he cried all the way home that day. So when her break was over and I went to go pick her up at Park Station while my wife took our boys to school, our youngest says to his older brother, ‘Lolo is back but no crying when you see her okay’. One of the best things about Lolo is that she said she would only accept her job as our nanny only if we would give her Saturday afternoons and Sundays off. She is devoted to the Methodist church and her Saturday afternoons and Sundays are dedicated to the Lord and His church. I say this is the best thing about her because firstly, she is serving the Lord and secondly, her condition of employment created the right environment for us to grow into our roles as new parents by spending time with our son and start building a family culture that is suitable for raising young and maturing souls. By the time our second son came along, spending the amount of time we spend together was second nature. Without the environment created by her condition of employment, we wouldn’t be calling our family the Awesome Foursome (and when Lolo is around, it’s the Fantastic Five). It’s an amazing blessing having Lolo as part of our family because she loves our boys as her own and she gives my wife and I priceless support as we continue to build our young family.

A woman gives life and colour to everything she touches – buy a house together and she makes it a home, buy some groceries and she makes a meal, tell her an idea and she transforms it into a vibrant and elaborate vision. What is your favorite memory about a woman who’s played or is currently playing a pivotal role in your life?

The Next Generation

The next generation is the future of this country and what are we giving them to prepare them for the future that they’re meant to lead?

Father’s Day 2019 in South Africa fell on Youth Day, June 16. As the focus of this blog is about our youth, the next generation, I would like to first honour those who take their roles as fathers very seriously and make a plea to those who have abandoned this high calling to reconsider their ways.

For the first six years of my life the man I knew as my father was my granddad. He was a tall and handsome gentleman and although I’m not tall, I have his genetics to thank for my frame. There are lots of wonderful memories I have of my granddad and of us doing things together. He taught me how to work a VCR and would reward me with a packet of simba chips and a guava juice every time I washed his car, the Dutson Stanza. My grandfather was a police general & paid attention to his appearance which meant I also got a weekly haircut & trim whenever he got his. He would also ask me to help him slaughter a sheep, just the two of us – the man was my hero because let’s face it, I didn’t do much of the slaughtering except the auxiliary staff. My favorite quality of his though was his simplicity and that’s a quality of his I carry with me to this very day.

During the first six years of my life I also knew my biological father but I referred to him as ‘ubhuti’ as I thought he was my much older brother. When I turned six, my grandmother sat me down and told me that she and my granddad were my grandparents and that usisi (my mom who I referred to as my older sister) and ubuthi were my parents. From that day onwards things changed for the better, I now had a double portion of parents. I started noticing some similarities and differences between my dad and granddad which I hadn’t noticed before. Like how they put on their belts – my dad would always put the belt on his pants before he wore them and my granddad would put on his pants and then put on his belt (I thought this was a much cooler way to put on a belt because my granddad did it without looking at the hoops). If I grab a shower and get dressed at home, I put on my belt like my granddad but if I grab a shower at the gym in the mornings, I put on my belt like my dad. Another example is how they polished their shoes – my granddad would have his polished every day (he wore the same pair Monday to Friday) and my dad would polish all his shoes on a Saturday morning. When I started working, I had one pair of work shoes and I would polish them on weekends emulating my father. From these examples it is plain to see that children learn a lot in life and pick up their behavioral patterns from their fathers so if you’re an absent father, do you know who is the male influence in your children’s lives? Is your absence in your children’s lives setting them up for a great future?

Among the many great things I learnt from my dad, knowing that I was his son and that he was my dad, the relationship we have has had the biggest impact on me and it continues to do so. What I learnt from him is what he showed me by living his life in front of me and modeling what it is to be a man for me. If you’re not able to live with your children for whatever reason, I encourage you to make every effort to have a relationship with them. Some of the frightening statistics around children who grow up with absent fathers are that if they are not fatally abused in childhood, they will have learning and developmental disabilities and are most likely to end up as criminals. Why should we expect the next generation to be excited about the future when the odds have been so heavily stacked against them by their own biological fathers?

Another important aspect for the well-being of our children that we need to consider as men is our relationship with their mothers. When mom and dad are together it is best for our children. If you have not made a life long commitment to the mother of your child should you be bringing a life into this world which requires a life long commitment from the both of you? When we as men no longer consider the relationship between a man and a woman as sacred, we will surely fail to see the child’s needs as sacred especially when it comes to children needing both parents. This failure to commit to the woman who carries our seed is a contributing factor to two of the most prevalent things that increase father absence from our children’s lives in the 21st century, divorce and non-marital childbearing. Another less known fact about the impact of divorce on men is that the law doesn’t consider their parental rights and the child’s need for both parents as it considers the woman’s rights in the matter. Therefore, as a result we have a lot of men who desire to be active fathers in their children’s lives but are not able to do so. A change in the South African legislature will help to ensure that in the absence of a spousal relationship, both mother and father responsibilities to their children are protected. My friend at Children Need Both Parents is putting in a lot work to help bring about this change so if the importance of fathers in children’s lives is important to you, do all you can to support this great initiative.

While we wait for the legal framework to change, let us as men take control of what we can control. A renewed commitment to be active fathers in our children’s lives because this will give them the social and emotional wellbeing that is often overlooked when we speak of the future that awaits the next generation.

Authority

At first glance submission and authority are the perfect polarity until one realizes that there’s a causal relationship between the two.

The results of our most recent national elections have been finalized for a couple of weeks now so the question is; have those who have been elected to power submitted to the needs of the country and its citizens? This raises another question which needs to be considered before we can answer the first and that question is why do people vote? I was first eligible to vote in the 1999 national elections but I did not vote because the person I was going to vote for was obviously going to be elected president. I distinctly remember the conversation I had with my dad over the phone when I told him that I didn’t vote- he was silent but I heard his disappointment loud and clear. At this point I realized that choosing to vote or not based on who I thought was going to win was not the right thing to do. At the next elections in 2004 I cast my vote for the first time and I expressed my opinion on who I was backing to lead my beloved South Africa as its president. In the aftermath of the 2009 elections I would learn another important lesson- do not use fear to determine who to vote for. As a result of the fear I had regarding some uncertainties on economic policy I had split my vote for national and provincial governments across two political parties. The fear was an indication that I was unprepared to cast the vote and I should have educated myself on the uncertainties I had regarding economic policy so that I wouldn’t split my vote. It is now 20 years since I was first eligible to vote and now I cast my vote based on the future I see for our beautiful country and the principles which will help us get there. Although this is just my example, we all clearly vote for different reasons but we may need to ensure that those we give the authority to govern are submitted to the needs of the country and its citizens instead of electing those we see as the authority that has gripped our hearts through their great promises.

How does the causal relationship between submission and authority work in our personal lives? The more one submits the more authority they have. In the area of our finances, the more we submit to the principle of living below our means by ensuring that our expenses are less than our income we give ourselves the ability to put our money to work by saving and investing. Our invested savings will create wealth which gives us more authority. Take it a step further and plug the leakages from our expenses and develop the skills that will increase our income then we multiply the impact of this principle. Some say that we can be healthy at any weight. Really!? Or is that what some people say who refuse to accept the idea that there is a healthy weight for each individual. Depending on where you are you will need to submit to your required ratio of energy consumed (food intake) vs energy expended (exercise). The more you do this, the better your weight and the authority you have over it. Energy consumed and energy expended cover the pillars of nutrition and exercise which are some of the key components of your health and wellness. Another important pillar is the pillar of rest & recuperation. When you have a pressing deadline coming up, what is one of the first things you sacrifice in order to meet that deadline? It’s most probably sleep and sleep is our primary form of rest & recuperation. The World Health Organization recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for 18 to 64 year olds. Are you submitting to the principle of rest & recuperation by getting enough sleep every night? If you consistently sleep less than 7 hours a night you are sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation is linked to the following lifestyle diseases; heart attacks, stroke, cancer, obesity, dementia, depression & diabetes. Notice how refusing to submit to rest & recuperation has a negative impact on the other two key pillars of your health and wellness. Is your lack of sleep worth the long term risk?

Our technology connects us in ways that were simply unimaginable 20 years ago and yet loneliness is a prevalent phenomenon in our society. Loneliness is a serious health risk because it is not just making us sick but it is killing us as well. We become sick because it impairs immune function and the mortality risk is as high as smoking and roughly twice that of obesity. Unfortunately, loneliness is stigmatized in our society which makes it more difficult for those suffering from loneliness to connect with others. Should there be someone who’s willing to share with you about their loneliness, are you willing to listen to them and give them the opportunity to reconnect with another human being? I know I am.

The technology connects us but we are failing to connect at a human level. Why is this so? Our technology brings a lot of convenience into our lives which is great but have we mistakenly brought that same convenience into our relationships? Good relationships are not built on convenience. Yes, send that text and reply with an emoji but don’t let the majority of your human interaction occur through your fingertips. Hearing someone’s voice, seeing their smile and their eyes light up is good for you and them. The more we reduce our face to face interactions the more we miss out on these physical and emotional benefits which are crucial for our mental wellbeing. We must remember that relationship (primary & secondary) is to our spirit what oxygen is to our physical bodies. Human relationships are not just physical but they have a spiritual component as well. Ignoring your spirit or having your identity anchored on your physical being and sprinkling it with some spirituality is the true definition of a dead man walking.

This brings us to the fourth pillar of health & wellness which is the anchor of the first three; rest & recuperation, nutrition and exercise. Anchoring these three on the firm foundation of faith makes it a wholistic approach for one to build a life of significance. Your physical being rests & recuperates through sleep, receives its nutrition from the materials fed into its cells and develops & maintains good movement patterns through exercise. Faith opens the door to your spiritual being and once you’ve opened it, how do you find rest for your spirit, how do you feed your spirit and how do you exercise your spirit?

Your spirit rests and recuperates by accepting the spiritual laws of the universe. Living in purpose feeds your spirit. Serving, your activities in solitude and giving are forms of exercise for your spirit. Submitting to the spiritual laws of the universe gives you authority and increases your influence in our planet. If the authority you have leaves your spirit malnourished, what are the other spiritual laws that you need to submit to?

Freedom

Today, the 27th of April 2019 we celebrate 25 years of a democratic South Africa. For some there’s much to celebrate but there’s a sense that for the majority democracy has been a big let down. Those who are celebrating and those that are seeing today through the lens of disappointment have their reasons and I have mine too. Earlier this month I came across a quote along these lines “We can never consume our way to equality but we can produce our way to equality’.

Reading this in April, which carries a significant anniversary milestone for our young democracy got me thinking. Are those South Africans who are let down by our democracy using consumption as a metric to measure equality? The car one drives, their home address, where they shop for their suits, shoes & bags, where they party and spend their holidays. Essentially using lifestyle to measure equality. If lifestyle is the metric then increasing one’s productivity is a much better way to demand an upgraded lifestyle rather then demanding the consumption habits of people on a different productivity level then your own. The beauty of emphasizing productivity over consumption is that it forces one to focus on the fruits of ones labor rather than the unfavorable comparison to other people’s fruit that a consumption bias lens produces.

Productivity focuses your lens to what you can give, your contribution rather than what you can get. Remember what we focus on magnifies our experience therefore as a young democracy that is still laying its foundations, everyone’s contribution matters and it’s needed in order to build South Africa into a glorious nation with a future that betrays the consequences of its dark past. Building a nation requires each one to build their own life by making a contribution to their community and the economy through their productivity.

If we, as South Africans decide to be more productive and become contributors, will our productivity lead to equality? If equality is your desired end, ask yourself these questions- is there a true measure of equality of outcome? What metric does one use to measure equality of outcome? Why does equality of outcome stir up the strongest emotions when it comes to the distribution of wealth that results from productive economic activity and yet in other spheres it doesn’t get as much attention? For example, all 400m sprinters at the Olympic finals put in the work required to prepare themselves for that 400m final race. Yet all of them and us watching accept the outcome of the race without demanding that Wayde van Niekerk share the victor’s spoils and the endorsements that come with being a world record holder with the other runners. Maybe we should spend a lot more time thinking about these questions before we lose the opportunity we have of building South Africa into a beacon of hope for our globalized village.

Today is Freedom Day. Just think about your freedom and the comforts you enjoy because of your freedom. But beware. Comfort breeds mediocrity and it’s the very thing that binds us to the chains that keep us enslaved. I’m sure you’re seeking freedom in one way or another so another question for you is – are you comfortable in your search for freedom or are you dealing with the discomfort of navigating your way into freedom?

In your quest for personal freedom, have you considered how you would free yourself from these three – the lust of the eyes, the insatiable desire of the flesh and the pride of life? Or have you not realized that you are in bondage to these three? Breaking free of these three could be the only way of finding freedom from the idea of equality of outcome. Is there someone greater than Nelson Mandela to free us?

The Process

The desire is big, the drive is deep and the vision board is elaborate but there can be no achievement of results without full dedication to the process.

One Saturday morning back in 1988 I remember thinking to myself how long it would take me to finish school? I then opened my dictionary and on the back cover I proceeded to write the grade that I would be in the following year and the next, right up to grade 12 in 1997. My desire was to finish school. The desire would be realized at the end of 1997 so that cast the vision. The vision board was not elaborate at all, it was just the back cover of my dictionary but the process I would need to follow was clear. Go to school everyday to make sure I get to do the next grade the following year. My simple view of the process at the age of 9 meant I didn’t realize that I would need to put in some effort in order to realize my vision and as a result I was a lazy student. Soon enough I reaped the rewards of laziness as I was forced to take extra lessons after school for two hours with Mrs Delaray who was my grade 3 teacher. Though my marks were not what they should have been (as per my mom’s assessment) I felt that I didn’t belong in extra lessons. As per my assessment my marks were not the problem, I was just lazy and I knew that if I put in the effort my marks would improve. At the end of the year I was grateful that I had taken the extra lessons because my marks improved which meant I wouldn’t be taking extra lessons in grade 4. There was a more important reason for being grateful for the extra lessons though and that was I had learnt how to structure my time in a way that would allow me to put in the required effort to get the desired result. Over the next two years after this experience I forgot this important lesson until I overheard my mom talking to my aunt about possibly taking extra lessons in grade 6. At that moment I decided that I was not taking extra lessons and I chose to become a good student. In grade 6 I achieved my first A(97%) for Geography in Mrs Hamilton’s class. What impressed me the most about my geography mark is that I noticed a direct correlation between what I sacrificed on the Saturday in order to prepare for the exam which happened to be on the Monday and the result I achieved. What exactly did I sacrifice? My mom was part of umbutho womama (a woman’s connect group from the neighborhood) and that Saturday the kids were invited so that meant it was going to be the biggest & the best play date of the year! Yes, I chose to study Geography instead of enjoying all the amenities that were available for kids to have a ball in the 90s. My dedication to the process made me a diligent student.

For some of you the above example which looks at the school leaving process may not be the best example for highlighting the importance of the process in achieving a desired result. A more recent example may be of better value to you.

The 28th of July 2017 was my last day at my job as I had decided to lay down the corporate career I had idolized for the last 12 years at J.P.Morgan (JP) and begin a journey of faith into creating a vocation from what I was called to do. At the beginning of my journey of transition from being driven to succeed to being called to a life of significance I didn’t understand what had been the purpose of my time at JP. Why was it so clear to me that if I continued to stay at JP I would never fulfill my potential even though throughout my time there I always felt that I was doing exactly what I needed to be doing at that present moment – I had learnt so many things I could have only learnt at this company. I had traveled overseas because of the work I did, I had made meaningful contributions to the global offices of JP especially in Johannesburg and the rest of the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) region and I had met an amazing bunch of people.

In order to find the answer to what was the purpose of my time at JP, I had to first look at the lessons learnt during my time there. The lessons would reveal what I was grateful for, what I was grateful for would in turn reveal what I had received and what I had received is what I would carry with me and give in the next chapter of my journey. I titled the list of lessons as ‘12 lessons learnt in my 12 years at J.P.Morgan’ and they are provided below:

1. Never work for the recognition rather seek to make a contribution and the recognition will come as a by-product of the contribution one has made.

2. If you have no work relationship with your manager’s manager – cut your losses and move on.

3. Ensure that the leadership structure you report to facilitates the contribution you seek to make.

4. Business results move at the speed of relationship.

5. Relationship and results are mutually inclusive.

6. Consider others better than yourself: for that is the path to a genuine win-win result/conclusion of a matter.

7. Do not let your remuneration lag your contribution for more than 18 months.

8. I may be the source of the idea but its successful implementation is dependent on the contribution of all the stakeholders.

9. Seek wise counsel & act on the perspective that has been provided and your plans will succeed.

10. Always go the extra mile for you do not know the wonderful benefits that await you once the extra miles are logged.

11. Never lose sight of the MISSION: no matter how great the quality of the relationships and the joy you experience while practicing the mastery of your craft.

12. Work as if you are working for the Lord.

The purpose for my time at JP was for me to discover what was important to me and to discover my abilities. I am eternally grateful for my time and my dedication to the process of building a career at JP otherwise my time there would not have fulfilled its purpose.

5 months into my transition journey it was clear to me that I was called into a life of significance by creating a vocation as a Life Strategist where I will be helping people to rule in life. I needed a transformation of my own that would give me credibility with my potential clients. I serve my clients by helping them rule in life by building a life centered on the pillars of rest & recuperation, nutrition, exercise all anchored on faith so I decided to become a StrongFirst Certified Kettlebell Instructor (SFG). What was I required to do to earn the qualification? First, meet the StrongFirst (SF) technique standards for the 6 foundational movements using the Kettlebell (KB). Secondly, perform 100 KB Snatches in 5 mins or less. The certification is done over 3 days which equates to a total of 22 hours of KB training practice and instruction. To maintain the SFG certification, I need to re-certify every two years (this was not about getting it done and getting the t-shirt, KB practice needed to become a lifestyle and this was a huge mental shift in mindset to the one I had before I seriously considered achieving the certification). When was the next certification to be hosted? At The Yard Athletic in Johannesburg 22-24 June 2018 – I had 6 months to prepare so I would start my preparation after my Christmas holidays in January. What was the financial cost? 14 000 South African Rands and fortunately there was an early bird rate of 10k if I registered before the end of March 2018.

On the second week of January 2018 I began my preparation for the certification weekend by setting up a personal training session at The Yard with Scottie MacIntosh. We went through the technical standards for each of the foundational movements. He told me to keep practicing and if I did that, I would ace the certification. At the beginning of this journey I weighed 109kg and how much I weighed affected the weight of the KB I would need to use at the certification. If I was over 100kg I would use a 28kg KB and if I was under 100kg I would use a 24kg KB. StrongFirst mentality is to get stronger but I knew that it was easier for me to lose just over 9kg in order to use the 24kg then to increase my strength to comfortably snatch 100 reps with the 28kg KB when the maximum I had ever done before was 96 reps in 5 minutes with the 20kg KB. The training plan required me to practice with kettlebells 5 times a week – Monday & Tuesday for my Snatch preparation and Thursday, Friday and Saturday for my 6 foundational movements (the certification was over 3 days so I had to practice for 3 consecutive days in my preparation work for the certification weekend so that my body would get used to the work load).

At the beginning the practice sessions would take me 90 minutes (this was a lot for someone who was used to ‘working out’ for 30 minutes a session) and I would sleep like a baby after each session. I would make each and every session for the next 5 weeks except the Saturday practice in week 5 (it was my son’s 5th birthday party that day so I chose to go for a 45 minute run instead and to my surprise I ran 8km’s in 47mins). So the following Saturday I ran again to see if I could run 10 Km’s under 60 mins and I did. This was my personal experience of what is called the ‘what the hell effects of KB practice ‘ – where your athletic performance in another sport or activity benefits as a result of your KB practice without any specific training for it. However this meant I had missed 2 consecutive Saturday practice sessions and this would become a regular occurrence over the next couple of months leading up to the certification weekend. By the beginning of March 2018 the excitement of pursuing this dream was wearing off and the realization that this was a lot harder than I had anticipated was setting in. I had to remind myself why I had started this journey in the first place- I needed a transformation of my own that would give me credibility with my potential clients. As good as this sounded, was it really worth the pain of the discomfort I was going through? Sadly my ‘why’ was not deep enough and that’s when I realized that I wanted to achieve the SFG certification to prove to myself that I could be apart of a community I really admired and respected (my potential clients will still benefit from having taken the journey because there is a direct correlation with the SF principles and the work that I do as a Life Strategist). That established my deep drive and I persevered through my preparation phase until 10 days before the certification weekend.

10 days before the certification weekend I got a cold which meant that instead of taking a 4 day break before the certification I would take 10 days off. My only concern at this point was wether I had prepared well enough for my Snatch test because in my preparation phase I had only managed to get 80 reps in 5 minutes with the 24kg KB. Throughout the certification weekend the Snatch test was at the back of my mind so when we got to the 3rd day when all the tests are done, I aced the StrongFirst technique standards for the 6 foundational movements but I failed my Snatch test. I only managed 91 reps in 5 minutes with a 24kg KB. Although this was my personal best, it still meant I had failed my Snatch test therefore I would have to wait a little longer before I became an SFG. Why had I aced the technique standards and failed the Snatch test? The answer was simple, I had followed the preparation guide to the T for the foundational movements but I had tweeked it here and there for the Snatch test. When I realized I was not progressing as well as the program required I thought changing things up may lead to the desired progress. This was wrong, I should have been more patient by spending a little more time at each stage of the program during my preparation phase. Simply put, I was diligent in the process for one and I neglected the process for the other. Neglecting the process meant that I did not achieve my objective. So I humbled myself and I dedicated myself to the process required to meet the Snatch test standard.

On the 22nd of September 2018 I successfully completed the Snatch test and finally became an SFG. This became a reality for one reason only, I was diligent in the process.

What is the desire that is driving your actions? Do you know what is the required process for you to follow for it’s achievement or are you so focused on the result that you have neglected the process? Does compromising the process in order to achieve the result compromise your character development? Do you like your character that is being revealed to you by going through the process? What are the intangible benefits for going through the process that you will miss out on if you shortchange the process? As you ponder your answers to these questions, remember there can be no achievement of results without full dedication to the process.