Shhhh… protect the relationship

One of the strangest things I came to learn about family while growing up, is that in families we talk about each other.

If you have two sisters, you’ll talk about the one to the other – sharing the good and bad moments with each other. It’s part of how families bond.

I still remember the first time I realized this. My gran had made a comment about how lazily I sweep the floor, and my sister said it back to me in a fight, “no wonder gran says you’re lazy”. Of course my gran meant no harm, and my sister was just being a sibling. But I was puzzled about why my gran had never mentioned this to me (as we did live in the same house).

As I grew up I realised that this is simply how families function.

It can be innocent, but I’ve realised that as we get older, it can be damaging to relationships.

Once people get older, it seems we start relying on others to judge the character / persons of other people for us. So if someone says someone is lazy long enough, you will end up truly thinking that they are indeed lazy. Even if it’s not something you yourself have come to observe about the person.

Many people have judged others before they have even met them, simply because of the opinion of those close to them.

I’ve also seen how siblings can hate/dislike one another simply because of what they have heard about each other either from a parent, or from another sibling – or even another family member.

The truth is, we need to be conscious of how our words and action affect the ability of other people close to us to relate to one another.

I know from experience that I can influence how people close to me relate with each other. I know I can start by gauging what they think of each other and then begin to make certain suggestions to drive their relationship in a particular direction. The closer I am to them, the more influence I have on them.

These are just my reflections. As I think about how we can build stronger and more authentic relationships in our families.

The Bible talks about the need to protect our hearts, and I think as far as relationships go, we have a responsibility to protect the hearts of our loved ones by always asking ourselves, “what is my intention in sharing this story about that person with this person?”. If our intentions our wrong, or we suspect that it might affect the person we are sharing the story with negatively towards the other person, then let’s rather not share it.

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Resist the system to change the system

I recently had a conversation with a group of fellow young leaders recently. The topic for discussion: bribery and corruption. It was a heated discussion with varying viewpoints but the dominant viewpoint was this, “bribery and corruption exists, we just have to get used it and just make sure that when we are in leadership positions we only eat a little and share the rest”. Needless to say I left this conversation confused and a little discouraged. I even suggested this, “if we feel this way then why don’t we just legalise corruption and bribery?”. Of course, the group disagreed because we just can’t legalise it. We can do it as standard practise but not to the point of legalising it. Sigh!
Conversations like this one tend to leave me thinking deeply about life and questioning the validity of my core beliefs.

I entered the University of the Free State’s Callie Human hall as part of the graduation procession (representing the Chairman of Council) with my spirit still deflected and still questioning what being a young leader means and should mean.Little did I know that the speeches of the day would lift my spirits and have my sould shouting “Amandla” again.

Prof Petersen – the newly-appointed Vice-Chancellor was the guest speaker of the day and he made two speeches, one in the morning session and another in the afternoon session.
The first speech he made touched on diversity and identity. He challenged the graduates to think deeply about how they interact with others in diverse environments and how they think about themselves in relation to others. The second speech was a reflection on June 16 1976 – the day of the Soweto Uprising and a day on which South Africans now commemorate Youth Day. He reflected on the fact that the same education that was a matter of contention then still remains a problem now as evidenced by the Fees Must Fall protests as well as calls from students for government to decolonise the education system. He challenged the graduates to play a role in leading the change that we need. (the speeches will be posted on the UFS website http://www.ufs.ac.za).
What got me back into a revolutionary state-of-mind were the remarks that Prof Mokhele (Chancellor) made just before he closed the afternoon ceremony. Prof Mokhele – expanding on Prof Pertersen’s speech made the young graduates aware of the current state of South Africa. In particular, he highlighted a recent murder of a farmer and his mother as well as the Brian Molefe – Eskom saga. He commented that no one would go to jail to take responsibility for the Eskom saga due to the patronage political system that is now the status quo in the country. He made the young graduates aware that they would be entering this very system very soon. That demands would be made on them with expectations for them to compromise their values and to contribute to the systemic rot and corruption. He made this plea to the graduates, “you are the ones who can be able to change this system. When you enter into the workplace, resist the system. Refuse to be a part of it. Be the change”. It is at this point that I felt like I wanted to get up and say, AMANDLA!!!

As someone who has been working for over six years since I graduated, I know the magnitude of his request and I know what a big ask it is to be making. I know this because this is an everyday struggle of every young person hoping to make a difference. This is what our group of fellow young leaders is struggling with. “How do we maintain integrity and good ethical values if we are to be successful in the system?”. “How do we put food on the table if we refuse to pay a bribe to get a tender that someone else is going to pay anyway?”. “How will we build our businesses if we refuse to give authorities a share of the contract?”.
His request is easier said than done. But I believe with every fibre of my being that it can be done.

I believe that one of the important things that we as young people have to understand is that for this system to be changed, corrected and for its effects to be reversed, it is going to cost us and it will cost us deeply!!!
It will cost us potentially life-changing opportunities. It will cost us great business opportunities. It will cost us political positions and careers. However, if we think beyond ourselves to the generations that are coming after us, and how our resistance will benefit them, then we will manage to sum up the courage to pay this cost – if not for us then for our children and their children.

Prof Mokhele’s challenge has encouraged me to keep pursuing to do the right thing. It has inspired me to write this post, and many others to follow to encourage young leaders to lead differently. To let go of the idea of leading to attain social status, glory and wealth but to lead to make a difference, and to lead to steer their communities, their nations and this beloved continent forward.

Last night a friend and fellow young leader, as if to add cherry on top of the motivation I received at the graduations,sent me the following message: “Sis, my prayer for this continent is that we grow and find a voice outside old school politics. None of the traditional parties and their people will ever get us real freedom”.
This message was exactly what I needed to know that I am not the only one who realises that we need to think outside of the existing system. That God is whispering in the hearts of other young people like me to do better and to be better. I am heeding this call! I will continue to resist the system. AMANDLA!!!

 

 

Step Out and Away From The Crowd

image.jpegToday I’m inspired to inspire someone about how to carve the life that they  want and escape the life that others may have designed for them:

I believe that many people struggle to make choices about where they want to go in life because we grow up in societies where choices are made for us (because of culture and all that)… So most people don’t apply their minds as to who they are, and what they want to look back on at the end of their lives. Most people just exist.
And the idea of even planning out a customized life is scary to a lot of us because it is counter-cultural and “who do you think you are to aspire to be different to the rest of us?”

Well, here’s my What I Know For Sure:
Sitting down and deciding that “THIS is what I want out of life” is scary and it is unusual. And it is VERY difficult, because it means you have to not only walk on a path that none has walked before but also because you have to carve out that path for yourself – no one would have done it for you. And also because, you will most likely have to step out and away from the crowd to do so.
However, this is the best thing you can do for yourself because in doing so, you position yourself to live not as the world dictates but as God purposes you to live. In doing so you pursue not the status quo but your highest potential.

I urge you to step out and away from the crowd and take the time to ask yourself: what life is it that I desire to live? Who do I want to say I invested my time in becoming? What kind of experience do I want to reminisce about when I reach the end of my life?
And remember, “courage is not the absence of fear” so don’t let your fear keep you from pursuing what you know in your heart and mind is the right path to take!!!

A birthday well-spent

 

It is difficult to write this birthday post after the day I had… All I have right now are words and phrases dancing in my head refusing to form comprehensible sentences.

 

Today, I guess I will do something different. Instead of writing about the ideas, I will focus on the people I encountered who put them in my head in the first place.

First, is Monica Cost, a finance professional turned brand specialist who is living her life from an authentic place. After realising that her life resembled more of who the people around her want her to be, than who she is, she decided to make a drastic change to live a life that was better aligned with who she knew she was. Monica spoke to us about living a life that was consistent with our top values and making sure that we did not react to situations that confront our values in a way that compromised the very same values and in turn, compromised who we are.

I am not one to have regrets, but I realised during her talk that I had one regret for my birthday, and that regret is this: I have allowed certain events in the past 12 months to change who I am, to change my attitude towards people and my outlook on life. I am a firm believer that life is not about what happens to you, but how you react to what happens to you. I have allowed myself to fall victim to certain things that have happened to me. And I am paying the price for it.

Secondly, we met with Ms Gloria Fox, a state representative in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. A strong woman whose voice echoes in the corridors of the state house way before she even enters the room. She’s the only Black woman out of 160 house representatives, and has been in politics for over thirty years. In her I saw a woman who was comfortable in who she was. She is strong, she is bold and she knows it. And you cannot do anything about it…I will dedicate a whole post to her soonest…

I want to be like her. I want to be able to speak my truth and not tremble when I do. I want to be able to speak my truth even when I’m tremble. I want to be able to be all that I know God has created me to be. I want to be firm about what I stand for, even if it’s not popular. I want to stand for something…

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This is my signature to life. This is my “I was here”. This is my “dent in the universe”. It is for freedom that Christ has set me free!!!

Lastly, I attended a talk by Anshu Gupta (google him) and I have never been so glad that I made the effort to attend a talk in my life. Anshu was talking about his organisation, GOONJ’s approach to solving societal problems in India. He spoke about the importance of “focusing on the receiver’s dignity rather than the donor’s pride”. I thought that this was relevant, especially after reading all those “white saviour complex”(google that) Facebook posts that have been popping up everywhere in the past week.

I am not a “white saviour” but I learned an important lesson from his talk, as he put it in his own words, “even the doctor doesn’t decide on the medicine he has to give you until he has examined you. So, who the hell are we to decide on what the villagers need”. How many of us, in thinking of African solutions for African problems take the time to understand the very African communities we are trying to impact? I will be chewing on this as I go to sleep tonight.

If I can be Oprah here for a minute, I would say: WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE IS THIS… There are no coincidences in life. Everything I heard today, every experience I encountered and every word that resonated with my spirit, was exactly what God wanted me to hear and learn from. I am grateful, in advance, for the fruit these lessons will bear in my life.

I had an amazing day, and it must have to do with the powerful prayer my husband prayed over me first thing in the morning. Thank you to every single person who spared a word, a thought and a prayer to make this day special!!!

 

 

The Power in Us

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think, according to the power that works in us” Ephesians 3:20

There’s a power working in us, that power is of God and it enables Him to do for us, in us and through us so much more than we can ever fathom. I am writing this blog sitting in a dorm room at Lesley University, as one of a 1,000 Mandela Washington Fellows 2016 and one of 25 who have been placed at Cambridge College in Massachusetts. A few months ago, this was just a dream that seemed more impossible than possible, and today I am living my dream and my prayer.

I have often written about the fact that our lives are a manifestation of our prayers. I believe this with all my heart. However, I cannot get used to seeing those prayers manifest, especially in such a big and significant way. Of course, there is much more I am trusting God for, and all these things will only be realised if I am willing to walk in and to embrace the power of God in my life.

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A picture of the Charles River which separates Massachusetts and Boston. 

Sometimes, I forget about this power and I find myself drowning and overwhelmed by whatever circumstance throws itself at me in a moment. And then God shows up, quickly reminding me that there’s nothing He cannot do for us. There is no situation He cannot handle, and no prayer He cannot answer.

I was reminded again of this power that we have in God this past Sunday when I went to visit Pentecostal Tabernacle Church, which is close to where we are staying. The preacher gave a message titled, “Who is the preacher of your household?”. Of course, the answer to that is, we are our own preachers.

We are the ones who have been given the ability to tap into the power of God, through prayer and through the confession of His word over our lives. In doing so, we invite God to do what only He can. Only He promises that “I will make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the dessert” (Isaiah 43:19). This is just a glimpse of His power and His ability. And He wants to do more for us. He wants to enlarge us, and He wants to make us instruments through which He can do so much more for the world.

The bible warns us to turn away from people who “have a form of godliness but deny its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). I interpret this to mean that if we say we believe in God, then we have to believe in ALL that He is, that we have to tap into the fullness and the limitlessness of His power. We cannot only believe in His existence but refuse to believe that He also has power to heal, to bring the dead to life, to make dreams comes true and to sacrifice His son for the sins of all. This means that we have to dare to have faith, crazy faith in Him. This means that we need to realise that it is only through His power that we are activated to do all that we are meant to do. So, let us move from being mere believers to being people who walk in the power of God. People who live lives without limits. Anything is possible here. Even the sky is not the limit here.

Have a blessed week and happy July 4th to my American friends.

Likeleli M.

Ground Shakers: Love Month Notes

We have been privileged to spend the past couple of Sunday afternoons at Ground Shakers campus ministry which is based at the National University of Lesotho. Every year, Ground Shakers has Love Month between January and February and the objective of this month is to open a platform of open communication about love and relationships for Christian youth.

The first week, our friends and pastors at Ground Shakers, Peter and Tracy Mahase shared their love story – that’s where Tracy shared her revelation about personality vs character which I wrote about in my last post Personality vs Character. This last Sunday was Stephen and I’s turn to share about our love story and I just felt I should share the things that we wanted the young people present to take away from our story:

  1. Find yourself and be firmly established in God and in who you are in Him before you pursue a relationship with someone else.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

2. Patiently wait on the Lord, and while you wait serve Him and serve your community.

” The Lord is my portion” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth” Lamentations 3:24-27

3. Understand your value and purpose, understand his/her purpose and ensure that your visions are aligned

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” Ephesians 2:10

“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” Amos 3:3

I will try to elaborate on these points in posts that follow as the year goes by, I believe for now these points speak for themselves.

May God bless you

Likeleli

Who has set your standards?

Do you have a personal constitution? Your own rules and regulations that you set based on your own personal values, standards, principles and beliefs? Most of us don’t, because most of us have always relied on other people to set the laws and regulations by which we conduct our lives for us. We have never even thought of setting them up for ourselves.

Most of us were born into houses that already had pre-determined rules and regulations that we were taught to follow – most of the time by hard-discipline – and we then automatically adopted these rules and regulations as our own over time and then carried them over into our childhood.

I gave our students an exercise to do today during a leadership development session. The exercise was for each individual to set their own laws, principles and standards which they would choose to govern their lives. One student said something so profound it motivated me to write this blog post. He said, “This is such a difficult exercise. I have never ever in my life had to make rules for my own life”. I responded to this by saying, “who has made the rules for you all this time?”

I guess that’s the question I am posing to you today, dear reader. Who have you allowed to make the rules by which you govern your life and your entire future? Has it been your parents? Your teachers? Your boss? Your government?

Have you ever stopped to wonder where these rules that you have automatically been following all your life originate from? Have you ever asked yourself if they even align with who you are and where you want to go in life?

Each and every organisation sets up a constitution based on its vision, which is it’s core purpose for existence. Likewise, I believe that as people we have to set up our own laws that govern our lives based on our vision and not based on principles that other people have decided to choose for their lives.

If we never take the time to set up the foundation of what governs our lives, then we will always be blown back and forth by the wind of time and of dominant opinions or ways of societies. But if we sit down and carefully consider how we would like our individual lives to be governed, then we set a framework that will help us to make clearer decisions about our lives as a whole and we set up for ourselves, a foundation which cannot be shaken.