By Pastor Choolwe
There is this misguided notion that one’s relatives have a duty to do certain things for them. This is such a common mindset in Africa and more so in my own country in Zambia. It is actually common to find a parent asking their child, a person asking their siblings or indeed people asking for help from their relatives with an entitlement approach.
But friends, let me share some crude facts. It is the duty of your parents to provide for you but not your duty to necessarily provide for them. Your duty is to honor them. This is the context from which you will watch over their wellbeing and provide for them. Biblically, a good person (parent) should actually leave enough inheritance to go all the way to their grandchildren. If your mum and dad has not done well in this regard, be grateful for what they could but turn the tables around so that from you onward the normal divine order of leaving an inheritance will start. It is also not the duty of your elder brother, sister or cousin to provide for you. But they have a moral obligation to help you when they can.
I have noticed a very dangerous trend among siblings that makes them develop a sense of entitlement to what belongs to their brothers, sisters or indeed their relatives. This reduces the extent of their gratitude for what their brothers and sisters can do for them. In fact, others end up squandering opportunities because they are not alive to the fact that this is merely help they are receiving and not a right on their part.
But I strongly advise you to learn to take the opportunities your relatives offer you seriously. I would never be here if I never took the opportunity my late elder brother Mr. Mudenda Mudenda gave me many years ago. It is that one opportunity that turned my world around. Thank God I never got carried away with the belief that I was entitled to his help. My brother never gave me everything, but the little he gave me set me up for a glorious future. Of all things he gave me, an opportunity to be born again remains the most precious of them all.
I was locked away in the deep villages of Kaoma in Namaloba and I can assure you that you may never have heard from me in your life if my brother never acted at that set time. This is a man who sacrificed and took me from Kaoma in February 1993. He took me to Livingstone; a city I will always treasure. It is in Livingstone, that I became born again. It is in Livingstone that I knew the call of God on my life. It is in Livingstone that my Christian and academic foundation was laid.
My brother addressed my two elder brothers and I when we arrived at his house. The following were the rules we were to follow among others:
• He informed us that anyone who lived with him was to attend church with him without fail. It is through this rule that I got born again by attending church at Calvary Church in Livingstone
• He was the first person to show me 2 Thessalonians 3:10 where the bible says “if anyone does not work, he must not eat”. So it was a rule that we were all to participate in work or no eating.
• He informed us that he would supply what he could and where he was unable, we were to work with integrity to get the best. In fact my elder brother Austin from this rule completed NATECH (an accounts qualification then under ZICA) without attending tuition. My brother could only afford paying for his exam fee. My brother took that and did self study and consulted those who could afford tuition and cleared NATECH. Today he is a Senior Accountant in one of the largest companies in Zambia. I was chased from school every year for none payment. It was as frequent as annual traditional ceremonies in Zambia. But when sent back home, I changed home into a library and I don’t remember being number two in school. I was always number one. Anyway my elder brother was clear that he would supply what he could but expected us to work with integrity for the rest.
Friends, this man literally set the foundation for my life. I would probably not be born again without him. He died never having obtained a degree but he facilitated for all my brothers, all of whom, are almost degree holders to obtain them. At the time I was writing this book I was a Masters Degree holder with several other qualifications and also a student in two doctorate programs. I am teaching principles of work with deep insight because he showed me that I was only entitled to eat if I worked.
Friends there is a tendency to highly praise what people out there do for us and belittle what our relatives do for us. This ought not to be so. If you look around you, many of your relatives sacrifice so much for you. They may never ask you to say thank you but make it a habit to stay grateful. Like we always say, great people are grateful people. Your uncle or aunt may be very tough but they give you shelter and many other things. Be grateful for those opportunities.
But the greatest way to say “thank you” to family is to maximize the opportunities they give you and to make the most of them. Your father, uncle, cousin, brother or sister may not even be looking for you to pay them back in any way. All they need sometimes is for you to take advantage of the opportunities, they give you maximize them and become the best you can. This will motivate them to help you more. This is the best “thank you” that one can sometimes give them. Ofcourse you are smarter if you can show your thank you in form of giving back to them; irrespective of whether they can afford things for themselves or not. This has to do with honouring them.
Friend, that brother, sister, uncle and aunt of yours maybe very tough on you but be very grateful for what they are doing for you because you are not necessarily entitled to their help. I know that born again people will tell me that the bible says “the one who cannot take care of his family is worse than an infidel; so we are entitled to family help”. But this was referring to your own wife and children. I have a duty to take care of my wife and children, but it was that of my parents, whose children my brothers and sisters are, to take care of them. That particular scripture in 1 Timothy 5:8 emphasizes your immediate family even if it encourages us to also care for our relatives. This is a moral obligation and not a right on the recipients of such help the way one’s children have the right to be cared for by such a parent.
Am I saying you should not help your relatives and siblings? Absolutely not. But I am encouraging you to know that opportunities from family members must be taken as seriously as opportunities from anyone else because they are as potent and can change your life forever.
Take time after reading this to call all your relatives who have helped you in life and say a big thank you to them. It will gladden their hearts and yours and set you all up for a happier future. Congratulations for doing it.
THIS IS AN EXTRACT FROM MY BOOK TITLED WHAT I LEARNT AS A YOUTH. WE WILL BE ANNOUNCING THE ARRIVAL DATE OF BOOKS IN ZAMBIA BY NEXT WEEK MONDAY. WE WILL ALSO INFORM YOU ABOUT THE OUTLETS IN YOUR VARIOUS CITIES. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE .
For now tag all your relatives and friends who have contributed to your life and say “thank you for everything you have done for me”. Then share , share and reshare so many others will learn this wisdom.
Photo: With our first and second born sons Yasha and Christian respectively.