Take your work seriously! (The principle of Creative Diligence)

Hi dear readers!

I’m especially excited to be sharing this post today. It has sat in my blog drafts for months because the post wasn’t ripe yet, but the recent turn of events in my life has spurred me to reopen this muse.

I am so passionate about this principle I am learning every day and I think you need to see this, especially if you consider yourself to be a creative. This article is a little lengthy but I assure you – it’s worth reading to the end.

My post is not an attack on the wonderful professions of medicine, law, engineering, economics and many more which have immensely contributed to the progress in our world today – and professionals will continue to break grounds. So, if you are very passionate about your professional or conventional path, this post is not for you. However, you are welcome to glean the principle for application in any area of your life.

My post is tailored to the innate creative who is stuck in the stereotype.

If you consider yourself to be a creative in thought or in practice – if wonderful ideas daily tug your mind seams and threaten to burst forth, if your hands are tremulous until you have penned down those lines of prose or those sketches, if you have been misunderstood by family and friends and repeatedly accused of daydreaming or being unserious, this post is for you.

You don’t have to think long or hard before you realize that every aspect of daily living thrives on creativity. We all have, time and again, benefited immensely from the imagination of creatives – from writers, artists, broadcasters, podcasters, musicians, movie producers, photographers, publishers, writers, audiovisual content creators to app developers/programmers, video game creators, animators, scientific innovators and tech gurus. Yet, the age-old conventional stereotypes have classified these pursuits in many people’s hearts as mere hobbies or at best side-gigs.

Growing up in Nigeria, I can authoritatively say that one of the surest point of parent-teen tension is when the JAMB* forms are about to be filled. Chances are higher that the typical parent will be more delighted to hear the child has chosen to be a doctor rather than a creative designer, and a few teens have, sadly, had guardians stand over their shoulder as they filled the forms so they would pick their parents unfulfilled dreams.

Very little has changed over the years, as many people feel that the professional careers, while difficult, promises financial security upon graduation. I agree. The admission requirements into college for “professional” disciplines are stringent and the competition remains record high. I also agree – I went to Medical School! The discipline exerted by the professors, the structure of the discipline, the rigors of the long years of study and the importance of the subject of the discipline (human life in Medicine for example) makes the professions very noble. I agree.

On the flip side, many perceive the creative path to be flippant, not requiring diligence and surely not noble enough to be a career path or a full-time thing. For parents who fear for their children, you will have a hard time convincing them that art is more than a childhood hobby, possibly because it is usually associated with beauty, intrigue, exhilaration, its results appeal to the soul and seems to be mostly enjoyable to the consumer, and the creators seems to be having a fun time creating, they conclude that the process should not require diligence.

Somehow, I think this mindset has slowly crept into the minds of creatives and non-conventional people like me that we seem to be complacent and submit ourselves to the cage of stereotype. We are not taking our creative crafts as seriously as we should and we feel very ashamed about it among family and friends.

We believe the lie that it’s just a hobby. Come off it, creative one!

Statistics show that the creative industry is a major driver for economic growth. In America for example, the creative industry contributed $698 billion to the nation’s economy and 4.7 million jobs (a 2015 report of the the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts). I can only assume that many other countries have similar data.

Think about an area of your daily life where the creative industry is not relevant? A “special” area that creativity cannot help? I’d like to see your findings in the comments below.

The myth of the starving artist is over (thank you Jeff Goins for that!) Certainly, the myth of the “unserious” is past due too. Now is time to wake up, hone your craft, launch your dream and bring beauty and impact to our world with the power of your trans-formative creativity. The potential of your creativity is only limited to the extent of your imagination and tenacity of your diligence.

The creative industry wields so much power and it requires diligence! The creative path is more self-directed as opposed to the profession, but it doesn’t take away an ounce of diligence required to thrive and create beautiful work. In fact, it should inform it.

A doctor, lawyer or any other professional will always be respected and at least be able to pay the bills but I will dare say that what makes these career paths prestigious is the thoroughness that is constructed within the fabric of training and the impact these professions have on the world.

And Creativity has that! SURELY.

I have heard of families torn apart by a promising child’s revelation that he wants to go into some form of creative industry. I feel the pain writers go through to conceptualize the many ideas that brims into overflow in their wild minds. I see the disappointment in the faces of parents when their children take on a paintbrush rather than a scalpel, and the colicky pain that surges though the hearts of a misunderstood creative.

Do you say that a writer, artist or musician (or whatever kind of creative you are) has no impact or is less important in our world?

I don’t think so.

Rather, I opine that not many unconventional people have given due diligence to pursue their paths with dignity so the society does not see it. We do not take ourselves seriously so the world emulates us!

Here, I speak to you, creative one. Gone are the days of waiting for inspiration and complacency on talent. Tim Notke is spot-on when he says that “hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard.”

Take your creative work as seriously as a physician would take his procedures and patients or an attorney will take her depositions or court hearings…

If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.

You may not be a street sweeper but Martin Luther King Jnr has you covered when he says that “No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”

If you’re called to be a writer, painter, artist, musician, or minister (yes, this applies to spiritual ministers too) in any aspect, you must realize that your generation needs you as much as it needs the doctors, engineers, lawyers and other professionals. So, the least you can do is to dignify your strategic societal position by pursuing your path not like a hobby but with much diligence and thoroughness as a conventional professional would.

Even though there are fewer formal options of training, take your calling serious, study and learn all you can from the best mentors you can find. Spend un-clocked hours honing your craft and chart paths for posterity. Show up to work even when you aren’t inspired and Sit under the Muse till wonderful ideas drop in your spirit.

Creativity is tagged unconventional for a reason – Learn to chart the trail and set your milestones as you go.

When you become an authority in this, doctors will pay to view your exhibitions. Your books will touch millions and cross more borders than you will. Lawyers will use your words as anecdotes. Engineers will pay to listen to you. Intelligent Business school graduates will queue to apply for positions at your successful start-up. Professionals will sit under your voice and listen to you deliver counsel and your compositions will sanitize the most insane minds.

“Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men.” Proverbs 22:29

If you give due diligence in your work, you will stand tall among peers and kings and command confidence.

Please, carry your calling with dignity and you will see what fulfillment lies in a job well done!

You are important. The world needs you!

Cheers,

Toluwanimi

P.S. If this post does not make sense to you, then you are conventional, but it’s okay! But at least, you can be diligent in whatever path your life will take and you MUST respect the unconventional people in your life.

*JAMB – former name of the University entry exam in my home country, Nigeria.

The gift that keeps on giving

good-christmas-gifts-for-mom

It’s Christmas time.

Back in Nigeria, my home country, in my growing-up years, we weren’t so much exposed to sophisticated concepts like gift stockings hung at the fireplace or presents under the decorated tree on Christmas morning, save in the books we read.

Nevertheless, we understood what it means to give. And expect gifts at Christmas. We looked forward to new dresses and the sumptuous meals we would eat on Christmas. We also enjoyed the gift of family and friends that came to visit.

Yes. Every one thinks about gifts, in one way or the other. Across most cultures, the hallmark of Christmas is GIVING.

Well, it’s not surprising, because Christmas itself is the story of God’s gift to mankind. And that gift-Jesus – is the gift that keeps on giving.

When someone allows Jesus into his or her life, He comes in to transform the entire life. He forgives their sin, reconciles them back to God. And walks with them thorough life, straightening out their paths and leading them (according to Psalm 32:8), in the way we should go, and guiding them with his eye.

As they grow in their knowledge and fellowship with God, trusting and obeying His lead, He makes their lives an exciting exciting adventure. He daily loads them with benefit and makes them a blessing to others around them.

Simply, He touches very aspect of their lives till they are fully developed in Him. That’s the gift that keeps on giving.

As you do what you’re used to at Christmas or try new things, remember the greatest gift that keeps on giving. The best you can do is to connect to Jesus, and immerse yourself daily and fully into His life as you move into 2016 with renewed vigor.

He’s always near.

Cheers!

Toluwanimi

The night before Christmas

a-christmas-gift

It was a night before Christmas.
Clara stood in the rain. She watched as the old woman made her way to the limo, a helper hoisting an umbrella over her as she cuddled two brown shopping bags.
Lights were up in many buildings. Shoppers rang bells for Christmas sales. Adults and children jostled and shoved around her as the busy street bustle with activity.
“Move!” The honk of the horn ricked her back to the present. She skipped away from the middle of the road as the driver spewed curses at her as he zoomed off.
Clara knew what awaited her at the house. And she was not disappointed. She had hoped that Christmas would be different. That maybe mama would love her more.. or at least pay attention to her for once. Maybe take her out to buy a new dress. But in the last few days leading up to Christmas eve, mama seemed to run on a bad temper.
She unlocked the front door and flipped the switch. The lights were out.
Using the light from her phone, she made her way to the centre table. Mama left a note on the table.
Dinner in warmer. Out on night shift. Mama.
She sighed as she crumpled the brown paper and tossed into a nearby trash can.
As always, she would be alone and there would be no special times or gifts this year. Without family and friends, the house would be boring.
No love, no hope. And it was Christmas.

************************************

As Theresa stepped into the Limo, she looked through the window at the little girl that seemed to lock gazes with her. She looked so innocent, so free. She must be happy this Christmas.
If Sarah were alive, she would have been just a bit older. Well, if she had lived, she would have named her Sarah.
But she had spent her hey days living in the spotlights of Nollywood. If only she knew that she had one chance at conception. She would not have sacrificed Sarah to the Women’s clinic when she felt she was too happy to have a child.
Matthew’s pleas had fallen on deaf ears. Now, he was gone. No offspring. No love.
Christmas was bland now. If only her life could revert to the Christmas before she signed up for acting school. She would make better decisions.
If only.

************************************

Ismail pulled into the driveway, thoughts far from the present. Last Christmas was a swell time at the club. Her boss had promised to pay – this night would be fun too.
As soon as removed the key from the ignition, Farida came to mind. And the accident last year… He pictured the disappointment in his wife’s face when he walked into the hospital lobby that night, alcohol and vomitus staining his shit after the call, and couldn’t produce money for the hospital bills.
“Nothing would happen.” He consoled himself. It was Christmas anyway.

NOTE: This Christmas, around you, someone will need love, a message of hope and restoration, a gift of family or even a nice dress or food. Will you be able to offer something significant?

Think towards Christmas… and look for ways you can share of the fullness of Jesus you have received.

Cheers,

Toluwanimi

Stress Management

image

Most people, even young boys and girls live under stress. They do so many activities but get little results. At the end of the day, they feel beaten and defeated and just hope for a better tomorrow. Sad truth is that tomorrow happens just like today – then the cycle continues till…

Do you want to have an ordered life? Do you want to live a life that is stress free? The key to a stress free life is an ordered life, lived on purpose. Purpose is realized by proper evaluation of what God wants your life to be about: your priorities.

Make God the centre of your life: Acts 17: 27 tells us that we live move and have our being in God. List your priorities but remember that God (and your personal relationship with Him) is not a priority. He is in fact, the centre of your life – your lifeline – and every other thing revolves round Him. If he is made a priority, situations may warrant a juggling of priority positions and God may be shifted to the rear at times.

In the solar system, the planets revolve round the sun which is at the centre of the orbit. Each planet gets her fuel and energy for function from the sun and engage daily with the sun to fulfill the grand plan, while keeping their distance to the sun constant. If any planet gets closer to the sun that it should, it melts and if other drifts farther than planned, it is lost in space and I think could freeze if far enough. Even God balanced the earth on the waters and it is not moved.

Take the sun as your walk with God and the planets as your priorities.
Start your day with God, then, list your priorities as planets around God. Let God be the energy of your day; let Him interact with each of your priorities daily and pick out which is to be on your to-do list or which one to be referred or discarded. Do not emphasize any area of your life at the expense of others. The moment one area of your life e.g. academics, wrongly rises above another area, there will be an imbalance and stress comes in. When you choose play over work in your priorities, stress ensues.

Priority is not about what is more important but, with God at the centre, it means what God would have you pay attention to per time. For a Christian, all our priorities should revolve round God. If a priority is not kept in perspective to God, it creates a problem for life. That is why God starts and end the day and dictates the course of a man’s life.

Stress is cured by purpose.

Even as good as sleep is, it does nothing beyond what the day allows: I can sleep for ten hours and still not get rested while I can sleep for four hours and have a good rest – it is God that gives rest. Psalm 127:2

Stress is not managed by lifestyle modifications, but by aligning your priorities and essence of life with God’s grand plan.  

Create a balanced God-pursuing life and you will create a peaceful stress-free life.

Foot note: think of Romans 12:11-18 and consider what your priorities should be.

Cheers,
Toluwanimi

The Healer

Hello,

This is not a flash fiction, but a “flash-muse” which came to my heart yesterday morning. Read, reflect and recourse.

Many people think the suffering of Jesus was simply that of his death on the cross.

I beg to differ.

I recently studied John’s account of Jesus’ life and was alarmed at the amount of consistent mocking and opposition Jesus faced almost on a regular basis from the Pharisees and leaders.

“Blows will break my bones, but words won’t hurt me.”

Tell that to my foot.

Tell me constant opposition and harsh demeaning words don’t break even the strong man.

The Bible, through Isaiah called him “a man of sorrows, afflicted, despised, rejected.”
They always countered him and his words. You know that it is we that see Jesus as someone important – not them. We view Jesus with a glorious lens of divinity and power. They saw Jesus as a random guy.

“Ordinary carpenter’s son.” They snickered.

They always plotted to kill him. More than once, they tried to seize him, arrest him and push him off a cliff. They didn’t appreciate his miracles and good works. They accused him of having a devil, rather than glorifying God.

What more could trouble a man who gave all to the people that constantly tried to eliminate him!

Yet he held tenaciously to the claim of his identity with the father and the purpose of his life.

It wasn’t easy, but, to us and the whole world, it was worth it in the end.

If after all he experienced, he’s talking, then we need to pay attention.

So When he says he feels your weakness (Hebrews 4:15), he knows what he’s talking about. And he says he is able to help you when you come to his gracious throne to receive mercy and grace to help in time of need.

You haven’t faced a fraction of what Jesus faced. So what is that trouble? Or challenge?

Create your reality from the truth of God’s word and hold tenaciously to it until it comes to pass in your life.

That is faith!

And that is all what the healer requires you to do.

Happy Sunday,
Toluwanimi

The photographer

image

To call them a couple was kind of awkward. The word fitted more, young lovers. But what would you call them after decades?

I lived with them for the better part of my growing years so I know that they lived the principles they shared with those young couples that do visit them and ask questions about “how to go about it.” Whatever they said was like law.

The other day, I summoned enough courage to ask them how they got it right.

They didn’t rattle some seven or so steps to marital bliss… or some other haughty answers.

“God.”

“I know,” I thought. “Everybody covers up with that.”

But they were quite clear.
“It’s God. Whenever you involve him from the beginning of choice making and he remains involved deep into marriage, you can’t help but have joy.”

“Joshua!”

I looked up at the group of gorgeously dressed people- young and old- posing infront of me, impatiently beckoning to me.

“Oh.”

I smiled as I my mind drifted back to the present.

As I arranged the group finally, I could do little to reveal the faces of the celebrant couple from behind the giant butter cake. I wasn’t so much of a professional, but I could still get a manageable result.

By instinct, they all shouted “happy sixtieth anniversary.”

I clicked the shutter.

#counsel
#flash
# marriageandfamilylife.

Cheers,
Toluwanimi

P.s.: this is a pondering on what makes a marriage and family work.

Are you alone?

image

Helli.
Here’s a little piece on an issue I’m quietly passionate about. It’s not quite a typical controversial issue but has so much relevance to our joy and fulfillment as humans. Enjoy!

There is a God-shaped void in the heart of man that no human or material can fill. There is also a kind of “human-shaped void” that even God will not fill.

While man had a perfect relationship with God in the garden, God still alluded to the fact that man was alone when he said, “it is not good for man to be alone.” Then he fashioned a woman from him.

He was in a state of sinless perfection, but was still alone (how is that for a shocker?)

We are wired for human relationships, from cradle to grave. While you chase achievements in life, seek to connect with people too-friends, Family, neighbours, coworkers, spouse etc.

Nothing substitutes our need for human relationship. No one can survive alone.

Have you wondered how porcupines (those animals with defensive barbs that shoot at predators) reproduce? They have to withdraw their quills and mate.

I have heard people, on their death bed, regret accumulation of material things and accolades: I am yet to hear of one who regretted his or her relationship with people. It won’t happen.

Granted, human beings are weird and there can be so much hurt associated with Human relationships, (you inclusive), still, we can, as God teaches us and we yield, apply love and grace in our relationships.

Are you alone?
Step out and Connect with someone today. It will be worth it.

Cheers,
Toluwanimi

What about me?

A nameless woman.

She had been afflicted with an inexplicable bleeding for twelve years. No doctor had been able to help. Her condition worsened daily. She was a rich widow, whose sickness had stripped her of her wealth. Maybe she was not a widow –maybe her husband deserted her – we would never know.

She was nameless now, her only appellation a daily reminder of her condition: the woman with the issue of blood. No one knew her real name – she wasn’t relevant to the society. Everywhere she went, people let her know she was a third class citizen, if not less.

The nature of her disease was still under study – no results yet. The scientists and doctors of her day had not come up with a cure or treatment. They could do little to help. In fact, they could do nothing. They had inspected, palpated, percussed and auscultated. No definite diagnosis. Even if they knew, there was no plan of management. Her blood, urine and stool samples did not lead them anywhere. If there was an imaging device, it picked nothing.

There was no treatment available. She had to die. She had lost hope.

Or maybe not, because when she heard that Jesus was in town, she got up, her mind making up a plan. She had to meet the man who claimed to be the Son of God – if he could help.

But there was a problem. Her condition had caused her immense shame so much that she could no longer go out. But somehow, she managed to follow the trail of footmarks, thanks to the crowd that bustled, jostled and shoved each other just to catch a glimpse of the man who said He is the Son of God – the King of Glory. They barely noticed her, save few people who quickly flinched away on seeing her, and muttered expletives at her, but she didn’t care.

She went on, taking the risk to trust Jesus. It’s worth a try, I could hear her say. She resigned like the three Hebrew children: Even if I get mocked, I will get my healing. And if I don’t, it will be worth a try.

The people bumped against each other, struggling to keep His face in their view, wanting to hear His words and to receive the miracles and healing.

She couldn’t struggle. But her determined mind thought, “if only I can touch Him.” Then she slipped through the slits between by touching bodies. Her movement might have been slow, nevertheless, progressive, and focused on the aim: to touch the hem of His robe.

Her body may be sick and weak, but her mind was strong as ever. While everyone seemed to want to see Jesus and hold His hand, she was satisfied with and believed she would receive her healing by touching the edge of Jesus’ robe.

So while others reached up, elbow to elbow with others, butting anyone that stands in the way, she stooped down and sought the hem of that seamless garment.

“Who touched me?” The Master stopped dead in His tracks.

What a ridiculous question. The disciples could not believe what they heard.

“But master, you’ve got crowds of people on our hands. Dozens have touched you.” Peter responded.

But Jesus identified a seeker’s touch, not a mistake or the touch of the vast crowd who were pressing against Him, most of whom were lost in the frenzy. It was the touch of a human, desperate to contact the divine – the touch that always made a difference.

Many people are caught up in the religious rat race. We jostle and shove and fight our way to attention, pulling others down in the process. We struggle to catch a glimpse of God’s kingdom with our activities and service in Church, but we know it’s just for the records. For the accolades men will rain on us and the reputation we would get.

The true Midas’ touch is not one motivated by excitement, not from sycophants or spectators. But it comes from the faith of the heart and the will of the mind. It is the touch of someone that seeks the King above all things.

“Someone touched me; I felt power discharging from me.” Jesus spotted a power attracting touch – the touch that alerts Heaven and gets God’s attention.

When you touch Jesus, he calls you.

She realized she could not remain hidden. You can’t remain hidden when you touch Jesus. He will want to meet with you, because He’s excited on spotting a true worshipper.

She came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

She got her physical healing, and as you would expect, the spiritual one too. Jesus wouldn’t leave her without leading her into eternal life. He would give her the full package.

The touch of only a few persons makes a difference these days. Only a purposeful touch gets Jesus’ attention. A touch from the heart and mind prepared to meet Him. Not a show off but of a humble and believing heart. Isaiah 66:2.

Many would still remember the Greek mythology of King Midas, who, as a gift for his hospitality, was given the ability to turn everything he touched to gold. But this touch got Him into trouble.

But there is a touch greater than that of Midas’. It is the touch that makes an eternal difference. It is when men touch God.

Why do you seek Jesus? What makes you happy? Is it when you stand as a spectator of signs and wonders? Is it to be known as ‘he saw Jesus’ or to really know Him as a person?

Seeking God’s visitation and habitation? All you need to do is to touch God.

In our daily application of this truth, humility is a touch that draws God’s attention. An obedient spirit is a Midas’ touch. A sincere prayer is a touch that calls heaven’s attention. A diligent study of God’s Word with a mind to know God and obey Him with all you have will bring down God’s power over your life. A heart ready to live for Christ is one that touches God too.

The woman with the issue of blood came humbly. When you touch God with a humble and sincere heart, he comes after you. He looks for you and meets your greatness need with His great goodness.

Have you touched God?