I ended the first instalment of this high-profile and life-changing piece by saying that we hardly can grow on the condition that we do not experience the painful consequences of our poor character choices. There are growth-lessons that one may never learn until one burns his or her fingers. Some moths back, I met with two young females and spoke to them on the need for them to become visionary and focused, so as not to get impregnated when they were not ready for it. A few days back, I saw one of them with a protruding belly. Now, she knows better. She has grown as an effect of the painful end result of her poor choice of sleeping around without being ready for pregnancy while being a teenager.
The same thing is true when a wife tries to stop her husband from disciplining the children. As the husband gets ready to punish disobedient behavior, the wife cries, “No, no, do not do that!” In standing between the children and their father, she prevents them from experiencing the consequences of their disobedient actions. Instead of learning obedience, the children learn that if they make poor choices, mom will always be there to protect them from the corresponding backlash.
When parents do not take the rightful position in the disciplining of our children, consequences will step in to do it for us, by bringing the negative harvest of our children’s disobedience. If we insist on stepping in to “protect” them from their consequences, we will likely stop the very process that will ensure the transformation that they so desperately need. And if we continue to tolerate compromise and rebellion in our children, over a long period of time, we are in danger of seeing the day when they will be destroyed—without remedy.
None of us want to see our children not be up to snuff. But we must realize that they can only succeed and prosper as they learn to follow after character. It is our responsibility to teach our children what we, too, must learn: A lack of character reaps an unwanted future. There is no substitute for character—absolutely none. This is why I am terrified about the current generation of Nigerians we are raising. They are gifted and skillful, but they are terribly bankrupt in character.
We have to learn the difference between assistance (helping a person who is down) and interference (attempting to circumvent a person’s consequences). We must not stop consequences from coming to another person. If we bail him out, he will never learn or grow in character; and it won’t be long before he’s in the same jam all over again. Why is this true? Because, when we refuse to learn by instruction, consequences will readily take its place.
Furthermore, even obedience and suffering do constantly go together as five (5) and six (6) would. No one truly becomes obedient without suffering. When we were growing up, until a toddler would burn his fingers, he or she would never learn to avoid a hot lantern. Suffering and growth are as a Siamese twin! You cannot really grow without suffering. Please understand me that the breed of suffering I am talking about here has nothing to do with sicknesses and diseases. I am only speaking within the context of an unavoidable process. Remember, growth and comfort does not cohabitate.
For the umpteenth time, I am a little petrified about the current generation of Nigerians. We leaders place too much emphasis on gifts, but we rarely teach on character. Today, our people are so gifted, but they are bankrupt when it comes to character. Remember, no nation rises above the collective character of her people. If we do not want a wishy-washy nation in the days to come, then we need to radically do something that will change the trajectory of our current narrative.
A lack of character is the reason that, in years gone by, the lives of several tremendously gifted men and women ended hideously and horribly. We have often discounted the greatness of these fallen individuals because of the way their lives ended. Yet, no one can deny the exceptional accomplishments of their earlier years.
So why did their lives end the way they did? Why did they bring no fruit to maturity? Because they lacked strength of character. They refused to live their lives in a principled manner. Thus, they made themselves open game for destruction. This can all be summed up by the following principle: When our entire focus is on getting what we want, we will eventually lose what we had.
Once we start recognizing the consequences of bad character, it is easy to see why character is such an important issue in every generation. We must raise our standards high, for without them—we are as those who build houses on shifting sand. To go far in every sphere of life, you must develop rock-solid character.
Lastly, we honor people, but the truth is, we honor our principles more, because when people leave and ditch us as an effect of insubstantial and flimsy excuses and reasons, our principles would still stick with us and speak for us. This is why it is wrong to sacrifice your values to please folks. Those who compromise their values in order to please folks usually do regret it in the end. This is why it is very wrong to esteem people above your values that have taken many years to cook. Till I come your way again next week Monday, see you where rock-solid leaders are found!