THE MAKING OF A CHAMPION AND THE LESSONS FROM MY FATHER
National Reading Competition
I returned from Abuja on June 13, 2006 after winning the most prestigious interschool competition back then, the National Reading Competition sponsored by Maltina brand of Nigeria Breweries Plc. Arriving home late that night, I ran to hug my dad and to show him my award plague. I wanted to tell him that his words were true. Unfortunately, he couldn’t talk or smile. I inquired from mum what happened. My mum drew me by the hand out of the sitting room and told me my dad had stroke the day I left home. She said they didn’t tell me because it could have affected my performance at the finals. I wept. But he miraculously picked up his speech some days later and we could talk about the behind the scene stories of the competition. National Reading Competition
Few days before I left home for Abuja, my father called me to give me his pieces of advice. He told me never to be distracted by the luxuries of of Transcorp Hilton. He warned me not to allow last minute luxuries deny me the fruit of days of hard work. ‘Last minute discipline matters.’ He specifically said I must not take any drink from the refrigerator in my room, except we are given by the organizers.
I qualified for the finals of the competition after coming first in the regional finals in Ibadan. Five of us qualified to represent the six states of the region. We were expected to read three prescribed novels and to answer quizzes from general knowledge. We would be slogging it out with representatives of other regions. National Reading Competition
We arrived Transcorp on Sunday afternoon and I was ushered into my room at the fifth floor or so. Beautiful room directly overhead the large pool and garden behind the hotel. Excusite. My first temptation was standing by the window blind to savor the bikini bodies of ladies that line the sides of the pool and the Chinese ladies and children in the garden. It’s a scenic view you can never get tired of. My first response was to shot the window blind. Then, I had to face the enemy within: the wide screen television where an important World Cup match was to be broadcast. I mustered courage to switch it off. And then comes the mother of all: my room mate arrived and wanted to open everything I had closed. He wanted to take the non-alcoholic drink in the refrigerator too and I knew I would fall like Adam in eating the forbidden fruit. It took several minutes to talk him into dropping all his intentions. I owe him so much for his forbearance.
Later that night we had a cocktail party with the organizers. As I moved from table to table, I felt more uncomfortable because of the words of my father. I left for my room later to pick up my book. My coach had told me beforehand that the exam would test our speed accuracy rather than knowledge of the novels, so I was told to get more and more familiar with the subthemes of the books. I used eighty percent of the night to brush up my knowledge, using hot tea to keep sleep away.
The following morning, instead of going to have my food by buffet service at the restaurant, I went to the exam venue. There I got the most important information of the day. I listened to two teachers coaching a contestant on an area I was yet to fully grasp. The boy did not get their explanation but I did. Lo and behold, that was the second question in the exam. I quietly did justice to it, the way the coaches explained and that I understood it. I think those teachers were heaven sent. Thankfully, I scored all the questions in the quiz and was declared the winner….National Reading Competition…
You may want to know whether the sacrifice was worth it. Winning was great but the effect of winning was greater. If I hadn’t win, I wouldn’t have got a cash prize and my first laptop in SS1. My school would not have gotten textbooks for the a library and sets of computers and printers. I would not have been reported in more than five national dailies. A documentary about my family, my school and community would not air on six national television stations. My school would not even smell the donation of a three classroom block. I would not have inspired so many juniors to greater successes in school. The population of my school wouldn’t have doubled from the following term. Most importantly, the recovery of my father from his stroke wouldn’t even be rapid.
While I give God all the glory, I think there is a big rhema from the instruction of my dad: giving the last minute sacrifice. Joseph understood this principle and refused to trade five minute pleasure for a rule over an empire. Our Lord Jesus endured the cross and the shame because he saw the joy that was last ahead of him. Stephen saw where he was going and started praying for his enemies. Apostle Paul understood this when he said a soldier that is desirous of winning does not entangle himself with civilian affairs.
My dear, what has the Lord being requesting from you of late as a step towards your victory. A few days fasting? Sowing seeds into a ministry? Quiting what you think is your best job yet? Yielding to his instruction to move out of your comfort zone. If you know what you stand to gain by simple obedience to pay the last minute sacrifice, you would not squeeze your nose before adhering. If you know that a world cup match will never be worth a national trophy, you will never sleep at the time of breakthrough. You will give it all it takes and requires. You will never allow the small things rob you of greater things. You will take your cross and follow straight away because you know the pains of now will never be compared with the joy that is to come. Shalom.