(Presentation delivered to the 1st Eagles Conference for Men, held/organised by Joyful Way Incorporated on 30th May 2015)

Thank you for inviting me to speak at this maiden Eagles Conference, organised by the group that I absolutely love with all that I am and have within me, Joyful Way, the last standing epitome of true music evangelism.

It is certainly by your design that my wife spoke, last year, at the maiden Arete Conference that you organised for young women. I understand that it was pretty no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoner session. I haven’t summoned sufficient courage to listen to the recording, and I will NOT encourage you to do that! Trust me, I know what I am talking about.

Today, I am privileged to be speaking after two truly great men. First, is the current President of Joyful Way, Michael Charway, who spoke on “How A Young Man Can Keep His Way Pure,” and then my own friend and brother Albert Ocran who I have known for 40 out of my 47 years on earth, who spoke to you on “How To Cultivate Multiple Income Streams.” You could not have chosen better men to speak on these topics, as the messages they delivered, I know, reflect their very lives. The messenger is the best message. I can only hope and pray that at the end of my presentation, I would be considered worthy of being associated with the path that these men have so skillfully blazed here to day.

My presentation is in two parts. The first part is the introduction to the topic. The second part is a list, just a list of 6 things I which I had known (better) some 17 years ago, when I turned 30.

INTRODUCTION

What is it about the age 30, and why is it significant? Isn’t age just a number? Or is it because the number looks and sounds nice?

Since this Conference is organised by a Christian organisation, this presentation is anchored and rooted in your source

Let’s go the the Good Book, Book of Books, the Ancient Script, penned by human hands, yet inspired by the Spirit of the life-creating, life-changing and life-sustaining Force called “God”. I have found in that book, 6 significant things that happened to 6 significant people at the age 30.

  1. Joseph was 30 when he was appointed to put in place in Egypt, an economic policy that would mark that country as a world giant and ultimately a super power. (Gen 41:46). In 30 years, God has raised him from being a spoilt son of a rich man, a sissy and dreamer, thrust into management as a teen with no experience and not even the ability to interpret his own dreams, God rescued him
    * from Papa’s loving and overbearing Protection,
    * from the Pit of dashed hope and Despair,
    * from Potiphar’s House of Temptation and Seduction,
    * from Prison, living on others’ dreams, a place Unjust and Unfair,
    * to the Palace and Power and Position.
  2. In ancient Israel, Priests were officially commissioned into service at the age of 30 (Num 4:3). Thus although they had been born in the tribe of Levi and were destined to become priest, they required 3 decades of training to assume that high office for 2 decades. They had to retire at 50. Note however that that age was subsequently reduced to 25 (Num 4:24-25) and to to 20 in the time of David (I Ch 23:24-27, 2 Ch 31:17), but the retirement age appears to have been kept at 50.
  3. David became King at age 30, and he ruled for 40 years (2 Sam 5:4). Doing the math, he could was 18- 20 when he killed Goliath. That is confirmed by Num 1:18-45 where the age of being “numbered” for military service was 20.
  4. Ezekiel received his prophetic and unmatched vision-seeing ministry when he was 30 (Ez 1:1). He remembered the actual date of his 30th year (4 months and 5 days) and exactly where he was (by river Chebar) when “the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.”
  5. The Lord Christ Himself started his work at age 30. Lk 3:23 – “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli.” God HIMSELF, needed 3 decades of preparation for what was effectively 3 years of ministry!!
  6. John the Baptist must have started his work at age 30. How do we know? He was only 6 months older than the Lord Christ. Luke 1:26 says that 6 months after angel Gabriel returned to heaven from the “divine impregnation” mission effected on the old and barren Elisabeth in Judaea, the same angel was sent on another of such missions, this time to a city of Galilee called Nazareth and this time to a virgin! In v.36, Gabriel confidently informs Mary that her cousin Elisabeth is 6 months pregnant already, and that she is about to go through the same miraculous procedure, and that with God, nothing was impossible. And in fact, it was only upon this testimony that Mary believed and said “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word.”

30 is therefore significant as the age of maturity. Life may “begin” at 40, but we step into maturity 10 years before beginning life. In other words, we mature before we live.

Our topic today is therefore asking about what we should have known before maturity, before becoming of age. In other words, what should I have known when I was still YOUTH?

The 6 ‘Paulian’ Standards

Paul says to a young Timothy “Let no man DESPISE thy youth; BUT be thou an EXAMPLE of the believer, in WORD, in CONVERSATION, in CHARITY, in SPIRIT, in FAITH, in PURITY.” (1 TIM 4:12)

“LET NO MAN” means do not allow any person, do not give grounds, room, reason, justification or basis.

To “LET” means to allow, permit, give permission to, give leave to, authorize, sanction, grant, grant the right to, warrant, license, empower, enable or entitle. Used with the negative adverb,”no,” gives it an opposite meaning, force and effect: “Do Not!”

It means that you are the only person who can allow the time of your youth to be despised by men. In other words, the time of your youth will be judged, weighed at some point in your life. Did it build you up for anything? In other words, even when you are no longer youth, the things you do will let others judge the kind of youth you were or upbringing you received.

You have heard it said, “ofri fie,” (he/she comes from a home); or “onyaa nteteɛ pa,” (he/she is of a good upbringing); or “ye tetee no, y’an nyɛn no sɛ akokɔ” (he/she was carefully raised, not simply kept like a chicken); or “na opanin nni ne fie?” (was there no elder person in his/her house/family?)

It may be true that you should not consider, too seriously, what others think about you. But Paul something different here. He says that what others think about you (especially during your time as youth), may be influenced by who you are, what you do and what you have become. In short, WHAT FOUNDATION DID YOU RECEIVE AS YOUTH? In other words, WHAT SHOULD I HAVE KNOWN AND DONE WHEN I WAS STILL YOUTH, I.E. BEFORE I BECAME AN ADULT?

Speaking of Foundations, the Lord Christ told the parable of Foundations. According to Matthew the Jewish Zealot, the story was very simple, and indeed simplistic. The wiseman built on a rock and the foolish man build it sand. When the tempests came, the building of the wise prevailed, while that of the foolish was torn down “and great was the fall.” (Mt 7:24-27)

Luke, the Doctor and intellectual tells the same parable, with a deeper insight. He says that the first man did not simply find a rock and build a house on it. Luke says the man “digged deep and laid the foundation on a rock.” The other man “without foundation, built an house upon the earth.” (Lk 6:47-49)

I side with the intellectual version or recount. Building a solid foundation for your future involves DIGGING DEEP to find A ROCK, and then LAYING THE FOUNDATION UPON THAT ROCK. Digging deep requires hard work, sacrifice, pain and endurance, and DEFERRED GRATIFICATION. You will see your friends just settle on any patch of earth, but you want more, you want better. You are unwilling unable and unprepared to compromise on your foundation. You are prepared to pay the price, take the pain today, deny yourself of today’s pleasure in the knowledge that when you finally HIT THAT ROCK, only God can stop you. Even the sky will not be your limit.

And so in Lam 3:27, the weeping prophet takes a break from his ‘jeremiad’ and affirms that “It is GOOD for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” That is where and when you pay the price, in your YOUTH.

Wise Solomon tells us in Eccl 12:1 that you should remember the Creator “in the days of your youth.” Because “evil days and years” will come, those last days when you have no pleasure in even continuing to live.

Thus any “man” will only have the ability to DESPISE your youth, if you LET him do so. The NIV says “look down on you.” NLT says “think less of you.” Another version says “thing slightingly of you.”

DESPISE itself means to “feel contempt or a deep repugnance for.”

It is synonymous with detest, hate, loathe, abhor, regard with contempt, feel contempt for, shrink from, be repelled by, not be able to bear/stand/stomach, find intolerable, deplore, dislike.

Your youth therefore provides the foundation of what you will be or become in adulthood. If you don’t build the right foundation, you allow or permit others to be repelled by what you become, because you did not get or attain the proper foundation.

BUT: Paul uses this conjunction in its natural meaning, used to introduce a phrase or clause contrasting with what has already been mentioned. It is synonymous with “yet,” nevertheless,” “nonetheless,” “however,” “despite that,” and “in spite of that.” eg “he stumbled but didn’t fall.”

Thus Paul is saying that the opposite or contrast to your youth being despised, is you attaining the 6 standards that he lays down or sets up after the use of the ‘disjunctive conjunction’ BUT. In other words, if you do not attain these standards YOU will LET others despise your youth.

And so my father’s people the Borbor Mfanste would call you “aambobra sansanyi,” a simile that compares the one with no achievement with the duiker bird.

The song “sansa aboa, mennyi beebi a mowu ma da” speaks of the wondering, restless soul of the homeless, jobless, lazy loafer of a duiker, whose only pleasure is feeding and feasting on hapless little chicks; hence the song “sansa akroma, ne na ewu o, ɔkyeke nkokɔ mba, ɔse ɔnkɛyɛ edwuma. w’akyinkyin, ekyinkin, ekyinkyin…”

Thus you are the only person who can invite despising towards your youth. NO ONE CAN LOOK DOWN ON SOMETHING THAT IS GREATER THAN HIM.

Back to Paul and his sometimes somewhat cryptic writing style, after setting up the PRE-TEXT in just 3 words, he then identifies 6 critical areas where youth must excel, so as not to attract societal opprobrium. But before then, the provides the CONTEXT, saying that you just must not be show them, you must be an EXAMPLE. A mere pass mark in a thing isn’t an example.

An example is “a thing characteristic of its kind or illustrating a general rule.” It is “a person or thing regarded in terms of their fitness to be imitated.” And so here, Paul’s context speaks to, not mere participants, but to that person who can truly and properly be regarded as a specimen, exemplification, representative case, a case in point, an illustration, a precedent, guide, model, pattern, blueprint, template, paradigm, the ideal, THE STANDARD.

This is what informs my personal mantras: If others sit, STAMD. If others stand, STAND OUT. If others stand out, be OUTSTANDING. If others are outstanding, be THE STANDARD.

And so in which areas of life are you to be THE STANDARD that Paul speaks about?

  1. SPEECH
    In word, in what you say. If ‘the Word WAS God’, then the message and the messenger are one! You must be what you say.
  2. CONDUCT
    – The way you live
    – Way of life
    – Manner of life
    – Conversation
    – Behaviour
    – Deportment/Comportment
  3. CHARITY
    – Love. A verb. A doing word. It is when it is done that it becomes a noun.
    Are you a hateful and spiteful person, or are you a loving and considerate person?
  4. SPIRIT
    This attribute appears in only the King James Version. It could refer to how yielded you are to the Holy Spirit in all of your life and conduct. But it could also mean the manner and disposition in which you do all things, i.e. your human spirit.
  5. FAITH
    Actually faithfulness. Are you dependable? Are you loyal? Do you have constancy, trueness, true-heartednes, dedication, and commitment? Can I bet my life on you? Or are you the one that we can bet and count on to fail.
  6. PURITY
    – Chastity (Here, I borrow from the wise words of superior court judges when they write a concurring opinion. In a situation like this, they would have said something like this: :”I have had the privilege of seeing and reading aforehand, the erudite opinion and presentation of your President, Michael Charway. I completely and wholeheartedly concur with what he has had to say, and I have nothing useful to add.”)

But the key thing about these STANDARDS is that there must be a balance. A false balance is an abomination, the Script says. You must be an EXAMPLE in each of these 6 areas, in your youth. If you fail at any in your youth, you weaken your foundation for adulthood, and you invite others to despise your youth, either in the time of your youth or even when you are an adult.

Thus at the end of considering these, may I suggest to you that these are not 6 separate and distinct standards, but altogether, they form ONE STANDARD. There may be 6 components of the whole, but we are required to be an “EXAMPLE”, one example or all 6, rolled into one. If we slack or fall short in even one, we have failed in all. Then we invite the despising that Paul spoke to Timothy about.

May the Lord forbid that your children will one day curse the day that you were born.

The ‘Youthful’ Christ

But we serve a Christ who retains his youth. When God the Father invites God the Son in Ps 110:1 to sit at His right hand “until I make thine enemies thy footstool”, the Father assures the son in v.3 that “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: THOU HAST THE DEW OF THY YOUTH.”

That is what must have inspired the songwriter to write “let the Dew of Heaven bring us a refreshing….”

Youthfulness is supposed as be as fresh and as nourishing as the dew, pure and beautiful, born from the womb of morning. That is why the same Psalmist penned that “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” And surely, this is what inspired me to write in my song “Me Twɛn Yehowa” that “Nti sɛ nusuo bɛsoɛ me anadwo a, Nanso ade kyeɛ ne anigye n’ɛnam…”

Alas, the Dew of Heaven is a person, the Lord Christ. He, who has retained the dew of his Youth, assures us in Ps. 103 that if we live a life that blesses the Lord, he will (1) forgive iniquities, (2) heal diseases, (3) redeem from destruction, (5) crown with lovingkindness and tender mercies, and (5) satisfy our mouths with good things. The sum total of these blessings is that “so that your youth is renewed like that of the eagle”.

No one knows how long eagles live. But some eagles in captivity have been known to live for over 100 years. This is because every year, eagles go through a natural process called “moulting” when they cast off old feathers and receive new ones, which come with renewed strength and energy to soar and reach heights that no other creature can reach with natural strength.

May our youth be renewed each morning by the Dew of Heaven. May the weepings of the ‘night’ disappear when morning breaks. May we gather the strength to tap into the Dew of Heaven so that we remain fresh each day. May we moult like the eagle so that we can soar the heights. May our feet become like hinds’ feet so that we can capture our heights.

My List of Six

And so all of that I have said before, is my introduction to the list of six (6) things that I wish I knew [more about] before turning 30, and I simply want to invite you, in the light of what we have shared before to think and meditate on these, as I come to a close.

  1. Me
    2. Life
    3. Work
    4. Friendship
    5. Marriage
    6. Wisdom

Pr. 30:24-28 Roll Cal of The Little but Exceedingly Wise
* Ants: weak – prepare meat in the summer
* Rock Badgers: feeble – but has homes in the rocks
* Locusts: no king – but go forth in formations that can make any army jealous
* Spiders: can be held in the hands – but the spider and its web can found in the palace

Sapientia et Doctrina Stabilitas: “Wisdom and Knowledge Shall be the Stability of Thy Times” – Isaiah 33:6 and the motto of the second university that I attended, Queen’s University. Wisdom alone isn’t enough. Knowledge alone isn’t enough. It is wisdom PLUS knowledge that provide stability in all times.

In sum, I wish I knew THEN, what I know NOW, especially that “You will have to keep your mouth open for a very long time, before a roasted partridge flies into it.”