It is 7.30am. Only one of the attendees to the Lapid Leaders seminar is seated and rearing to go. That’s not too bad. We are African timers afterall right? Up until its 830, the official starting time of the seminar, there are only 5 people in the room. 5! This is sad as it gets, where are the 20 something people that had indicated they’d come for the seminar? I want to scream. A give myself a pep talk; perhaps traffic was bad, they will be here in a short while. I check my phone for missed calls several times; perhaps the attendees got lost and are attempting to reach me on my cellphone. But wait, there are no missed calls. Its 845, we are now 7. Time for a corner room discussion with God.
I find a pretty corner room, I stare at the walls. What went wrong Lord? What am I supposed to do now? This is not even a quarter of the people I expected? These moments are the hard rock corners of any faith in God. Many times you will hear the likes of me saying we love God for who He is and not necessarily the stuff He blesses us wit. However, it’s only in moments like this that you know what Job meant when He said ‘though you slain me, yet I will trust you’.
So the sulking continues. In between this sulking moment, holding a blank look and staring at the walls, the Lord speaks.
He says, did I not tell you ‘I will build my church’? Yes you did Lord, but people not attending the seminar is not the way to build the church. Then He says I will build my church again. Almost like He is telling this hard head of mine that He will build it how He builds it, not how I think He should.
I stare at the walls again. Do I have the courage to go with a 7 people seminar when I was expecting 20 something? Can I? Should I? In that moment He reminds me of the parable of the shepherd that leaves the 99 sheep to go in search of the 1. This Lord has a sense of humor. That parable has always been a parable of God’s grace to me, I see now it is a parable of ‘1’ transformed life’. A light bulb moment, even for 7 I will still do this. For only two I will pour out what God has placed in my heart; for even one; so I stop staring at the walls and ask God for the grace to continue.
Back to the room. Mental count, we are now 10. Well not too bad, right? And the seminar starts. The first stone of this seminar has been rendered, He has dealt with my pride. He has reminded me why I am doing this, it is not for the fame, or for the numbers. It is in obedience to what He has placed in my heart. This is a battlefield. I attempted taking up the weapons once before, I failed miserably. His battle.
Soon we are 15, soon we are 19. A far cry from what I’d hoped for, a far cry from the previous seminar. There are lessons here to be learned. Father, I am the clay, You are the Potter. I will enjoy some of the lessons, I will hate some. This is one of those I hate.
The lessons continue
I know in my heart the lessons are not over yet. Day 1 ends. When I stopped counting the numbers, I actually begun to enjoy the seminar.
God is equipping these 19 to be leaders not just of Kenya but Africa in general. We have speakers representing 5 countries, South Africa, Guinea, Zimbabwe and Kenya. All these speakers are sharing their personal story at the marketplace. There is a common theme, a theme I was actually unaware of as I planned this seminar. The common theme is integrity and innovation.
These speakers have had career defining moments when they had to make choice between upholding their integrity and conforming to existing patterns at the marketplace. They chose integrity. This choice has determined what their careers became. They are telling the students, using practical own examples, to know the values they represent and refuse to conform to anything contrary to this. They are telling these young guys to refuse to tolerate corruption, to live disciplined lives, to live out excellence in their workplace.
The second common factor among the speakers is that they are all solution providers, they what makes an individual distinguished at the marketplace, is the desire and effort to provide solutions to problems at the workplace.
My personal take out
But the conversation on integrity and innovation is not my personal take out. Remember God had a personal lesson for me. Well, here it is.
In the last blog I posted how God has been telling me He will build Lapid; that I should lean not on my understanding. I mentioned in that blog that I was struggling to understand what that means.
You see we live in a world where seemingly it is our great wisdom and efforts that build empires. You come up with strategies, you do everything possible, and then perhaps God blesses it and then you succeed. It rarely is the reverse; that we ask God to provide us with strategies that we need to succeed. We work based on this common statement that I am yet to meet with in the Word of God ‘God blesses those who help themselves’. So we get busy helping ourselves. We don’t even realize as we dig this hole. This was the crack of the struggle I was having.
Then one of the speakers, a friend, shared his story. He is a member of the Executive team of a multinational. The students are keen to understand what it takes to get where he has. However, his answer seems to leave the students frustrated. They probe more, ask the same question in a different manner. His answer is still not a long list of to-to-dos. His paraphrased answer is, ‘I have worked with brilliant people. In my current workplace, I am the only African in my team. I work with people who have been in the field for longer years that I have been working. This has been the theme of my life. Why you may ask? What did it take? Simple, the Grace of God. No amount of brilliance or plans would have gotten me to the path I often get myself in. Only the Lord would have done it.’
As I sit there I know this is the lesson God had in store for me. I look back at the journey that has been my life, favor is the common story. God in His mercy has lifted me up. It is the story of Joseph, it is the story of Daniel, unmerited favor.
We conclude that session with an important thing added into the list of what it takes to succeed. This one has shot to the top of the list, God’s Hand, Favor. We can have many plans, we can have many to dos, but unless the Lord builds a house, those who labor in vain. Unless the Lord builds Lapid Leaders, I will labor in vain. Unless He gives us unmerited favor with students, speakers, media and every other aspect of Lapid, we will labor in vain. So Lord I get it, You will build this house.
And with this lesson, the second foundation of this house is in place. It is a lesson that could only be learned through the 19 and not 20 something people that I expected. I am learning there are things I need to unlearn and learn. There are many more practical lessons I need to learn from these numbers, but these is the greatest lesson, God will build His Church and no gates of hell will prevail against it.