You see, I genuinely love the word of God and I love finding out things. Out of the goodness of his heart, the Lord has graciously granted me unique insight into his word. This lecture is the third part of the knowledge continuum began in the first service. It’s titled 7 Kilograms of Thought, One Man Named Adam and Sundry Business Knowledge. Each service has a different message. I did not want to teach the same lesson in all three services. It is only fit we have a feast of knowledge.
In this service you’ll learn the following:
- The need for continuous learning
- Business administration
- The function of values
- Immersive learning systems
- What they won’t teach you in business school
I want to begin this afternoon or thereabout, by leading us on an inspection of the topographical dimensions of Eden. I do not know if you’re aware, but the totality of Eden was not the Garden. There was Eden, and then there was the Garden to the east of Eden. And then we have the environs of Eden. Let’s call those Outer Eden.
Genesis 2:8-14: “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.”
Havilah was in Outer Eden. It was rich in gold and mineral resources. The gold in Havilah was top grade the Bible says.
The topographical layout of Eden is an allegory of business development.
Adam the first man was formed in an unspecified place. The Bible gives us no specification on the place of his origination. We know when he was made but we do not have information on the place of his aboriginality. In essence, he was an idea conceptualized in a place of obscurity and anonymity. The place of ideas is a place of anonymity.
From thence the gentleman named Adam was placed in the Garden. The Garden was both a school and a place of labour. It was a place of industrial attachment. From there Adam was expected to multiply over the surface of the earth, to go forth and take over the world. The Garden was just an arboretum. An arboretum is a place where trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants are cultivated for scientific and educational purposes. It was in the Garden that Adam received codified instruction and for the first time learnt about laws. The Garden was a school in many regards.
As pointed out, outside this garden laid Havilah, the place of gold. Havilah was in Outer Eden.
And so we have three locations: the place of anonymity, the Garden of Eden and Havilah, the place of gold.
Business development takes place in three locations. You begin in anonymity, in a place unknown, an unspecified place. Then you move into the Garden, the place of knowledge and instruction, of development of capability. Then and only then can you move into Havilah, the place of gold.
Even those in established businesses must go through this three-part process every time they come up with an idea. The idea takes place in anonymity, in the nether parts of the brain. Then they seek to acquire knowledge and data on the idea. They work and till the idea in the Garden. After much labour they move into the place of gold and reap the treasures in the idea.
If you’re anonymous today don’t despair. You’ve begun your three-step journey to Havilah. We always begin in anonymity. Ideas are generated in anonymity; where no one knows you or reckons with you. You are an unspecified being, in an unspecified place, with an unspecified idea. Your idea has no identity. Not even a business name. You don’t have a brand.
Then you move into the Garden, a place of knowledge and instruction, where you learn the rules of business. This church is your Garden of Eden this morning. After some time tilling the idea in the Garden you’ll move into Havilah.
God’s way is three-way. Even the Son of God started in a place of obscurity, a manger. For thirty-three years he labored in the Garden, learning, preaching, tilling the ground. His temptations and persecution took place in the Garden, just like the first Adam. But after the cross, he moved into Havilah, the place of glory. His riches are in Glory the Bible says: “For my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in Glory by Christ Jesus.” God’s way is three-staged.
Unfortunately, man prefers a two-stage system. Young men and women in particular want a two-part system: they want to generate ideas and thereafter move to Havilah. They don’t want to pass through the Garden. That’s not God’s methodology.
The Garden is where we obtain knowledge. It’s where we learn business discipline. If you have a fantastic business idea but lack knowledge and discipline: if you don’t understand how to structure a business, you won’t enter Havilah.
It’s important to learn business discipline in practical terms. It’s why I encourage young men and women to work in a firm or corporation before branching out. And if you’re currently in employment, I advise you to put in your best. You’ll be doing yourself a world of good. It’s preparation for your future.
What if you don’t have the opportunity for employment? What if life’s circumstances force you to start a business early?
If life doesn’t give you the opportunity to learn in a workplace you have to bridge the gap somehow. You’ve got to find a way to learn. Seek out mentors. Experience matters. It is why the venture capitalists that backed Google insisted Eric Schmidt be hired as CEO. He was an experienced and much older business administrator. He was CEO of Novell. The Google boys were no doubt brilliant but the business needed a pair of experienced hands. Eric Schmidt was their mentor too.
I’ve heard some young men boast about never going to work for anybody, but such statements are puerile – a massive demonstration of ignorance and quite immature actually. Among peers, especially in the early stages of life such bravado makes us feel important but as time goes by you’ll realize nobody cares; and life doesn’t care much about such boastings either. I do remember one or two classmates of ours whose fathers upon their graduation immediately got them offices in high-rise buildings to start their law firms. Knowing what I know now that wasn’t a wise move. You need tutelage to succeed in a profession like law. It’s amazing that none of those people has name recognition in legal circles today. It’s not how you start that matters. The end of a thing is better than the beginning.
One of the most important things I learnt working in a law firm was filing. Yes, humble filing, filing of documents. You don’t know how important filing is. Lack of proper filing can destroy your business. When as a young lawyer I struck out to launch a law practice thinking I was going to practice law, I made a working pact with a very senior lawyer. He was more of a politician than a lawyer actually. He was brilliant but wasn’t really interested in law. In exchange for office space I had to help him prosecute some of his cases in court. But his filing was atrocious. Documents weren’t properly filed. Loose sheets were everywhere. There were no court annotations on files. The numbering and dating of the files was terrible. Try and imagine what a nightmare that was, in a profession that depends on documentation for success. I had to abandon the working arrangement.
As a very young lawyer working in a chamber, I was assigned a case to handle. It was a debt recovery brief from the defunct National Bank. There was only one problem. You couldn’t construct a case from the documentation of the bank. Here was a bank that had given out massive loans yet had no proper documentation. We were the second law firm to be assigned the case. The first law firm probably got frustrated. To reconstruct the case I had to go into the archives and vault of the Lagos High Court. I reconfigured the case from the court filing of the defendant! Is it any wonder National Bank is no more today? Only God knows how many bad loans went unrecovered.
Record keeping is important in business. Solomon said orderly thinking is from the Lord. A good filing system is evidence of an ordered and disciplined mind. The filing system is often a snap shot of a business. It establishes whether things are done haphazardly in a business or not.
Establish procedures in your business, especially for the mundane: responding to orders, invoicing, receipting, writing letters etc. Letters are critical in business. You have to learn how to write letters. You even have to learn how to write congratulatory and commiseration letters. You have to write your clients when they lose their loved ones. And you have to congratulate them when good things happen to them. The Bible says rejoice with those that rejoice, mourn with those that mourn.
And you’ve got to keep learning if you want to enter Havilah. That’s why mentoring is important. That’s why we associate with successful people and understudy successful businesses. It’s why we go for courses even after starting business. It’s why we read business journals, books, magazines… Fortune, Fast Company, Forbes; why we watch CNBC, Bloomberg, CNN. It’s why we attend Elevation Church.
You can’t learn unless you’re humble. And learning is not always about textbooks. The Garden of Eden was an immersive experience for Adam. You acquire knowledge through studies and by osmosis.
Just being around some people, or just reading about them changes your orientation and outlook, sparks ideas in your head. I recommend the reading of biographies. Mathew, Mark, Luke and John are authorized biographies of Jesus. It’s why they’re so inspirational. Read other biographies too. Some people keep speaking from the dead.
And hanging around some people can be transformative. The Pharisees were shocked to see ordinary fishermen like Peter speak in elevated terms, and even diction. They had been with Jesus. They spoke with so much confidence, referencing literary properties. Was unbelievable! Jesus was an immersive experience for them: the way he spoke, the projection of his voice when he spoke to the crowds; his passion, self-confidence, social skills – he was mingling with the high and mighty, going for dinners. There was his dress sense, his values – sense of justice and fairness; his mission and vision; his corporate social responsibility focus, his organizational skills, mentoring skills, planning ability… Like the first Adam, he multiplied from one man to billions in the world today. And he ran his ministry with business discipline. He understood business principles. There are dimensions of God you must reach out for. You’re short-changing yourself if all you learn from Jesus is how to be a good person.
God is not a two dimensional cardboard personality. We tend to see God through a two-dimensional prism – God the Jurist who is savior and judge; and God the Benevolent – the one who provides all we need – healing, food, guidance, protection, deliverance…
God is not just God the Jurist and God the Benevolent! He’s also God the Scientist, God the Businessman, God the Sovereign. In the Parable of the Talents we meet God the Businessman. This God is not the same as God the Benevolent. God the venture capitalist is very particulate about money. He expects returns on his investments. And he says the least return he expects is the rate of interest on a fixed deposit. You’re not a nice Christian because you sell your goods on credit and don’t pursue your money. You’re indeed foolish because the God who set you up in business is going to ask for return on HIS money!
Each of the entrepreneurs in the parable was seeded with capital according to capacity and capability. This takes us back to the Garden of Eden, the arboretum and school where Adam was supposed to develop his capacity. God never told him he would not exceed the Garden. God never limited his ambition to the Garden. The Garden was just a sphere of responsibility, an immersive learning environment. The world was his! Havilah was his! He just hadn’t gotten there yet.
Without developed capacity, you can’t access Havilah. God will not promote a novice. 1Timothy 3:6 says that when a novice is exalted, such promotion goes to the head. The novice becomes prideful and the devil goes after him. When God takes us through the place of instruction and industrial attachment, it is for our own good. Now you know why young men lose their head over trifles. They’re novices. Give a young man a beautiful sports car, a business making a small but commendable amount of money, add a beautiful girlfriend and he’ll drive the car right up the church aisle. (Special parking space).
It follows from the preceding that the arboretum called the Garden of Eden was not just for the acquisition of skills; it was also for the acquisition of values. As a horticulturist, Adam would have learnt the principle of sowing and reaping; he would have had to learn the virtues of patience waiting for fruits to grow. He would have learnt the principle of tolerance of divergence – each plant was unique. He would have learnt purpose: each plant had a purpose – some for beauty, some for food. He would have understood diversity. The plants came as different species. He would have learnt organizational structuring from the ecosystem of the garden, and the role of interdependence. He would also have learnt about the cycles of life. Without these values Adam would self-destruct in Havilah.
Harvard Business School has had to revise its curriculum when it became embarrassingly clear that some of its graduates were poster boys of corporate malfeasance. People like Jeff Skilling of the infamous Enron. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison. Their heads were swollen with knowledge but their hearts contained little virtue. A swollen head and a lean heart is a dangerous combination. It’s why Paul was given a thorn in the flesh. He had too much revelation for a human. The man wrote half of the New Testament, saw things mortals should not see, whose communication was criminal negligence. And so God took extra-ordinary measures to keep him grounded. According to him, the thorn in the flesh brought him to his knees. And so was led into a new revelation of grace – another dimension of grace, a version that will confound our religious orthodoxy. God sometimes takes precautionary measures in our lives. His teaching methods can be very curious.
Prophet Ezekiel wrote about a very sharp dude, a Harvard alumnus named Prince of Tyre. Very prideful fellow. Too much money. Listen to what the Bible says about him. Ezekiel 28. I’m reading from the Message Translation: Ezekiel 28:3-5, “Look, you think you’re smarter than Daniel. No enigmas can stump you. Your sharp intelligence made you world-wealthy. You piled up gold and silver in your banks.
You used your head well, worked good deals, made a lot of money. But the money has gone to your head, swelled your head – what a big head!”
God promised this guy he’ll send people to bring him down, make nonsense of his reputation, puncture his balloon and bury him. He was in fact going to procure assassins against him. You’ll see why God was so particular about this guy later.
When God has progressed you to Havilah, don’t lose your head. Don’t let money get into your head. Keep yourself grounded. Be humble. Don’t behave like Nebuchadnezzar. Uncle Nebu woke up one day and surveyed his kingdom; boasted about his glory and the splendor of his majesty; bragging about how he’d accomplished all by himself (Daniel 4:30). He lost it all and served a 7-year sentence in a sanitarium administrated by wild life.
Attainment pride is a tempting proposition to every achiever. I don’t care who you are, the thought will come. When the thought comes to your head, quickly renounce it. Don’t survey your office, number of staff, departments, sales figures, financials, market share, share price and begin to see the great I am. You’re the great I’m not. Don’t let God tell you who the Great I am is. God mercifully knocks us back into position when we’re going off kilter. He gives us a little bit of business difficulty. And suddenly we realize we can lose it all; that we’re not so secure after all. Be humble before God.
Pride is Lucifer’s disease and you have to watch out for it. Business success can be so intoxicating some people begin to challenge God’s governmental structure by challenging the servant of God. They want to know what the pastor is doing with the offering; after all they give a big chunk of it. They constitute themselves into the chief financial controller of the church. They want to give instructions to the same pastor who taught them the laws of prosperity and prayed for their prosperity on how to administer the church. They want to tell the pastor what to preach, invitations to accept. They keep an inventory of the pastor’s possessions. If the pastor’s wife buys a new dress they tabulate the cost. These are guys who bring calculator to church. If she buys jewelry, where did the money come from? And some like King Uzziah insist on taking on pastoral duties. They want to burn incense before the altar. It is interesting that the Message Translation of the Bible uses the same family of expressions for the fall of Lucifer for the fall of Uzziah: “Everything seemed to go his way. But then the strength and success went to his head. Arrogant and proud, he fell.” 2Chronicles 26:16-21 Uzziah was struck with leprosy. Moral: Glory can easily turn to leprosy.
It is important in life to have a healthy relationship with money. Once you give an offering it’s no longer yours. As a seed it dies. You no longer have control over it. Like Peter asked Ananias, “Whiles it remained, was it not thine own?” No one forced you to give! Once you give it’s no longer yours. Or should you be expecting God to bless what you hold on to?
And some people lease their tithes and offerings. When they have a problem with church leadership, they demand a refund. You must have a healthy relationship with money. Distance your real self from it. Don’t let it define you. You’re just a steward. Be humble.
In closing, let me touch on something you’ll never learn in business school. Let me give you a little bit of insight as to why Satan brought down Adam.
Satan used to have the same privileges as Adam, even higher privileges. Ezekiel 28 is divided into two parts. The first part is about the PRINCE of Tyre, a Phoenician kingdom that occupied where Lebanon is presently. He was the guy we spoke about earlier, the sharp dude. The second part of Ezekiel 28 is a lamentation against the KING of Tyre. So you have the Prince and you have the King, both reigning at once. I’ll explain.
The Prince of Tyre was a mere mortal but he fancied himself a god. He boasted that he sat on God’s throne. In fact when you read the passage, his boastfulness sounded very much like the prideful paroxysms of Lucifer – how he would ascend into heaven and exalt his throne above the stars of God, and be like the Most High (Isaiah 14:12-14). The statements credited to the Prince of Tyre echoed the same sentiments.
Why was the Prince of Tyre channeling Lucifer? For the simple reason that the motivator, the inspirer, the power behind his throne was Lucifer. He was the King of Tyre.
Ezekiel 28:11-19 states that Lucifer had everything going for him. (I advise you to read a modern translation like The Message to gain understanding). Let me read out to you:
Ezekiel 28:11-19 The Message:
“God’s Message came to me: Son of man, raise a funeral song over the king of Tyre. Tell him, A Message from God, the Master: ‘You had everything going for you. You were in Eden, God’s garden. You were dressed in splendor, your robe studded with jewels: Carnelian, peridot, and moonstone, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald, all in settings of engraved gold. A robe was prepared for you the same day you were created. You were the anointed cherub. I placed you on the mountain of God. You strolled in magnificence among the stones of fire. From the day of your creation you were sheer perfection . . . and then imperfection – evil! – was detected in you. In much buying and selling you turned violent, you sinned! I threw you, disgraced, off the mountain of God. I threw you out – you, the anointed angel-cherub. No more strolling among the gems of fire for you! Your beauty went to your head. You corrupted wisdom by using it to get worldly fame. I threw you to the ground, sent you sprawling before an audience of kings and let them gloat over your demise. By sin after sin after sin, by your corrupt ways of doing business, you defiled your holy places of worship. So I set a fire around and within you. It burned you up. I reduced you to ashes. All anyone sees now when they look for you is ashes, a pitiful mound of ashes. All who once knew you now throw up their hands: ‘This can’t have happened! This has happened!’”
You can see that Lucifer had more going for him than Adam. His splendoral blessing was described as “The Garden of Eden.” He physically possessed wealth and riches – precious stones. Lucifer was incredibly wealthy. Still is. Adam’s Havilah was child’s play to what Satan possessed. Look at the number of stones mentioned in the passage – ten mineral resources. And he was an entrepreneur angel. He traded, did business. And then the whole thing went to his head. The fame, the riches, the business, his beauty… everything went to his head. He couldn’t handle wealth. And he soon challenged God. That was his doom.
For Lucifer, it was unimaginable that God would raise up a genetically inferior being like Adam as substitute to him, confer glory and splendor on him. The Lucifer who channeled himself through the Serpent in the Garden was a jealous Lucifer. He had to bring down Adam, get him disgraced out of the Garden, just like he was disgraced out of Heaven. And for the first time we can contextualize the tone of the Serpent. The Serpent spoke like someone who had a long history of political association with God, like someone with insider knowledge, someone in the know.
There are some things they won’t teach you in business school. Jealousy is one of such subjects. It’s not on any curriculum I know. Yet it’s real.
You can’t be stupid. Once the benevolence and grace of God is manifest on your business you’re going to have to cope with jealousy. And it can be vicious. Once your life begins to show promise some people are just going to hate you. Many times those jealous of you have more than you. It can be discombobulating. Jealousy is real and dangerous. Don’t you be stupid. Don’t be like Joseph. He was so naïve he was blabbing to his potential murderers about his dreams. Never assume that the state of your heart towards others is the state of their heart towards you. And just like the serpent was hiding in the tree waiting for Eve, so those who hate you hide under various trees – the tree of niceness, the tree of kindness, the tree of concern, even the tree of prayers. Until they have opportunity to strike you down. Jealousy kills. Be wise.
It is God’s desire to move us all to Havilah. It all depends on us. Can you conceptualize ideas? Can you develop your capacity? Can you learn? Can you work hard? Can you keep your head? Can you be humble? Can you be wise? These are the big questions before you today. May the good Lord grant you wisdom. Amen.
Thank you and God bless!
Delivered at Elevation Church Lekki Phase 1, Lagos
Sunday, December 1, 2013
© Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org