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CrystalQuest Adventures

…towards equipping the total man!

God’s got it all in control!

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I was on my way to church this morning when my car broke down. I was about to negotiate a bend when one of my front tyres stepped on a sharp pebble that I did not even realize was there and ‘boom’, there goes my tyre! While I was waiting for it to be fixed, I reflected on how puzzling life can actually be especially because the first thought that came to my mind was how God would allow this to happen on my way to church. The same reason people always wonder why bad things happen to good people. As I kept turning it all in my mind, I recalled Psalm 23:4 [Even though I walk through the (sunless) valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod (to protect) and Your staff (to guide), they comfort and console me. AMP] and then it hit me! God has a way of making all things work together for our good [Romans 8:28]. HE never sleeps nor slumbers, even in the midst of our adversities. Like the shepherd’s rod that was meant to chastise the sheep when they want to stray, there is the deliberate underlying protection the rod provides. The seeming rebuke is more like a safety measure that keeps them from harm. And then again the shepherd’s staff is always there to guide and direct the sheep.

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In the midst of life’s overwhelming turbulence, God’s rod (protection) and staff (guidance) would always be a sure source of comfort and direction. Serious challenges of life and even little hitches like my tyre issue can actually be God’s preventive or safety measures for the overall good of His children. God often uses the foolish things of this world to show His mighty works [1Corinthians 1:27]. That is why He commanded us to give thanks in all situations [1Thessalonians 5:18] as that seemingly terrible circumstance might be His help in progress and would eventually be something to really be grateful for. If you are still in doubt, ask Joseph in Genesis 41 about the 24hours miracle of repositioning from the prison to the palace or read the entire chapters (just 4 of them!) of the book of Ruth and you will be amazed about how God can use the direst of situations to achieve His redemptive plan for mankind. God is perfect in all ways and really know how to make music out of broken chords. Your situation can never be beyond Him, just cast it all on Him and with a heart of gratitude, be confident that it will end in praise. God’s got it all in control! He is God over all!!

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The good thing about midlife crisis!

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I think the ”crisis” in midlife crisis is what gave it the negative ring oftentimes associated with it. The definition itself does not even help matters. Midlife crisis simply put is a loss of self confidence and feeling of anxiety or disappointment that can occur in early middle age. It is a period of life often characterized by a deep sense of confusion arising from an oftentimes unconscious re-evaluation of one’s life. It is a period when you start to have more questions than answers especially hard ones like ”is this all there is to life? Why am I doing this? What about what I need? Who am I? What is the real point of me? Why put my life off any longer?” As we grow older, things often do not turn out as nicely as we planned. We may not climb up the career ladder as quickly as we wished. Or we do, only to find out that prestige and a high income are not as satisfying as we expected them to be. At the same time, high expectations about the future adjust downwards. Midlife essentially becomes a time of double misery, made up of disappointments and evaporating aspirations. Many could even be obsessed with their own mortality as the realization that time is ticking could lead to depression. Paradoxically, those who objectively have the least reason to complain (e.g. if they have a desirable job) often suffer most. They feel ungrateful and disappointed with themselves particularly because their discontent seems so unjustified. This is often because of the fact that most of them forgot to enjoy the ride on their way up, clinging to the illusion of ”I will have it all when I get there” only to get there and realized the fun is actually in the process of getting to the top. What a wasted life!

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As much as one might want to see midlife crisis as a psychological issue (especially going by the tendencies of those going through it to exhibit certain irrational behaviours such as drastic changes in habits, mood swings, and impulsive decision-making, obsession with appearances etc), there is also the need to realize that it can also be used as a springboard to rediscovering oneself, redefining one’s goals and charting a fresh course towards fulfilling destiny, if properly harnessed. Once you are able to honestly acknowledge and evaluate where you are coming from with or without the help of someone (that may at least help you see your blessings and rid you of that feeling of discontent), you can actually through determination and diligence strive towards getting to where you desire to be and you never can tell, you just might get there!

Making certain changes and taking some decisions early in life may prevent one from having a midlife crisis. When your life is driven by a strong sense of purpose, you become passionate about your dreams and pursuing your goals become fun. People who spend their lives dedicated to fulfilling their aspirations and objectives are less likely to have midlife crisis; growing older is easier for them. Knowing their purpose in life gives them stability. Whatever challenges life throws at them, their passion for what they do keeps them going against all odds. People who changed jobs or take on new challenges before their midlife years had a greater sense of generativity when they reached midlife. They find fulfilment in trying to give back to the society that nurtures them and take pleasure in contributing their own quota towards making the world a better place. For the ”late bloomers” that realized they have missed it and rediscovered purpose in the second half of their lives or those that all of a sudden are not so sure their purpose is actually worthwhile, all hope is not lost. You should first be grateful that you are alive and rather than indulge yourself in the excesses of a full blown midlife crisis, you can actually restrategize and start with what you have. Use new thoughts and ideas to create new goals in a positive way, move outside your comfort zones and seek help if need be. It is better late than never! For the vast majority of us reading this that are not even anywhere near our midlife yet, this is a wake up call that we need to buckle up, do some serious soulsearching and get passionate about why we are here, and for those on the path already, stepping up your game would not be a bad idea at all. A purpose driven, diligent life will definitely have fewer regrets than going through life on autopilot. The autopilot life will inevitably suffer midlife crisis and the second half will most likely be rocky.

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Why you must cultivate a reading culture!

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Success is not just about innate ability. It is combined with a number of key factors such as opportunity, meaningful hard work and your cultural legacy. Random factors of chance, such as when and where you were born can influence the opportunities you have (as asserted by Malcolm Gladwell in his classic book ”Outliers”) in life. How well you succeed and the quality of life you lived will be determined by how you take advantage of the opportunities life presents to you and this in turn is greatly dependent on the kind of ”stuff” you are made of. This so called ”stuff” is simply the sum of your physical, social, emotional and mental well being and if there is one potent means of developing yourself, it is by taking advantage of the ever present wisdom of those who had gone ahead of us and had garnered vital lessons on how to navigate life’s troubled waters. I tell you what, much of these wisdom are very much available in books.

When was the last time you read a book, or a substantial magazine article? Do your daily reading habits center around tweets, Facebook updates, or the directions on your instant food packet? There is a reading genre for every literate person on the planet. Whatever your taste or preference, there is something out there to capture your curiosity and imagination and knowing them would sure make a better you. If you are one of countless people who do not make a habit of reading regularly, you are missing a great deal on a significant number of benefits. Some of those benefits are listed below:

1. Knowledge – Reading is one fantastic way of filling your head with new bits of information, and you never know when it might come in handy. Even if all you read is fiction, you can learn quite a lot about cultural influence, relationships, history, fear, human psychology, the various expressions of spirituality, the effects of war and so on. Branch out into non-fiction, Biographies, history etc and you will learn more about past and current events. Study Philosophy, Psychology, How-to books. Memoirs, Science, Exploration etc and watch your knowledge base broadens. The more knowledge you have, the better equipped you are to tackle life’s challenges and position yourself for greater tomorrow.

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2. Improved writing and speaking skills – Reading published well-written works has a noted effect on one’s own writing, as observing the cadence, fluidity, and writing styles of other authors will invariably influence your own work. Reading is the most painless way to improve your vocabulary, spelling, and grammatical proficiency: the more you read, the more words you gain exposure to and consequently the more articulate and well-spoken you become. Reading is also vital for learning new languages, as non-native speakers gain exposure to words used in context, which will greatly enhance their own speaking and writing fluency.

3. Mental stimulation – Keeping your brain active and engaged prevents it from losing power. Just like any other muscle in the body, the brain requires exercise to keep it strong and healthy, so the phrase “use it or lose it” is particularly apt when it comes to your mind. Reading stretches your mind and have also been found to be helpful with cognitive stimulation.

4. Stronger analytical thinking skills – As you fill your mind with fresh materials from all these books, you become more creative. Creativity is really all about making connections. The creative people in life have a broad database of knowledge and they can make those connections really well. They do not bother keeping the categories separate. They let poetry seep into science. They let faith and history hang out together. They understand, in fact, that all those categorizations are imposed. We put labels on things so that we can feel like we understand them, but sometimes the labels are counterproductive. Reading helps you to fill your mind from as many sources as you want, and then let all of that beautiful stuff mingle and mix in anyway it wants. Have you ever read an amazing mystery novel, and solved the mystery yourself before finishing the book? If so, you were able to put critical and analytical thinking to work by taking note of all the details provided and sorting them out to determine the end game. That same ability to analyze details also comes in handy when it comes to critiquing the plot; determining whether it was a well articulated piece. Should you ever have an opportunity to discuss the book with others, you will be able to state your opinions clearly, as you have taken the time to really consider all the aspects involved. That is how reading nurtures your creativity.

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5. Improved focus and memory – Apart from being able to nurture your creativity, when you read, you have to remember an assortment of characters, their backgrounds, ambitions, history, and nuances, as well as the various arcs and sub-plots that weave their way through every story. Amazingly enough, every new memory you create forges new synapses (brain pathways) and strengthens existing ones, which enhances memory recall as well as improving focus and stabilizing moods.

6. Stress reduction – No matter how much stress you have at work, in your personal relationships, or countless other issues faced in daily life, it all just slips away when you lose yourself in a great book. A well-written novel can transport you to other realms, while an engaging article will distract you and keep you in the present moment, letting tensions drain away and allowing you to relax. In addition to the relaxation that accompanies reading a good book, it is possible that the subject you read about can bring about immense inner peace and tranquility. Reading spiritual texts can lower blood pressure and bring about an immense sense of calm, while reading self-help books has been shown to help people suffering from certain mood disorders and mild mental illnesses.

Reading is truly an essential activity with many benefits. Next time you find yourself with nothing to do, try picking up an interesting book, open your mind and let your imagination run free!

It’s time to let go!

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”If you never say goodbye to the best things in your life, there are things you don’t appreciate at all… Unknown”

Looking back 2016, it has been an awesome year. In spite of the devil, we are here! God has been wonderfully faithful. He showed Himself mighty and strong. The food we eat, His provision and protection. In spite of the recession, He kept us and as much as the year has its ups and downs, we made it thus far.

2017 promises to be a delight! A clean slate, a fresh start. An opportunity to rewrite history and honestly, it’s time to let go of those things we have been clinging to. I mean those things or folks that are holding us down by seemingly making us feel it can’t be done without them. I always tell people that much of what is holding us back is the fear of letting go of the better for the best. We celebrate our little achievements and rather than make them stepping stones, they become our final destination and comfort zones. However, the unfortunate thing about comfort zones is their ability to stagnate us. We think we have arrived and get so complacent that taking on the next challenge become our biggest challenge.

Life will always show you when to act, oftentimes presenting opportunities disguised as challenges. Knowing what to do per time is entirely on you especially because much of the challenges you will encounter will be tailored towards your strengths and passions so two basic ingredients for your succeeding in 2017 will be discernment and determination. Discernment is essential for realizing what needs to the done and when it should be done. The power of timing is so key that a good done at the wrong time might as well have been bad, if not worse. Determination will keep you going against all odds. A determined mind would fall a thousand times and rise again a thousand times. Determination will enable you focus through thick and thin and help you weather the storm every step of the way! I pray the spirit of discernment and the strength to remain dogged be released upon you 2017 and beyond in Jesus name! You will succeed!!!

Common mistakes singles make!

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I was at a meeting recently and as God would have it, I had to talk to a group of young adults about some of the seemingly harmless mistakes I have over the years observed that singles make which eventually became the albatross of most failed marriages. The unfortunate thing is that these issues are so insignificant during courtship that it is so easy to loose sight of them or even outrightly ignore them. Marriage counsellors rarely talk about them. Relationship books are not even helping matters and so the lack of attention has actually been helping these insignificant foxes subtly ruin the marriage vines. It is a burden I have had for a while now and I never hesitate to share them at every available opportunity I get to do so. Let me briefly run through them in this piece and I trust God for positive impact as you flow with me.

1. Read Relationship Books – even pastors recommend them. The point is, the books you read goes to your subconscious and manifest in subtle ways you won’t even realize. You might have consciously forgotten the content but trust me, your brain does not. As much as it very good to read books on marriage and relationships, you really need to read other books too to fully grasp and make use of whatever you think you have learnt in relationship books. There is also the issue of cultural differences that are not often addressed. Most of the usually recommended relationship books are written by foreign authors who might not necessarily be in tune with our customs and socio-economic realities and oftentimes writes from their own experiential perspectives. The ideal thing is to read deep, read wide and meditate. Your brain has the incredible ability to extract, process and make use of complex and even seemingly unrelated knowledge such that it becomes a vital part of you and eventually shapes who you become. It is in these overall and complete knowledge that you can properly contextualize lessons taught and effectively analyse them for optimal use.

2. Assume Love Is A Feeling – someone once said ”the true test of love is commitment” and commitment is the readiness to go all the way, through thick and thin. You do not love people because you feel like it. You sit down, pray and hear God concerning the matter, evaluate yourself, evaluate them, count the cost and then make up your mind to love them no matter what. If you, being human sometimes do things that leaves you disappointed in yourself, you should be prepared to forgive those you love when they fail you. Love is a decision you take with your feelings in tune with reality so as to ensure the permanence of that decision. You have sought God, you have the leading, you have properly evaluated your realities and map out strategies to consciously and unconsciously enjoy your marriage. That’s where your convictions stem from. Once you have it, you can savour the good times and cope with the challenges of married life. Marriage is serious work and you will definitely require more than your feelings to make it work.

3. Ignore The Time Factor – although this often tells more on ladies, it affects men too. We always forget we have no control over times and seasons. We cannot really tell who Mr/Mrs Right would be and when he/she would come knocking, so instead of acting like we already had it all figured out, we need to be open to God’s direction and control. Many plans are in a man’s mind, but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand [Proverbs 19:21AMP]. Rather than focus on our own plans and calculations, we should strive to discern what God is telling us concerning our situations so as not to miss His plans and purposes for our lives. Parental influence can also be a contributory factor here. You see cases of parents discouraging or outrightly forbidding their wards (especially female) from being in relationships at a certain age (especially when they are in tertiary institutions) only for these same parents to be asking them about marriage plans immediately after graduation. Parents need to model good examples and help guide their children correctly rather than dish out rules and then leave them to the mercy of peer pressure and the mass media.

4. Problem Of Expectations – it is really good to have standards and desire the best life has to offer but it’s a known fact that those who truly enjoy marriage are those that went into it focussing more on what they will give than what they will get. Giving is one sure attribute of love [John 3:16]. When you genuinely love someone, you always want and strive for what is best for them. You care so much about them that giving comes natural to you. Besides, the giver is a seed sower and because the law of sowing and reaping always applies, whatever you sow get multiplied back to you. If your focus is on how to be a blessing to your partner, it is a guarantee that you will in turn be blessed in multiple folds. True love is never self seeking [1Corinthians 13:5]

5. Confuse Romance With Friendship – this is essentially why cohabitation is wrong. Your romantic involvement oftentimes blindsided you to red flags like family [e.g in-law issues], medical [e.g blood group and genotype issues] and financial [liberal or conservative] compatibility. You have too much of pecking, necking and sometimes sex that you do not have time to really know each other. You get married and a few months down the line, the honeymoon is over and then it dawned on you that you barely knew each other. Even your circle of friends become difficult to reconcile because you have fail to get acquainted with them when you should have done so. Friendship matters a whole lot in marriage because you will practically be spending the rest of your lives with each other so please do not get carried away by the romance, it is a sure recipe for disaster.

6. Fail To Marry Vision – it is ideal that married people have visions that complement each other especially because marriage is a phase that people tend to evolve and could sometimes ‘loose’ themselves. Although, it happens to men too, women in this part of the world tend to be greatly affected especially because she is expected to key into her husband’s vision even if it has no correlation with her personal purpose in life. She has to practically relinquish who she was and what she is about except it conform to that of her hubby. Passions, hobbies etc and oftentimes friends (except the ones the husband had known and become comfortable with) all gone except there is a determined effort to sustain them which is much easier to do if it complements the husband’s vision than if it does not. The upside is that hidden potentials and talents can also be discovered in the process but the more prevalent downside is that people become square pegs in round holes, practically living out someone else’s dreams. It is not just enough to marry someone with a vision, it should be a vision you can live with without losing yourself.

7. Fail To Give Their Life To Christ – we oftentimes fail to realize we need to be born again for the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. The Holy Spirit has been sent through Christ to teach us all things [But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. John 14:26KJV]. I always tell people that the Holy Spirit can actually teach you things way beyond your imagination or experience that you will be manifesting profound and astounding wisdom. When you give your life to Christ and get baptized in the Holy Spirit, He guards, guides and order your steps. You operate in the supernatural and your discernment is so sharp that taking decisions become stress free. I tell you what, choosing a life partner is still best done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It’s the surest way to have a regret free choice!

The ‘indomie’ generation!

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My thoughts have been on a roller coaster ride lately. I have a job that requires me talk to and extract information from seemingly ordinary day to day conversations with clients and I must confess it’s been quite an experience. My burden actually stem from the realization of how much our generation seems to lack in terms of depth and wisdom. We have so majored on the minor things of life and our ignorance is quite astonishing. As much as there will always be exceptions, the vast majority of us are kind of guilty as charged.

Ours is a generation I lack the right words to adequately describe. A generation that sees pain as a curse and refuses to come to terms with “no pain, no gain”. We have the best of resources and still could not accomplish much. We claimed to be smart and despise hardwork, yet lack the depth and wisdom to even steer our own lives aright. Our role models are footballers and weird looking, morally bankrupt musicians. We adore and talk about them with so much passion that even Albert Einstein would go green with envy if he realizes how much Lionel Messi earns in a year and how much we idolize him. Check out the crowd at a typical newspaper stand and you will be shocked that over eighty percent of them have come to check out the sport pages. Only a handful would bother to read the news or try to keep abreast of current events and happenings around the world. I always wonder how we will care for our offspring when we lack the rudiments of parenting. Here is a generation that’s just too busy to learn. A bunch of workaholics with very lazy minds. Always in a hurry to take it all in and thus fail to perfect competence in what truly matters. A Jack of all trade generation that is so delighted in instant gratification and taking the fastest means available. Ask an average youth how many books he read last year and his response would probably be “when I have not even finished studying what I’ve been taught at school, where is the time to read books that has no direct relevance with my course of study?”

The decadence seems to have taken a toll on our morals too as that in itself has degenerated so much especially lately. How else do you explain the fact that chastity seems to have lost it pride? It doesn’t matter what kind of life you live for as long as you have some material possessions to show for it. Who cares about a good name when the society itself relates with you on the basis of how heavy your pocket is? Whether it’s ill gotten or ritual money, as long as it pays the bills and support your ostentatious lifestyle, “na you dey reign”. Leadership is never on the basis of competence but on nepotism or who spends the most cash. I often wonder how we expect progress especially in our so called third world countries when all we care about is our individual welfare and that alone. An average youth just want to get there and ‘make it’ by hook or crook because leadership is no longer about service but an avenue to siphon public wealth into private pockets. The proliferation of junk and instant, oftentimes over processed foods is another testament to how much this generation seems to love shortcuts and truth be told, it’s already telling on our health and vitality.

The rate of deterioration and its attendant consequences are indications that we continue to ignore the red flags at our own peril. We need to retrace our steps and go back to the basics. Values like hardwork, diligence, honesty and selflessness need to find their way back into our systems. Total character reformation and reorientation to set our moral compasses aright. Integrity and the fear of God should always drive our motives and dealings because our love for God and for each other is what really matters if we truly want to chart a fresh course towards greatness. With our minds made up and hands on the plough, we can make it happen!

New year reflections!

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It’s the last day of the year and there I was on my bed in the early hours pondering on my 2014 in readiness for the incoming year. I recalled how events of the past years have kind of shaped who I am now and how faithful God has really been all the way. As I mentally anticipate and prepare for the incoming year, I thought of the fact that mankind’s search for true and lasting happiness has been the pivot of all ambitions and struggles.

I remembered a blog post by Patrick Morley rightly pointed it out that regardless of our age, size, race or wisdom, we’re all trying to solve one or more of these 7 cardinal problems of life…
1. Why do I feel so alone?
2. Does God care about me personally?
3. What is the purpose of my life – it feels random?
4. How can I conquer these destructive behaviours dragging me down?
5. How can I feed my soul?
6. How can I make my relationships more healthy?
7. How can I make a difference and leave the world a better place?

I’m sure we all can add to this list but whether you live in Texas or Tokyo, Lagos or Khartoum, we’re all asking these same questions. Regardless of the intelligence, wisdom, wealth, education, ethnicity or eloquence, we’re all trying to solve the same problems. That’s because christianity and secularism are not trying to solve different problems. They are only trying to solve the same problems in different ways.

Christianity frequently explains why life is so hard and what to do about it but the problem is that every other worldviews, philosophy and religion also promises the same thing. And really, the good ones actually work sometimes for as long as 30 or 40 years. But all worldviews other than christianity eventually fail frequently at the worst possible moment and often after you have given it the best years of your life.

As the year draws to a close, consider using these questions for a time of reflection, self examination and new year’s course corrections. Don’t ever make that mistake of replacing the truth with mammon. God has given His only begotten son to save us from eternal damnation (John 3:16). Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). The only way to live in lasting peace and still enjoy eternity is to make Christ the centre of our lives! Welcome to 2015. You will succeed!

Our age is one of great ideas and innovation that produce outstanding projects, and not one of filling minds with information… Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Vice President of UAE & Ruler of Dubai)

Cultivating the spirit of excellence!

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The story of Daniel is old and fascinating as it reveals the possibilities of godliness thriving in the midst of ungodliness. The Bible records their uncommon loyalty to God even in the land of their captors. Based on the overwhelming influence of the spirit of God in their lives, Daniel and his three friends, like Joseph had this “excellent spirit” that stood them out and cause them to thrive even in strange lands. Men of uncommon purpose and prayer that have been seasoned in God’s presence to live uprightly and pursue holiness in all their ways. Men sold out to God and dedicated to their responsibilities. Discerning men of great perception and power!

There are many traits that mark an excellent spirit in man. Heading the list is a factor that should need no emphasis; yet it does. It is hard work. The true spirit of a man is often revealed by his attitude towards work. Work offers a revealing display of character. The way you relate with people and how well you comport yourself tells a great deal about your kind of person and your general value system. Work is a demanding arena of pressure that reflects our personalities and test our efficiencies. An excellent spirit does not just consist wholly in gentleness, patience, meekness, and kindliness. These graces are essential; but there is also courage, energy, and perseverance. Men of stamina are wanted, men who will not wait to have their way smoothed and every obstacle removed, men who will inspire with fresh zeal the nagging efforts of dispirited workers and radiate wholesome integrity and uncommon dedication. Leonardo da Vinci observed, “God gave us everything at the price of effort.” He who works hard will never be without work and he who appreciates hard work will always be appreciated. Everyone want to have such men on their team because the excellent spirit is a cooperative spirit. Kings sought them and princes court them because they are men who will not slack in whatever is committed to them. They are men who understand that “you may not reap where you sow but you will definitely reap what you have sown” and so do not fail to put in their very best whether they are appreciated or not.

There is however the need to be mindful of “workaholism” in our pursuit of excellence. An “excellent” man must take rest seriously. Thinking, planning, praying and especially seeking God’s will concerning our endeavours must also not take the backseat while work goes full throttle. We must be able to strike a balance between the needful and effectively build downtime to accommodate other important activities into our schedules. We must never forget that “getting there” is not what brings fulfillment, “enjoying the process” is the key to fulfillment and lasting peace!

Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone,
Dare to have a purpose firm,
Dare to make it known,
Integrity and rare diligence…
Dare to be excellent!

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