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Treating Life as a Gift

With permission, I have extracted this picture quote from All rights reserved worldwide.

While leafing through a colourful, uplifting History book at the Kenya National Library in Upperhill, Nairobi, a couple of years ago, I came across a startling fact that the Sun will cease to burn about five billion years from now. (Yes, you heard it right - five billion years from now!) That means life on Earth will also cease to exist at around that time because it is the Sun that sustains us all in this grand and magnificent planet.

Methinks that when life on Earth will be about to end, God will summon the living and the dead for final judgement. And on that Judgement Day, God will not first ask us to recite the Ten Commandments. No. Instead, He will first inquire, "What did you do with the life and talents that I gave you?"

Yes, life is a gift from God. So are the talents that we all have. And like any other gift, we are the ones in charge of making our lives and talents meaningful and beautiful.

Take for instance a vase. If someone was to give us a vase as a gift, we can choose to hide it under the bed where it cannot be seen and broken. Or we can choose to put some water as well as flowers in it and display it in the living room where visitors can see and appreciate it.

Hiding the vase under the bed for fear of it getting broken has not made productive use of it. And nobody will ever appreciate it. But putting some water and flowers in the vase and showcasing it in the living room, where everybody can see it, has given the vase some meaning and purpose.

Similarly, the life and talents God gave us are meant for brightening the lives of others. We are all created to bring hope and inspiration on Earth. So we ought to utilize our lives and gifts bravely instead of hiding them for fear of criticism, rejection or ridicule.

However, there is a catch here: A vase is good for showcasing flowers but will break easily when used as a hammer for nails. Likewise, other than knowing what our gifts are, it is also important we have insight on where to apply them most effectively.

I don't know about you but as for me, I have already identified my talents. They are:
  • Cooking
  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Singing
  • Socializing
  • Networking
  • Gardening
  • Piano-playing
  • Story-telling
  • Public-speaking

There you have them: my talents, that is. What is most wonderful about them is that they are diverse enough to make each day of my life prosperous, healthful and interesting. I am praying to God to help me convert utilizing those talents from something I have to do to something I love to do. (Spotted the difference?) And I am also praying regularly that God opens for me doors of earning a living from some of those talents.

I beseech you to also join me in this exciting journey of using our talents. Identify them. Take time to develop them every day. Persevere when things seem not to be unfolding according to your plans. And remember what you want to do with ease, you must first learn to do with diligence. Over to you!


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Bill Clinton: A True Leader

This is the cover-page of Donald T. Phillips's The Clinton Charisma: A Legacy of Leadership which I once saw on a bookshop shelf in down-town Nairobi. Unfortunately, I have never had a chance to lay my hands on the book.

As I have written before in this lovely blog of mine, I first read the autobiography of Bill Clinton when I was a first-year student at JKUAT in 2007. Then I re-read it two more times in the next few years that followed. So I can now agree with Donald T. Phillips, the author of The Clinton Charisma: A Legacy of Leadership, that Clinton was a true leader; that is, a person genuinely interested in improving the welfare of people.

And how did Bill Clinton develop the heart of leadership? First, from the stories he heard from his relatives. Here's what he had to say about those stories in his autobiography:
I learned a lot from the stories that my uncles, aunts and grandparents told me ... that everyone has a story - of dreams and nightmares, hope and heartaches, love and loss, courage and fear, sacrifice and selfishness. All my life, I've been interested in other people's stories. I've wanted to know them, understand them, feel them. When I grew up and got into politics, I always felt the main point of my work was to give people a chance to have better stories.[1]
Secondly, Bill Clinton also acquired the heart of a leader from his mother. Here is what he said of his mother in the autobiography:
It was she who taught me to get up every day and keep going; to look for the best in people even when they saw the worst in me; to be grateful for every day and greet it with a smile; to believe I could do or be anything I put my mind to if I were willing to make the requisite effort; to believe that, in the end, love and kindness would prevail over cruelty and selfishness.[2]
Having acquired the heart of leadership from his mother and relatives, Bill Clinton went on to deliver speeches later on in his life that clearly brought him out as a man of the people. Take for instance his benediction speech to his high school class in which he prayed that God would:
leave within us the youthful idealism and moralism which have made our people strong. Sicken us at the sight of apathy, ignorance and rejection so that our generation will remove complacency, poverty and prejudice from the hearts of free men ... Make us care so that we will never know the misery and muddle of life without purpose, and so that when we die, others still have the opportunity to live in a free land.[3]
Then let's look at his 1979 inauguration speech as Arkansas Governor during which he said;
For as long as I can remember, I have believed passionately in the course of equal opportunity, and I will do what I can to advance it.
For as long as I can remember, I have deplored the arbitrary and abusive exercise of power by those in authority, and I will do what I can to prevent it.
For as long as I can remember, I have rued the waste and lack of order and discipline that are often too much in evidence in governmental affairs, and I will do what I can to diminish them.
For as long as I can remember, I have loved the land, air, and water of Arkansas, and I will do what I can to protect them.
For as long as I can remember, I have wished to ease the burdens of those who, through no fault of their own, are old or weak or needy and I will try to help them.
For as long as I can remember, I have been saddened by the sight of so many of our independent, industrious people, working too hard for too little because of inadequate economic opportunities, and I will do what I can to enhance them.[4]
And finally, let's look at the following farewell speech he delivered towards the end of his presidency in the year 2000:
I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Toni Morrison once said I was the first black president this country ever had. And I would rather have that than a Nobel Prize, and I'll tell you why. Because somewhere in the deep and lost threads of my own memory, are the roots of understanding of what you have known. Somewhere, there has been a longing to share the fate of the people who had been left out and left behind, sometimes brutalized, and too often ignored or forgotten.
I don't exactly know who I have to thank for that. But I'm quite sure I don't deserve any credit for it because whatever I did, I really felt I had no other choice.[5]
Those few speeches of Bill Clinton I have quoted adequately testify that Bill Clinton was indeed a true leader - don't you agree? No wonder he presided over unprecedented era of peace and prosperity in America during his presidency.

[1] [2] [3] [4] & [5] I have extracted this passages from My Life by William J. Clinton, published in the United Kingdom in 2005 by Arrow Books.


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