“Happiness… consists in giving and in serving others”. ~Henry Drummond
“It is the love that we give and the service we render that really is the great payoff”. ~David B. Haight
“Leadership is an opportunity to serve. It is not a trumpet call to self-importance.” J. Donald Walters
OPPORTUNITY is defined variously as 1: a favourable juncture of circumstances and 2: a good chance for advancement or progress.
On the other hand, the definition for OPPORTUNISM is “taking advantage of opportunities without regard for the consequences for others” and is the “Practice of exploiting circumstances in self-interest, especially without regard to moral principles or others’ interests”. (BusinessDictionary.com)
According to Krystal Kuehn, (BeHappy4Life.com, NewDayCounseling.org, 2010), to serve others definitely demands selflessness and sacrifice. So how can it be something to be thankful for? Do we really want to put the needs of others before our own? In most cases, we honestly do not. We may even become agitated when our goals are blocked or when we have to change our plans to accommodate someone else’s need. This has happened to all of us. We give our time, attention, resources, whatever is needed of us, and we are not too happy about it. What I learned recently is that this is not only a sacrifice, but it is an opportunity to serve.
I believe there is no greater purpose in living than to serve others and, if you are religious, our God. It only becomes a feared routine or burden when we do it reluctantly, or even for selfish reasons. It is my prayer that I serve with a willing, obedient, and cheerful heart that is full of gratitude. It is then that I truly fulfil my purpose and calling. I am very thankful for the many chances I am given every day to serve my God and others.
And I think so should the many people who have been, one way or the other, whichever way you look at it, been given opportunities to serve their people, politically, or at least to better the lives of their people, especially given the vast natural resources of this country, which, if managed with the utmost selflessness and wisdom, with the attendant opportunity costs, is bound to ensure that Nigerians’ standard of living should be one of the highest in the world.
But this is not the case. Unfortunately, those who had the opportunity to serve – politicians, military, civil servants, business leaders, traditional rulers, religious leaders, etc – have turned out to be opportunists. (Please see the definitions above). Opportunity is a chance to do well; a chance to advance or to progress a particular cause. This is mostly positive. Opportunism is gross self-interest, deviousness and unscrupulousness, and is largely negative. So we have had military, political, business, religious, and social opportunists who were there to take advantage of the vast resources of this country for their own personal and selfish benefits and interests, and not for the people who had trusted them enough to elect (read select) them into power, or succumb to their seizure of power. Opportunists will always betray you. They themselves have no choice than to betray you for their own interests. Opportunists will always do anything to remain in positions of authority; and if not in power already, will do anything to explore and exploit ways of taking advantage of other people to get that power.
Many, in fact, uncountable Nigerians have been given the opportunity to serve their people since the inception of this country even as far back as 1914. In those early formative days, many Nigerians served with loyalty and patriotic determination to ensure the success of a newly emerging nation. They were also serving the colonial masters for their own use, but at least they served both colonial masters and their people in those days.
After Independence, and especially with the incursion of the military into governance and politics, every opportunity to serve God and Man was thrown to the wind and turned into opportunistic, greedy and selfish endeavours by our various rulers and all others who are engaged in ensuring prosperity for the people of Nigeria. They raped, looted, plundered, defiled, despoiled and corrupted the entire country with such mind-boggling disregard for the lives, welfare, property and freedom of their fellow countrymen and women. They are still at it even today, and getting worse every second. There seems to be no conscience at all at the damage they have done and are still doing to generations yet unborn with their opportunistic violence on their own people.
Opportunists are freebooters, carpetbaggers, speculators, chancers, fortune-hunters, swashbucklers and buccaneers who do not give a damn about what happens to anybody else, as long as they get what they want.
I always wonder why lightning do not strike a lot of our rulers, past and present when they come out into the public and then start thanking (actually trying to deceive) God for “giving them the opportunity to serve”! I always think to myself, “opportunity to serve who? Have you served your God and your people, really? Or have you served yourself?” The same politician and civil servant will then walk away from government, with wealth and affluence not commensurate with either his/her performance in government or with the normal salary paid to him/her.
It is obvious therefore, that when opportunists get into positions of authority or power, they can never perform according to the people’s yearnings. When opportunists are tussling with genuine leaders or potential leaders, they always seem to have the edge; and this is because they utilise every dubious and evil means to overcome genuine leaders and subvert the will and wishes of the people. The people then look helplessly and hopelessly on, because it is these opportunists; these charlatans, greedy, selfish and corrupt, who will determine the directions and essentials of their lives – security, education, health, agriculture and food security, transportation, general welfare, housing, economic, technological, domestic and foreign policies. This explains the problem of Nigeria over the past decades – the country, with great potentials, has been run, raped and ruined by opportunists for a very long time.
Permit me to quote this passage from the Holy Bible “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” John 10:1-4.
Most of our past and current “leaders and rulers” did not enter through the doorway or the gate, but climbed through windows, (and they are thieves and robbers, and opportunists, carpetbaggers and freeloaders) and that is why it is now time for us, the sheep, in this case to determine and say we will no longer follow them. We will not hear their voices, and they will not be able to lead us out. WE DO NOT KNOW THEIR VOICES.
Again The Holy Bible, in Galatians 5:13 said “You were indeed called to be free, brothers and sisters. Don’t turn this freedom into an excuse for your corrupt nature to express itself. Rather, serve each other through love”. GOD’S WORD® Translation (©1995)
“True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not the enrichment of the leaders.” Robert Townsend
Many patriotic, honest and sincere Nigerians crave the opportunity to serve selflessly and with excellence, but in this quagmire of selfishness, corruption, greed, nepotism, favouritism and mediocrity, how will we have that opportunity?
Shall we continue to speak the Truth?
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