Why I Wrote This Book
My wife made me write this book; there is no other explanation. She has been relaying the impact this message had on her life the first time she heard me deliver it, and the impact it continues to have. Over the years, her desire had been for me to share that message with a broader audience, and now, after more than twenty years, I believe it is time.
A lot has transpired since I preached on this topic in a small rural church on the outskirts of Buea, Cameroon. I was a second-year student at the University of Buea, and already engaged to my wife, when I went to the church to preach on the topic, “What do you have?”
Little did I know that my fiancée – now my wife – was listening to the message intently and that it had a profound impact on her. Now that we are married, sometimes the lessons in the message will come up, and she reminds me of how strongly it brought things into perspective for her. Finally, it’s time to share the message with a broader audience and present a more in-depth version. It has been over twenty years since that night in Buea, and I’ve witnessed firsthand the power of knowing what you have and making use of it.
Leave Your Job
In 2016, the oil and gas industry went through one of its all-too-frequent downturns. During these slumps, driven by low prices, hundreds (if not thousands) of workers are laid off. This one was so severe that close to half-a-million people in the industry lost their jobs; I was one of them.
My wife secured a position at the university from which she had just graduated, but after one month, she came home and told me that she was leaving the job. My first reaction was, “You must be kidding!” Here I was, unemployed, and she was talking about quitting her job! How would we pay our mortgage, feed our five children, and take care of other pressing needs? Despite this obvious challenge, I could not insist that she keep working when she felt she was being led in another direction.
The way forward was not an easy one. Our youngest son was a little over a year old and needed someone to look after him. Until then, none of our children had been placed in daycare; we had decided that we didn’t want them looked after by other people. Our main reason for this was that we wanted to instill our family values in our children while they were still young, so they would be successful as they grew older. During the one month that my wife was working, I took care of our son, but now, she would stay at home while I tried to figure out what to do.
I felt it was time for me to leave the oil and gas industry, transitioning to something else. Clearly, we wouldn’t have an immediate income. Therefore, the financial pressure on us was immense; we had just bought a house hoping that my job in that industry would help pay the mortgage. Now that the job was gone, we didn’t have enough money to pay our monthly bills, much less the mortgage.
That was when my wife started thinking about the message again: “What do you have?” After twenty years, its impact was still evident. She started praying and thinking, assessing what she had at hand, and considering how she could use it in our present situation.
After much time in prayer and contemplation, she realized that she already had the following:
· a master's degree in child development
· a great deal of experience taking care of children, both in clinical settings and with her own
· a house in a safe neighborhood
Bingo! She connected the dots and decided that she would start a home daycare.
Her reasons were twofold. First, she could take care of our son at home. Second, she would be paid for taking care of other children as well. She put in the paperwork and got the necessary permits to launch her idea.
After three months of waiting, she had registered her first child, and with time, she was able to operate at full capacity. She was now taking care of our young son and being paid for it; she made more money than she had earned at the university! Besides running the home daycare, she was inspired to open her own practice as a parenting consultant – even more rewarding professionally, emotionally, and financially.
Now, two years after quitting her university job, my wife is so excited because things are getting better and better for her. She believes that the decision to change paths was the best answer – and I agree with her.
I have personally witnessed what happens when you make use of what you already have at hand; the benefits are always easy to see in hindsight. The day my wife came home and told me she was going to stop working, I didn’t like it because my focus was on what we were going through and what we would lose. I didn’t think about what might be gained in the process; I wasn’t even thinking about that as a possibility. Now, however, I agree that it was the best decision – and one of the best things that ever happened to us.
There is no substitute for discovering what you already have and deploying it to resolve whatever issue or challenge you are facing. The natural reaction for most people is to look for help and resources from somewhere else. That makes sense because, when encountering an obstacle, the last thing on your mind is what it will take to resolve the issue. It is naturally more comforting when you expect that help will come from somewhere else; it removes your responsibility for solving the problem.
Most people are afraid to be in charge because when things go wrong, they do not want the blame. This explains why they tend to look for solutions from other people and other sources (not that there is something wrong with looking for an answer or asking for help from other people.) There are a place and time to ask for help in seeking solutions, but here, we are focusing on how you identify and make use of what you already have.
Fortunately, most of what some consider insurmountable obstacles can be easily overcome, but they must identify that they already have what is needed to get them through. That is why this book was written – to highlight the potential already in you and how to release it to overcome hurdles in your life.
Even if you are not dealing with an obstacle, to experience unlimited increase and supernatural abundance in your life, you must learn how to identify what you already have and how to use it.
If you are unhappy with where your life is right now, this book was written for you. The book was also written for those who think that something prevents them from becoming all they were created to be. They just know that something is not right because they are not excelling and experiencing success.
This morning, as I was writing, I was struck by something that happened nine years ago. I say this because my 45th birthday was celebrated last Thursday. In 2010, I had a birthday during one of the most challenging times in our lives. You can read about that in “From Cameroon to American Citizen: A Journey of Faith.” I had lost my job due to an economic downturn, and being an international worker on a temporary work permit, could not get a different position.
To make matters worse, I had to go back to school to maintain my legal status in the country. That meant I was racking up a great deal of debt on my credit card to pay for tuition without knowing when I would be able to pay it off. In fact, for nine months, I did not earn a dime.
In the midst of all this, on the morning of my birthday, our children - who were eight, five, and three - walked into my room with a shoebox and handed it to me. They had put together a birthday gift for me, and it was no ordinary birthday gift. They had scribed the following note on a piece of paper:
“Dear Daddy, thank you for tickling us and reading our Bible stories. And I wish you a happy birthday,
They had drawn some hearts and decorated the card to the best of their ability. You can see the picture of the card below. They also placed a piece of ceramic art in the box with the words “love, joy, peace” written on it, followed by Galatians 5:22.
When the box was handed to me, and I opened it and read their note, I started crying; even now, as I write, I am crying tears of appreciation because of the strong emotions this evokes. I kept the shoebox because I knew a day would come when I would be standing in front of thousands of people and using this to encourage them to make use of what they already have. The box was fetched from my closet when the thought of what our children did hit me: You are a beneficiary of little children’s thoughtfulness.
All of us can learn from this type of gesture. The fact that we were going through financial difficulties did not prevent my children from appreciating me and celebrating my birthday. They could have been justified for not doing anything because they “did not have anything.” But is that true? They had nothing? The action clearly shows they had something because they made use of what they already had.
The highest poverty is not lacking; it is not recognizing what you already have. When you do not make use of what you already have, more will not be given to you. What we have gets multiplied when we use it to render services to other people.
The size of the gift is not as important as the spirit behind the gift. Most people will appreciate a sincere effort more than a fake gift with the wrong spirit behind it, no matter how grand and expensive it is.
I Do Not Have
How often have you heard people say, “I do not have”? Or how often do you state, “I do not have”? This is not only referring to a lack of money, social status, or other resources. Some people feel and say they do not have what it takes to be anything in life. Nothing saps the energy out of us more than thinking or saying that you do not have.
Another reason this book was written is to dismantle this notion of lacking that many people express. Many think only in terms of money and material things, but our resources are more than the material – we have both physical and spiritual resources. Unfortunately, since spiritual resources like empathy, love, honesty, etc. cannot be seen and touched, many discount them.
For example, time is one of the most essential resources we have. In fact, time is more important than anything else because we convert time into material things. The truth is that we all have twenty-four hours each day; therefore, the outcome of our lives is determined by how we use our time.
No wonder one of the greatest complaints people give is lack of time. People lack time to take care of their health, fitness, and wellness. Some have no time to take care of their relationships. Others do not have time for spiritual things. They consider meditation, prayer, and studying the Word of God a waste of time. The admonition that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10) has eluded them. I have read in many books, blogs, and various articles that most successful people meditate in the morning and read something that feeds their minds positively. I even propose that it would be beneficial to you, both in this life and the life to come, to take care of your spiritual life; this is the part of you that will live forever.
In the minds of most people, using “a lack of time” to justify why they are not doing something is good enough reasoning; I believe the issue is more profound than that. Everyone has time to do the things on which their lives depend. You must admit that your priorities are different; therefore, it is not a lack of time preventing you from doing what you should be doing; if it were significant enough in your mind or heart, you would find time for it. As soon as you realize that your life and physical wellbeing may be jeopardized, you’ll create an opening in your schedule for that undertaking.
Everybody has something, as the story of the widow’s mite demonstrates; we can use it to bless others’ lives. We were all born with a purpose and have been equipped with what we need to fulfill that purpose. Along the line, we will need help from other people, but we must take the first step before expecting any help from others.
Therefore, stop saying you do not have and start making use of what you have already; if you look closely enough, you will realize that you have a great deal going for you right now!
The Spiritual Drives the Natural
We live in a secular age, and some people shun anything spiritual, believing that anything spiritual must not be scientific. If they are confusing the spiritual with the religious, they may have a point. The “spiritual” simply means anything that cannot be physically touched, but it is there. We can see, feel, and enjoy the benefits, but cannot measure it in the lab.
Take, for example, integrity, honesty, courage, fear, love, hope, faith, joy, peace, determination, faithfulness, etc. When we see courage, we will know because it leaves trails, and yet we cannot determine if a baby in the womb will be courageous, loving, kind, compassionate, and caring. The fact that we cannot measure these important human attributes does not mean they do not exist.
Without the spiritual, the physical would not be possible. Everything we see in the physical world first existed in someone’s mind before it was made in the physical. Therefore, without imagination and proper use of the human mind, there is no room for inventions, innovations, and change.
While the physical may appear to drive everything around us, it is the spiritual that is in the driver’s seat. I say this to emphasize the importance of making use of one of the most critical resources we already have: our minds! If you have a sound, functioning mind such that you can dream and come up with great ideas, you are already positioned to make a significant impact on the world around you.
Some have said that whatever your mind can conceive and believe, you can achieve. To their credit, it is not a coincidence that all the great inventions and significant breakthroughs in human history started in the mind. One day, someone figured out in their mind that we could fly, then they went out and started experimenting on this great idea. The idea preceded the experimentation.
The ability to see things with the mind’s eyes before these things become physical is called faith. While many people think that faith means a blind leap and trust without evidence or substance, their definition of faith is distorted; it is not faith itself. Faith is an integral part of human life, and we use it all the time.
For example, it takes faith to get on an airplane and fly from one point to another, even though we have little understanding of the laws of aerodynamics. Before you take this act of faith for granted, I want you to think about those who have no confidence in flying. These are individuals who suffer from flight phobia, aviophobia, or aerophobia. No matter what the cause of their fear, in extreme cases, they will not step into an airplane no matter what. They do not believe that the plane can take off and land safely at their destination.
The proper definition: “faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1 King James Bible) Or: “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Heb. 11:1 NIV)
Based on these definitions, those who do not have faith in flying do not see themselves arriving at their destination; their faithlessness manifested in their refusal to board the plane. On the other hand, those who have faith in flying are certain that they will get to their destination, which is made evident by boarding that airplane.
There are many different types of faith, degrees of faith, as well as objects of faith. This implies that your faith is only as good as the object of your faith because there is no such thing as faith in faith itself.
I bring up this issue of faith because it is at the heart of making use of what you already have and experiencing supernatural growth and increase. You must develop the latitude for the miraculous because, without anticipation and expectation of the extraordinary in your life, you will be limiting yourself.
We will be looking at stories of individuals who experienced miraculous changes in their lives when they used what they already had. I hope that you will read those stories and the associated analysis within the context of a proper understanding of what faith is.
While it is essential to have faith in your giftedness and resources you already possess, the ultimate faith should be in God, your creator. When you trust God to do what He has promised, you will experience the miraculous and the supernatural. Therefore, do not let the physical be the primary driver in your life, instead allow the spiritual to be in charge. When you do this, you will be unstoppable.
A Personal Note
The purpose of this book is to help you focus on what you already have right now to resolve whatever challenge you may be facing. Initially, things will be chaotic, confusing, and unsettling because change is not usually comfortable. But if you hang in there, you will have clarity and a sense of direction.
I mentioned that I moved out of the oil and gas industry. My first reaction was to look for another job as a geologist, but I felt that it was time for me to pursue other things I enjoyed: writing and speaking. However, it took a few detours for me to arrive at this conclusion. I procured my life insurance license and started helping people with their finances, which motivated me to get into the finance industry. Educating people about financial freedom excited me, and still does. But during this process, I realized that I could write and speak.
The next step was to figure out what I already had that could help me move in this direction. Then I realized that I won my first poetry competition in secondary school, yet writing had been something I had shied away from for a while. I already had a doctorate and could teach while writing. Everything started falling into place for me. It has been a slow process, but I have made a lot of progress and am extremely happy that I left the oil and gas industry.
You are reading this book because I decided to make use of what I already had. Most of my teaching is online, demanding a lot of writing, as it is one of the main avenues through which faculty communicates with students. For me, this means that my writing skills are sharpened with each passing day. I also shoot videos for my class, allowing me to practice my speaking, in addition to the face-to-face classes I am currently teaching.
When I look ahead, I am more than excited because, finally, I am in a place where all I have been through is being used to move me to the next place God wants me to be.
My message: Do not be afraid to make use of the resources you already have. You may feel that you have nothing because you think you have to be someone else, but where you are right now is the right place, and everything that you have been through has been preparing you for this moment. Your past is not a liability; it is an asset you need to move to the next level.
I want you to read with this mindset, having your eyes open to your existing potential and resources that will move you forward. This will be a journey of personal discovery for you; my prayer is that you will do the deep soul-searching required to unlock your great potential.
Come with me; let us walk together as we allow both past and present heroes to show us how to recognize and use what we already have. Are you ready to dive in? Let’s do it!