Highway To Success

The question of whether Nigerian graduates are employable or not has generated a lot of debate in recent times. Some employers posit that a large percentage of Nigerian graduates which they interview or sometimes even employ lack basic knowledge of their area of study. Worse is the complain from some quarters that some of them even lack basic literacy skills, that means, they find it difficult to read or spell some common words correctly. Some complain that they lack basic grammatical skills, this means that they find it difficult to express themselves in simple English which is the official language.

In the last strike action embarked on by the University lecturers, they claimed that inadequate infrastructure and training facilities does not help the present predicament of rolling out perceived unemployable graduates, it rather fuels it.

Another dimension in this debate is the argument that even though Nigerian graduates roll out in thousands yearly, there are not enough jobs to accommodate them and yet they lack entrepreneurial skills. This has made the Nigerian Universities Commission compel Nigerian Universities to include entrepreneurship in the curriculum as a compulsory course for every university student.

However, there is a fundamental problem which I perceive; being one who has passed through that system myself, though in a private setting. It is the problem of how students have a myopic view of examinations. They limit examinations to the tests and examination questions set by their lecturers and so all they are concerned about is how to scale through in those set of exams so that they can get their certificates and move ahead in life. That is why it doesn’t really matter to them whether they get to have a knowledge of the contents of a particular course as long as they can pass the course anyhow. Whether by cramming, cheating in exam or buying the score from the lecturer in cash or in kind. And so what do you expect from someone who has bought a certificate? Gross incompetence, unbelievable lack of basic literacy skills, inability to apply themselves in their area of study in the real world and so on.

They are concerned about the school exam while neglecting the other examinations which the marketplace brings after school. That is why many believe that examination is not a true test of knowledge. They believe this to be true because they limit the definition of examination to those set of questions administered by your teacher, but if we were to consider the many examinations that there are out there in the real world, we might well say that examination is a true test of knowledge. In any case, examination is a good enough test of knowledge.

Perhaps the reason why students focus so much on passing examinations as more important than acquiring knowledge and learning is because we have somehow created an educational system that focuses on exams and certificates as well as an economic system that focuses so much on certificates despite the knowledge acquired.

Interestingly, somewhere in our subconscious, we know that focusing on knowledge and learning gives you the privilege of excelling in the school examinations as well as in the examinations of life. How do I know this? Whenever one is advising a student at the beginning of a school term, the advice is not usually “focus on your exam” it rather is “face your studies”; because when a student has spent a whole term studying and acquiring knowledge, examination is usually a piece of cake; on the other hand, examination becomes over-demanding when a student waits till examination is a few days away before they begin to study.

I remember I was once in a class where we asked the teacher for areas of concentration (AOC) for the coming examination, he wrote on the board: AOC = COA. COA means “Concentrate On All” areas. I believe students will be better positioned to pass their school’s written examination as well as meet the examinations of life head on if they concentrate on all areas and not just cram or concentrate on what is needed to pass their exams only.

In 2012, I engaged someone who had an above 4-point CGPA as a 2nd year student in a Nigerian university in a conversation, and I was shocked to find out that he didn’t know who Namadi Sambo is? Of course he’d know Wizkid and Davido but may not know who Reuben Abati is. Interestigly, any of these unknown figures may pop up as an oral interview question for a job. If the job is not secured despite one’s high scores in a written test, such might come away from that experience and blame some powers that be for making things work contrary to his/her expectations. A knowledge of current affairs in the society is an important part of education too.

Any educational system which focuses on examination more than knowledge or learning is focusing in the wrong direction and will produce mediocre graduates whose major concern is to pass school examinations and obtain certificates by hook or by crook. However, this is not to say that examinations are not important; in fact, they are and they are a good enough test of knowledge because, the guys who really study right actually pass, so it’s good enough. If one has been studying the right things, of course, an examination is not to be feared. If one is a computer guru despite studying Agricultural Science like one of my roommates in school, he needs to balance his study time to accommodate his academic field of study if he wants to succeed in that line.

In order to achieve real life success which includes academic excellence and an impactful career, one must focus his/her energy on knowledge and learning. And so it is with spirituality; in order to achieve true biblical holiness, one must focus his/her energy on acquiring knowledge and learning through faith in Christ Jesus. Apostle Peter says “make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:5-8). Peter here makes a list of attributes similar to that which Paul called the fruit of the Spirit in the 5th chapter of his letter to the Galatians which he ends by saying “against such things there is no law.” (Gal. 5:23). It’s like saying if you study hard you can’t fail any exam in this case if you practice these things, you can’t break any law—God’s law of course.

So instead of allowing oneself to be wearied or weighed down by the requirements of the law of God Jesus says to you “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”” (Matt. 11:28-30). Jesus says learn from me and practice my lifestyle and the law of God will cease to be a burden to you. The only way to achieve success in one’s Christian walk is to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:2).

Any religious system that focuses on law keeping more than faith in Christ is focusing in the wrong direction and will produces hypocritical religionists whose major concern is to appear saintly before men. However, this is not to say that God’s moral law is not important, in fact James says God will use it to judge the world. (see James 2:10-12) and Paul asks “Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.” (Rom. 3:31 NLT).

Learning of Jesus means examining His life and endeavouring to practice His lifestyle. His lifestyle can be summarized in two sentences. The first: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind; and the second is like unto it: Love your neighbour as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments (see Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:37-39) and Jesus lived His whole life following this principle and it was said of Him that he “committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth” (1 Pet. 2:22).

In Matthew 5, He lets us know that not committing murder is not the focus, but actually loving he who could have been a victim of your fury should be the focus. Neither is committing adultery the focus, but the focus is having a pure mind that resists lustful thoughts. He lets us know that energetic prayer or worship is fruitless without forgiving one’s brother. He lets us know that we can avoid the temptation to swear by being forthright at all times: “let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.” Jesus taught many precious lessons in that sermon in a bid to show us that the focus is “so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven”. When your focus is representing your Father in heaven aright, then you won’t be rebellious or in opposition to any law of God.

Being a spiritual man is not achieved in solitude on a mountain, or by fasting for 100 days, being a spiritual man is by doing the will of God every minute of every day that he gives you breath. A friend of mine once told me of her Uncle’s ordeal in the kidnappers’ den; He narrated how the kidnappers only played Christian music throughout his stay there and how they had a Pastor who always prayed for them before any outing and how they always prayed so seriously at specific times. Like men seek a short cut to academic success, shortcut to spiritual success is sought by men as well. Maybe a 3-day fast after fornication will make me spiritual or a vigil after stealing will restore my spirituality. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Gal. 6:7, 8). What one constantly engages in is what makes one spiritual not what he/she engages in occasionally.

Ellen white writes

“’No man can serve two masters.’ We cannot serve God with a divided heart. Bible religion is not one influence among many others; its influence is to be supreme, pervading and controlling every other. It is not to be like a dash of color brushed here and there upon the canvas, but it is to pervade the whole life, as if the canvas were dipped into the color, until every thread of the fabric were dyed a deep, unfading hue… By the life we live through the grace of Christ the character is formed. The original loveliness begins to be restored to the soul. The attributes of the character of Christ are imparted, and the image of the Divine begins to shine forth. The faces of men and women who walk and work with God express the peace of heaven. They are surrounded with the atmosphere of heaven. For these souls the kingdom of God has begun. They have Christ’s joy, the joy of being a blessing to humanity. They have the honor of being accepted for the Master’s use; they are trusted to do His work in His name. [i]

Spirituality is a process of forming one’s character after the character of Christ by exercising one’s will in the right direction through the grace of the Holy Spirit. It is not a state of being that one goes in and out of, it is that which influences every aspect of one’s life. It is by beholding the life of Christ day by day that we become changed (see 2 Cor. 3:18) it is not by occasionally engaging in certain spiritual practices.

A life that talks to God and hardly listens to Him cannot succeed spiritually; in other words, a life that prays and doesn’t listen to and practice what God says in His word cannot succeed spiritually. So also, a life that listens to God and doesn’t tell others about Him will find it hard to succeed spiritually as well. Paul, under inspiration, asks: How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher…faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Rom. 10:14, 17). Prayer, study of God’s word and a lifestyle of witnessing will ultimately yield a life that will obey God and fulfil the requirement of God’s law as well.

Be not deceived, God is not mocked. Musical performance is not spirituality neither is an ecstatic prayer or “worship” experience as it is defined today. Spirituality is all encompassing. It focuses on Christ and His Word and it never undermines God’s law. Paul asks “Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.” (Rom. 3:31).

So, you want to succeed spiritually? AOC = COA. Pray. Study. Rightly Exercise Your Will. Witness.

 

[i] Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 312

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