Above Critique

A friend this week shared a horror story of innocently going to pick up a parcel with 2 books from the post office. What should have taken ten minutes ended up taking 11 stops and over an hour and a half! [only fortunate that it was 11am on Monday] As he told me this story, I realized I have finally figured out what to do if I have an enemy in Kenya; mail them a package!

We continue in our sermon series called CREATE – Don’t Vent, Invent.

The biggest reason why Africa continues to underperform despite being perhaps the most well endowed continent is because the most educated citizens have failed to provide creative, practical solutions for the rest of the continent. In the previous weeks we explored the challenges that keep many of us from being people who CREATE.  We found that…

  1. Our upbringing – both education and parenting methods have hindered our development as innovators
  2. Our instant-success mentality -keeps us from going the long haul to provide sustainable solutions-feelings
  3. Our inadequate systems – keeps any solutions we generate small, inadequate and unsustainable.

Today we shall address a fourth and final challenge to our quest to provide practical and sustainable solutions for our continent & that is – Overcoming Mediocrity. Have you recently had an encounter with mediocre services or products? It is sad how easy it is find such examples of mediocrity.

  • Receptionists in company receptions talk loudly on a private call in their mother tongue, and then notice you after fifteen minutes and ask, ‘eh, umesaidiwa’?
  • Roads have potholes within a six months of being re-carpeted; and thank God we’re not on an earthquake fault line because 30% of most buildings would come tumbling down! Some collapse even without earthquakes as recently as last year in Kiambu. In some parts of our city, developers build sewer overflows to the open roadside ditch!
  • It sometimes feels like you’re begging banks to keep your money! A few years back, some even wrote letters to their customers closing their accounts because they didn’t have enough money.
  • School shoes bought at the largest Kenyan shoe shop only last one term!
  • People constantly dilute product quality to cut costs… buy a brand of brown bread that takes great and in a few months it’s just food coloring! A mosquito repellent that works so great but then in a few months its diluted and mosquitoes buzz happily in the room!
  • In hospitals, you’re guaranteed to wait hours in lines and many doctors will prescribe a more expensive procedure simply to make money.
  • Let’s not even talk about our police and politicians; I don’t even want to go there!
  • This one is painful but just as true; the Church no different; many landlords in the city refuse to take churches as tenants because they are known to be some of the worst defaulters on rent. Often it’s said if the church did it or if a Christian planned it, you can expect it to be uncreative, unrehearsed, out of touch, and badly finished! For many of you, that’s what kept you out of church for a long time!

No wonder our continent continues to stumble along, under-developed and pitiful! What can save us? I believe the scripture has a prescription for us.

Read Daniel 6:1-9

At the time of our story, Daniel was an old man, perhaps in his eighties. He had served in government for around 60 years. Throughout that time, there was something unique about him that made him stand out. When he and his friends joined the civil service at 18 years old, 1:20 tells us ‘In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them 10 times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom’. For 60 years in leadership, from the time he was an intern to his years as a senior statesman, Daniel’s excellence and integrity at work made him stand out among his peers. And so at the time he should be retiring, Daniel’s boss was planning to promote him! And try as they could, his political enemies could find absolutely nothing to bring him down! This is what it means that an excellent spirit was in him.

From Daniel’s life, I learn an important lesson; if it’s not worth doing well, it’s not worth doing at all.

Interview with Joram Mwinamo, who is CEO of Wylde International (a training & consulting firm that helps set up systems for large firms and SMEs)

Why is mediocrity such a big problem for us?

  • We are used to the mediocre – we don’t expect better and in fact we get so shocked when we receive excellent service
  • We are unwilling to pay the price – excellence is costly, not just money but especially time, energy, and thinking. For Christians, we even spiritualize mediocrity… Some students attend CU meetings instead of reading exams. We fast and pray for success in business but we do not put in the effort to give service that speaks for itself.
  • We have no internal standards – our standards are not based on an internal frame of reference but rather on what others are doing – we have become masters of ‘copy paste’

Author Malcom Gladwell in his book ‘Outliers’ studied individuals in sports, music and the creative arts who are known for their excellence.  He found that the key factor that generated excellence was not gifting but hard work. He figured that it takes 10,000 hours of consistent practice to become an expert in the thing you’re talented in.  The greatest athletes all trained harder than people who were less gifted.  Michael Jordan was said to been the first at practice and the last to leave. As Albert Einstein said ‘genius us 1% inspiration 99% perspiration”. If it’s not worth doing well, it’s not worth doing at all.

Let me share three things I learn about excellence in our passage.

  1. Excellence requires a deeper motivation – v.5 ‘Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”’ Excellence is not something you can put on for show. It’s not something you can do for money or promotion. Daniel was not after external rewards to be better than those around him.  It came out of knowing what God expected of him. We too must have our excellence coming out of our understanding about God and what He requires of us.  Excellence is our act of worship. Perfectionism is different from excellence; perfectionism comes from wanting to be better than others. This leads to either pride when we are or bitterness at those better than us. Col.3:24Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord you are serving.’
  2. Excellence Opens Doors –Daniel served 4 kings all because of his excellence.  Pro 22: 29, says “do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men”. Your gift will open doors for you, but it is your excellence that will keep them open. It is important to note that excellence can easily threaten others not just because it opens doors for you but because it also exposes their mediocrity!  You will find resistance and the push to conform.   But if we read on we see that Daniel never changed his game plan to accommodate what others thought; he just continued being excellent as he had always been. And it’s no surprise that he succeeded despite his opponents schemes. When you focus on godly excellence, you don’t have to worry what your competition is up to; people will come looking for you!
  3. Glorifies God! – Ultimately at the end of the chapter, we see that the king ends up honoring Daniel’s God. He declared that everyone in his kingdom God should fear and reverence the God of Daniel. I’ve come to realize that we are God’s brand representatives. Our excellence glorifies Him and draws others to him. 1Cor.10:31 says, ‘whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God’.

I believe we have what it takes to not only change Africa but to change the world in this generation. But changing Africa begins with changing me. What is one place lacking excellence in your business, workplace or community?  Begin to work on them.  Make a commitment that at the end of the year you will have made changes and people will give a testimony of your excellence and glorify God. I pray that none of our children will regret being an African because we are known for mediocrity.

CONGRATULATIONS to the Almasi lifegroup for winning the Pastor M Challenge. True blacksmiths of our time who are working on revamping road blocks in Kiambu with solar powered LED lighting and providing duty police with handheld rechargable torches.

Almasi life group - Winners of Pastor M Challenge

Kelvin Mwangi receives the Pastor M award on behalf of his life group, Almasi, for winning the Pastor M challenge


5 Responses to “Above Critique”

  1. Wow, I enjoyed every minute of the sermons in the past month. Thank you Pastor M for the very enlightening sermon. My prayer is that it takes root in my life and be able to positively influence those around me.

    God bless you


  2. This is a very sound and true teaching.practice excellence and opportunities will keep after you.Remember the swahili saying-KIZURI CHAJIUZA KIBAYA CHAJITEMBEZA. How i pray that scales may fall off my eyes that i may soar high in work and deliver beyond the wildest expectations of the management and the industry


  3. Thank you Pastor M for the sound and excellent teachings through the past weeks. I started a business a few years ago and had to go slow due to circumstances beyond me, I am employed now though convinced that I was created to be a blacksmith…I have resolved to do what I am doing excellently even as I wait upon the Lord to open the doors for me to go back to business…May God bless you and keep you


  4. Hmmm… truly spoilt as last Sunday’s sermon is usually what gets me started on a Tuesday morning, lakini last Sunday’s bado hata facebook…trying to patiently wait… for the upload…


  5. Hats off to Kelvin and the Almasi LG on winning the Pastor M challenge!


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