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An Epistle to a Younger Sister

#iRemember | Episode 321
 
I had a chat with one of you last night—one of those that I know quite well outside of being a group member. She wanted to discuss about the guy-pressure that was going on in her life. The conversation ended up with me writing an epistle to a ‘younger sister I never had’. I thought the points I raised in the epistle will help a handful of you in your first or second year in Uni and within the age range of 18 and 21. Below is a reproduction of the epistle but with an anonymised identity of the sister in question.
 
And yes, brothers will learn from this as well.
 
After my sister had told me about the 7 brothers disturbing her 19-year-old beautiful self and asking of my opinion, I thought to digress and ask her a question as well:
 
“Is there a young married woman that you look up to and really admire and hope that you will grow up to become like?”
 
After a little clarification about what I meant by my question, she answered: “Your wife, Anu.”
 
What follows below is the epistle I sent to her afterwards:
 
_____________________________________________________________
 
I will tell you why I asked you that question…
 
If someone had asked me the same question as a guy back in my first or second year in Uni, I also have a few young men that I could think of at the time—people that I really admire and hope to grow up to become like. And I spent my University days trying to follow in their footsteps.
It’s good to have such people in our lives that we can use what we know of their story to assess or interpret our current phase—not with the intention of becoming photocopies but simply because they’ve been there. They’ve gone through the phase we are now going through and they made decisions at that stage that got them to the enviable status that they now occupy. If we could learn from the decisions they made back when they were at the stage we are in, we could also go on to become fulfilled in our individual pursuits by making similar decisions.
 
My wife is not perfect. Neither is any other person you may think of. But if there’s one thing I know about Aanu (and few other people that I can think of in that category on your behalf), it’s the fact that they didn’t give themselves to ‘guys wahala’ while they were in University.
 
That didn’t mean that they didn’t have friends that were guys. It simply meant that they didn’t make being someone’s girlfriend part of their University agenda.
 
They knew that their focus at that stage of their life was to grow and develop as much as they could SPIRITUALLY and ACADEMICALLY.
 
They knew that if they could get those two right at that stage of their lives, when it’s really time to get a husband, God will bring the right young man their way.
 
You’ll be 20 this year.
 
I honestly think you shouldn’t even bother yourself about taking ANY guy seriously at this point. If a guy is running after you and saying all sort of sweet nonsense to you now, it’s just what it is. A pretty young lady like you will definitely have many suitors. It is absolutely NORMAL. But you must be able to stand your ground and say no to them. They are nothing but DISTRACTIONS.
 
There’s a stage you get to as a Christian lady in the University when you know that you are ready for a marriage-bound relationship (that is, a relationship with a guy that is not just asking to date you but to actually marry you because he believes you are God’s choice for him). Most sound Christian ladies I’ve met get to that stage in their final or penultimate year in Uni. At that stage, they know they have laid a solid foundation for their academics. They are beginning to see a beautiful prospect of a good career. And when that brother comes and says whatever he wants to say, they know that it is time—and can discern if he’s the one for them or not…
 
If what I know of you is anything close to reality, then you are still far from getting to that stage—and that’s okay. Don’t rush yourself. But whatever you do now, endeavour to release yourself to serve in the fellowship you are attending in your Uni and in your church back at home. Take on responsibilities that will strengthen you internally. Take your academics very seriously and deal with the challenges that arise in your academic life as they appear. As you do these things, you are making eternal investment into your worth in life. At the end of the day, you will be glad you did.
 
Back to the example you cited—my wife. Like I earlier said, she’s not perfect and neither am I. But our wedding ended up going viral on the internet basically because of two things:
 
1. The fact that she got married on the same day she’s graduating with a First Class in Law.
 
2. The fact that we are both Christians who chose to have a very simple unexpensive wedding.
 
It takes a lady that has set her priorities right to get to that point. Our wedding was supposed to be a very quiet one—so quiet that I didn’t even inform members of the Alive Group till a day or two before the wedding. But God himself decided to publicise it as a testimony to many other Youths out there that it pays to be virtuous and to wait and be diligent.
 
I see you as my sister from another mother—a younger sister I never had—and I desire the very best for you. So take this is a brotherly advise from your big brother.
 
If you commit yourself to any relationship now, you will jeopardise your academics. It’s as simple as that. There are no two ways about it. But if you could let guys be for a couple more years while you work on developing yourself in various other ways, you will be eternally grateful to yourself that you did.
 
I’ll be at your wedding, God willing. And we will both remember this long post that I sent to you on a night in January in 2018 and we will thank God for His faithfulness together.
 
I love you so much, my sister.
 
Hope to talk to you soon.
 
Sweet dreams.
 
Your brother.
 
_______________________________________________________________
 
A final word:
 
Guys, you too should help these sisters. Stop running up and down after these pretty ladies when you are yet to know what you want to do with the rest of your life. Give yourself to a discovery of your purpose and your mission here on earth—and in my understanding, if you take the pursuit of purpose discovery very seriously, it takes a good part of your University life if not all of it.
 
So get to work. Yes, the sisters are looking irresistibly beautiful and you want to have the prettiest for keeps as early as you can, but guess what, your definition of ‘pretty’ is warped until your purpose is in clear view. You are in your first year and you are running after a girl, is that what you came to Uni to find?
 
Okay. I’ll stop there. I’m beginning to switch to a mode that will get on the wrong side of the superficial reader…lol
 
Love you all.
 
May the Lord order our steps—guys and ladies alike—in the fullness of His will for us in Jesus name.
 
Amen.
 
I hope that helps one or two of us today.
 
josephkolawoleola
 
#iRemember is a daily mentoring retrospective look at Chronicles of our past—my wife and I—drawing life lessons from past experiences. It is exclusive to members of Alive Mentorship Group—an online mentorship platform for young adults across the world that provides an avenue to learn practical life lessons across geographical barriers. If you will like to be a part, just click here and/or get added to the Telegram group here.
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Disappointed by God?

#iRemember | Episode 325
 
Author’s Note: This post was first published in May 2013 shortly after the UTME results for prospective University students in Nigeria were released. At least three of the young chaps whose stories were told in this post are presently members of the AMG family. Happy Reading!
 
I looked at all of them-all 7 of them. They were full of questions. A good number of them saw their UTME results right in my presence. 189. 154. 160. 148. 128. 053. Woeful scores. Only one of them had above 200-he had 226. I knew they were full of questions-anyone could tell. And since I spoke with them a night before their examination, I thought it wise to gather them together again and speak with them now that the results have been released.
 
“Before we progress, does any of you have questions-for God-for me-or for us?”
 
I’d hardly asked when their hands shot up in quick successions.
 
“Pastor Kola, before the exam, God told me to work for Him as I prepare for the examination. That was why I joined the Ushering Unit. And just before the exam, He gave me a reassuring word from 2 Corinthians 1:20 that His promises are ‘yea and amen’. So how do I explain the 128/400 score?” Sincere questions from Sister Ruth.
 
“My own question is this: ‘why must I score 154?'” Who has an answer for Brother Faith?
 
“Pastor, see, that night when you spoke to us about maintaining our integrity in the exam hall, I went to the examination hall the next day and did just that. Cheating in my hall was ‘free’, yet, I maintained my integrity, faced my work and got out when I was done. So is 160 the reward of my faithfulness?” I felt for Brother Gideon.
 
And what about Sister Mary? She was at a ministration the night before the exam, and according to her, the Pastor’s wife of the church where she ministered had even called her out and prophesied success into her life after the ministration since she sacrificed her time for God. And what was the end-result? 053. (Only her English result was released).
 
They were all full of questions. Understandably so. (I know my Western friends would find this absurd. Whatever scores they got is what their efforts amounted to. If they had prepared a bit more, then they would have had better results True. I absolutely believe so and in my estimation, these guys didn’t prepare well enough. But in my country, what translates into a good result goes beyond your preparation. There seemed to be a spiritual dimension as well to these things. There must be.)
 
Before I proceeded, I asked a question, too.
 
“How many of you think that deep down inside of you, there is perhaps something that you did or didn’t do that could have led to this undesirable result?” And my! How they all had one such thing or the other. Fear and Doubt topped their list. And that became my starting point . . .
 
I’m not writing to those that failed UTME, or at least, didn’t get satisfactory grades. No. I’m writing for people who felt they deserved something better than what they currently have or are going through. I’m writing to anyone that has ever felt disappointed by God like these teenagers that I Pastor.
 
If you cheated and failed, congratulations! If you cheated and you passed, watch how your life will be fast-forwarded in your very eyes only to enter an automatic rewind at some junction in the nearest future. And your latter end shall be worse than your beginning. But if you are God’s child and you’ve felt cheated by God (or still feel so), to you I write, UTME or no UTME.
 
The qualification that earned me the boldness to speak with such people is because I’ve been there.
 
Was it not God that gave a nod of consent to the trip I embarked upon with some colleagues in 2009? A trip to a wedding turned out to be a trip to the bush, to the hospital, to the police station, and to the cemetry-to bury a dear brother.
 
Was it not God that spoke to my church through a prophetical message years back that one of our Elders that was sick and hospitalized will be restored only to hear later that night that the man is late?
 
Where was God when BCH 304 results were being compiled and in a curios series of events, my name was tagged with the grade 32F? (after the Course Coordinator had generously buffered every student’s score with an additional 5 marks)
 
Truth is, we’ve all been there-where our questions are more than the answers we get. But these few things I know:
 
1. I ACTUALLY DON’T “DESERVE” ANYTHING FROM GOD.
On what basis do I deserve an ‘A’? On what basis do I deserve to go on a trip and return safely? On what basis do I deserve to have my prayers answered? . . . but for His Grace and Mercy-both neither merited nor deserved!
 
But maybe you quite agree that you don’t deserve anything from God and you’re already a customer of His Grace, then you might be asking, why didn’t His Grace and Mercy speak on your behalf? Why was the grade so poor when you are a candidate of His Grace? Why did you have to lose that beloved relative or friend despite your prayers of mercy and grace? Then I have a second reminder:
 
2. I CAN ONLY RECEIVE ANYTHING FROM GOD ON THE BASIS OF FAITH!
James 1:5-7 comes to mind.
 
James 1:5-6 KJV If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
Verse 7 says “A person who has doubts shouldn’t expect to receive ANYTHING from the Lord” (God’s Word Translation).
 
Someone said it this way: “Feed your doubts and your faith will starve. Feed your faith, and your doubts will”.
 
Have you truly received His grace by FAITH? Have you prayed for that desired result WITHOUT DOUBTS? Have you decreed your desire in FAITH? If your answer is “YES”, then I can’t help but wonder what you understand by FAITH . . . and that leads us to the next point . . .
 
3. FAITH IS NOT THE BELIEF THAT GOD WILL DO WHAT YOU WANT. IT IS THE BELIEF THAT GOD WILL DO WHAT IS RIGHT.
Faith is not the believe that you will pass because you want to pass; faith is the believe that God has got your life in His hands and is free to use any tool He desires (even failures) to shape it into the best life it can be. Faith is the believe that ALL THINGS indeed work together for the good of God-Lovers!
 
And when the limits of faith seems exceeded, just TRUST! While faith believes that God can do a thing and hopes that He does it, Trust believes that He can do it, hopes that He does it and also understands that EVEN IF HE DOESN’T, HE IS STILL GOD! (Daniel 3:17).
 
In conclusion, I may not have an answer to the questions of my teenage friends that I spoke with in my office yesterday . . . but I’m sure of the fact that God does not disappoint. Anyways, life is life. Earth is earth. Heaven is heaven. And I’ve learnt to lower my expectations of earth. This isn’t Heaven, so I don’t expect it to be.
 
And I’m sure, anyways, that you weren’t an accident. You weren’t mass produced. You aren’t an assembly-line product. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on the earth by the Master Craftsman. You are the only you God made … God made you and broke the mold. You are unique! So the past does not have to be your prison. You may have written UTME 5 times, but you still have a voice in your destiny. You have a say in your life. You have a choice in the path you take. And you can sit with God and plan out the next 1 year of your life. Or the rest of it altogether. Affliction shall not arise a second time.
 
Remember, God loves you just the way you are. With your 053 or 226, he loves you. He loves each one of us like there is only one of us to love . . . but He refuses to leave us that way. He wants us to be just like Jesus. And He goes to any extent to get that done. He uses any tool to make that happen. Failures, successes, delays, speed, good news, bad news, and JAMB. Yes, JAMB.
 
Why not let go . . . and let God!
 
And who says that low score of yours can’t get you an admission this year?
Who says that genotype can’t change before tomorrow morning?
Who says that sack letter can’t be revoked tomorrow by another letter calling you back with promotion?
Never you forget; IMPOSSIBLE is one of God’s favourite words!
 
I celebrate your New Found Hope!
 
Amen.
 
Author’s End Notes:
1. UTME is UNIFIED TERTIARY MATRICULATION EXAMINATION which is the examination that Nigerian Students write in order to gain admission into an institution of Higher Learning. It is anchored by JAMB-Joint Admissions Matriculation Board
2. I found it interesting that about two years after this post was published, all the guys whose stories were told had gained admission into one tertiary institution or the other-except the guy that scored more than 200. Indeed, the race is not to the swift…
 
#iRemember is a daily mentoring retrospective look at Chronicles of our past—my wife and I—drawing life lessons from past experiences. It is exclusive to members of Alive Mentorship Group—an online mentorship platform for young adults across the world that provides an avenue to learn practical life lessons across geographical barriers. If you will like to be a part, just click here and/or get added to the Telegram group here.
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On Repeated Academic Failures

#iRemember | Episode 326
 
“Disappointed by God” came at the right time for a good number of you. As a result, a number of you sent me personal messages to share about a personal ‘disappointment in God’ scenario that you are going through. Interestingly, a good number of them are academic.
 
As such I thought to reshare my answer to two of you for the benefit of many more…
 
Case 1: The sister had just seen virtually all her first semester results for her first year in Uni and the results are really bad. Besides failing one course, she’s got quite a number of ‘let my people go’ grades that would put her GPA at a low 2-2 or even worse. Apparently, a lecturer had mentioned to her class that your GPA at the end of your first semester may end up being your final CGPA at the end of your studies.
Below are my thoughts to her…
 
Hi Beloved.
Apologies for waiting this long before responding to your message.
 
I know what it’s like to start off in Uni on the “wrong foot” in terms of grade, but I am persuaded that with a better understanding of what works best for you in terms of study times, study patterns, and a general awareness of your limitations shaping your preparation, you will be alright.
 
You are still finding your footing. That’s what these scores are about. I also started off in OAU on a 2-2 GPA but I ended with a 2-1 CGPA so don’t believe that this is how it will always be.
 
However, there might be certain changes you’ll have to make. You may have to do some try-and-error first but at some point you will breakthrough into what works for you. Possible areas to reexamine would include:
 
1. Reading times.
2. Reading venues.
3. Reading partners.
4. Note taking in lectures.
5. Getting more helpful materials and handouts.
6. Enrolling in tutorials.
7. Shedding off some responsibilities.
 
To expatiate on the 7th point, I noticed you mentioned holding a position of responsibility in your introduction. Is that a departmental or fellowship role? In any case, I think taking up such extra-academic responsibility in your first year isn’t a wise decision. If it’s something you can shed off (and any other unnecessary commitments, too), please, do. It’s not laziness or irresponsibility; it is wisdom in preparing for a stronger future academically and otherwise.
 
In summary, the major point to make is that this is just the beginning and you still have over 75% of the time you will spend on campus right ahead of you. The past is past; the future beckons. Accept the invitation and go for it.
 
I wish you the very best.
 
And you will be in our prayers.
 
Case 2: A brother who has been out of Secondary school 6 years ago has attempted UTME countless times without being able to gain admission each of those times. That can be really perplexing and wearying. He wants to know my ‘verdict’ on this and to find out if faith is enough to bring about a miracle (since he’s released his faith again and again believing that the admission will come through but always coming short).
Below are the thoughts I shared with him…
 
Hi Beloved.
Apologies for just responding to your message.
 
Who am I to give you a verdict on this? ?
 
But let’s reason together on a few points:
 
1. Is Faith enough to bring about a miracle?
I think we both know the answer to that. Jesus did miracles where there was no faith involved (eg the man at the pool of Bethesda who when asked what he wanted kept telling stories), but again, there are miracles that did not become complete until the beneficiary had to do something (like the blind man who Jesus sent to wash his face in the pool of Siloam). So, yeah, miracles happen on either side of faith.
 
But…
 
2. What makes you think that it is a miracle that you need for your admission to come through?
I understand how desperately you’ve sought for this and worked for it in previous years without any headway but it still sounds to me like something that will happen when adequate preparation meets God’s favour. This is not to undermine your previous attempts but to charge you to refire harder at your next attempt. Great biographies are shaped in such crucibles as what you are going through.
3. What makes you think that you even need an admission/University education to become all that God intends for you to become?
I am a big proponent for getting educated to whatever level you can afford (or opportuned to). But again, I’m aware that God delights in making different melodies and painting different arts with the stories of our lives. Perhaps, there’s something else God wants to use this repeated rejection to point you to, but you’ll need to explore and process that under God. It’s not for me or anyone to say to you emphatically, but I thought to open up your horizon to that possibility.
 
In any case, your future is secure in Christ. The good thing is that you know Him already and He’s the one ordering your steps in His Will. Let Him do what He does best.
 
I understand that waiting can be painful especially when you practically see your colleagues leaving you behind (so to say), but you are not working by their clock.
 
At the end of the day, our times are in God’s hands and He makes all things beautiful in His own time.
 
It is well, my brother.
 
God’s got your back.
 
I shared these so we could find further convergence points in processing our respective disappointments in God. For example, the brother in Case 2 would do anything to be where the sister in Case 1 is. But they are both where God wants them to be.
 
Whatever may be your story, just remember that God’s not done with you, and the end of your story is glorious. That’s how He writes His stories. He can’t help it. It will always end in GLORY. Hang on.
 
I also found an old post which I will post next to further address the issue of repeated academic failures. I hope it helps.
 
May God revive His work in our lives. Amen.
 
#iRemember is a daily mentoring retrospective look at Chronicles of our past—my wife and I—drawing life lessons from past experiences. It is exclusive to members of Alive Mentorship Group—an online mentorship platform for young adults across the world that provides an avenue to learn practical life lessons across geographical barriers. If you will like to be a part, just click here and/or get added to the Telegram group here.
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When I failed…

#iRemember | Episode 269
 
In this post, I’ll touch on two things:
 
1. When you trusted God that you will pass…and still failed.
2. When you seem to keep failing repeatedly.
 
So one of us sent me a message the other day (barely two weeks ago) after she saw the result of one of her courses in her Masters Programme. In her very own words:
“…the lecturer has been really strict…in all the three sets of [continuous assessments] which amounted to 30%…I tried all I could…and ended up with 14/30. I PRAYED “EARNESTLY” BELIEVING IN GOD FOR A BETTER GRADE IN THE REMAINING 70% [exams]. I studied hard…he repeated past questions; they were easy and God was faithful to bring all I read to my remembrance… I checked my grade today and I “failed the course”. I just can’t believe it… I just can’t fail! I trust God so much—like without doubt…”
 
Sounds like what a good number of us could have written. Here’s what I had to say to that…
 
1. That you trust God so much without a doubt doesn’t exclude failing from your possibilities. In fact, it most certainly adds failing to your options.
 
FAITH is believing that God CAN do something and hoping unwaveringly that He WILL do it. On a higher plane, TRUST is believing that God CAN do it, absolutely hoping He WILL…and understanding that EVEN IF HE DOESN’T, He’s still got everything in His charge!
 
2. While writing this paper next year can be disheartening (not to mention the N30,000 you’ll have to pay to register the course next year), it’s not as shameful as you think! Failing is part of life. It happens to even the very best of us. I’m also on a Masters’ Programme currently in the UK and I’d failed one of my modules because I had 49% and the pass mark for all my courses was 50%. That was painful and disheartening. But no, it wasn’t shameful as it turned out that more than half of the class were in my shoes. (Even if it was only me, it still wouldn’t have been a thing of shame).
 
While others were furious with the lecturer, I went to him (because he had given us the liberty to come and see him in the feedback he sent to all of us so that he can advise us on where we need improvement). I went to him and he pointed out my flaws. I learnt and did better in the Reassessment. (Here, you are permitted to retake a coursework you fail almost immediately afterwards). I had 66% in the re-sit but the programme policy is that no matter what you score in a re-sit (even if you score 100%) as long as you pass it, your overall score for that module is capped at 50%.
 
So in essence, I went through all that re-sit just to earn an extra 1% to add to my former score. But I wasn’t bitter about it.
 
So if nothing could be done about this score you have, it’s absolutely not shameful to take it again whenever.
 
Now to those who are failing repeatedly…
 
Again, here are a few thoughts:
 
1. I don’t think that’s normal. You need to ask yourself some hard questions and be sincere with yourself in your response. For instance:
 
a. Do I really have the capacity to pursue this course that I’m studying?
You don’t bite more than you can chew and expect God to force it down your throat. At best, He will pull off the excess from your mouth and leave you with just that which He had gifted you with a capacity to handle.
b. (Or even more fundamentally) Why am I studying this course?
Why? Because you (or worse still, your parents/guardian) think that this is the only/best course that will guarantee you a bright future? Or because you are sincerely passionate about the course? Or because that’s what ‘the school offered you when you couldn’t meet the cut-off mark for the course of your choice? These reasons aren’t bad in themselves but they have the common element of setting you up for a journey you may not have been equipped to pursue.
 
If only many can be like my best friend—Daniel. We both gained admission into OAU in 2005. We both didn’t get the course we wanted. I found myself studying Microbiology and he, Zoology. While he had the boldness to take another UTME and eventually got admitted to the course of his dreams—and had to start all over—I didn’t have the same courage. (I wasn’t even sure if I had any ‘course of my dreams…lol)
 
c. You can’t do it the same way you did it before and expect a different result.
That’s simple but profound!
Before, you were always getting late to the class and you hardly had a good note for the course and this time you hardly even went to class. Tell me, what miracle were you expecting? Before, you did it in fear. Before the results were out, you were scared it wouldn’t speak good. You were right then. If you maintain the same disposition now, chances are high you’ll get the same response.
 
d. Have I learnt from the previous failure?
If you don’t learn the lesson your failure seeks to teach you, you will make the same mistake again and again!
 
e. Finally, who is Your King and what is He saying to you about your failures?
The book of Judges in the Bible is a book of an unpleasant cycle that the Israelites kept going through, viz:
They will desert God. God will send an enemy to terrorize them. God will raise a Judge to deliver them from that enemy. They will serve God for a while. Then they will return to deserting God… and the cycle continues! But the book gave us a clue at the beginning and the end of the book—the very last verse in fact. It says ”In those days, THERE WAS NO KING IN ISRAEL AND EVERYONE DID WHAT WAS RIGHT IN THEIR OWN EYES.”
 
When you live life on your own terms and by your own wisdom, that’s what you get! But when you are led by The King, He surely must have something to say to you for every failure you encounter—IF YOU ASK HIM.
 
Maybe tomorrow, I will share with you the testimony of a course I took in my second year where I had the highest score throughout my 4 years at OAU and how that came about.
 
I speak into your life as one that is privileged to have a voice in your destiny that if there be any yoke of failure that has held any of you bound, such yoke is broken permanently by the anointing today.
 
Here’s a question to #askJesus2day:
“Jesus, can we dance a victory dance together this morning as I celebrate the end of my cycles of failure” [I can hear His yes already—what are you waiting for?]
 
PRAYER
Lord, thank You for opening a new page of victory for me IJN.
 
Amen!
 
josephkolawoleola
 
#iRemember is a daily mentoring retrospective look at Chronicles of our past—my wife and I—drawing life lessons from past experiences. It is exclusive to members of Alive Mentorship Group—an online mentorship platform for young adults across the world that provides an avenue to learn practical life lessons across geographical barriers. If you will like to be a part, just click here and/or get added to the Telegram group here.