“What? No, Way!” He stared at me with a shocked expression on his face. “I’ve never heard that before!”
Now, I had to hide an expression of shock from my face! “You do believe in Jesus, right?” The young man’s bright toothy smile gleamed, as he nodded emphatically. “Well, that makes you God’s son, and God wants His children to do things with passion, that they believe in!”
The young man smiled politely, and gave me the same answer I’ve heard time and again, over the past month, “I can’t, I have a mom that needs money from my work, I have a brother who relies on me, and besides, I need to make money when I can.”
This conversation was frustrating, this was a young man in his early 20’s. He had completed his Matric (High school diploma), was very well spoken, charismatic, looked me in the eye with confidence, but was held back by an expectation of mediocrity.
Over the previous five years, I noticed a trend in the successful and “privileged” earners of the Silicon Valley. Some grew up in the Midwest as farmers, others hailed from Asia or the Middle East, but all of them broke into an exciting and innovative field of work to which their previous lives had no connection. Playing it safe and following the family trend or staying in the family business did not hold them back.
An attitude that is specific to an innovative spirit.
This type of innovation is found across Asia, North America and some of Europe, yet, I have struggled to see it within the African population. However, Africa is much richer in opportunity and resources than other continents ever would hope to be. It’s farming and fishing capability is legendary, it’s metal deposits and diamond mines are well known. Then why am I currently in a country with an unemployment rate close to 30% and surrounded by countries with unemployment at 15-45%? Why is there still inability to get medications to the sick or maintain roads at a high standard or keep the electrical grid on?
At this point, most begin finger pointing (I have done a fair bit of finger pointing in my day).
“It’s the breakdown in the family”
“It’s the lack of morality”
And the list goes on, and on, and on… I believe all these are only symptoms of the same problem, a problem that can be solved simply and much faster than I think any of us would believe.
You see, one of the reasons the United States in particular is so innovative is the same reason we are so stinking patriotic. We love ourselves and we love our country. There is nothing wrong with that. In actuality, being created in the image of God requires true love for ourselves and for what God has blessed us with. Don’t get me wrong, this is not about ego, entitlement or isolationism, it’s about a mindset.
A mindset, as all lovers of Jesus we have an obligation to share and teach.
Simply put, “you too are awesome, start acting like it.”
Most men need a mountain to climb, bigger or more difficult than the previous one. We need men to look up to, who are “better” than us to challenge us to new heights. I am mentor rich, I had a Dad who never let me use the word “can’t” and taught me to think “there’s always another way.” I had employers who showed incredible patience and tact in teaching me how to work and how to work smart. I had friends more established than I, who would let me listen to them talk about how they processed information, focused on problems and overcame challenges.
In Southern Africa, the lack of fathers is no secret. To make matters worse, although the church has many men in attendance, few are being raised up and sent out to take young men under their wings, to be the source of fatherly words and inspiration.
Brothers… we can do this, we only need 1000+ men to rise up and take 1-5 men under their wings.
To commit to never quitting on these kids, and never let them say “can’t” and always tell them, “You are awesome and you were made to do something awesome.”
When this is accomplished, I believe we will see Africans begin to love Africa in a new way, and unprecedented innovation leading to an incredible rise of an African powerhouse never before seen. All this, lead by Jesus, using His people to inspire and encourage, no matter the cost.