Youthful stage is the time of life when one is young and often means the time between childhood and adulthood(maturity). According to youth dictionary, it is defined as the appearance, freshness, vigor, spirit, etc characteristics of one who is young. Youth is an experience that may shape an individuals level of dependency, which can be marked in various ways according to different cultural perspectives, personal experience and individuals cultural norms and traditions, while youths level of dependency means the extent to which they still rely on their family emotionally and economically.
Being useful is to be of a valuable or productive kind. A youth must therefore not only be full of strength, you also need to be productive. This means that a youth should be a man or woman of value, adding positive impacts to the society and the world at large.
Painfully, our generation has gotten to a point where everyone is so interested in jumping into success without labor, the youths of this generation are eager to reap where they never sowed. We are becoming incompetent and giving more time and attention to things that doesn’t matter forgetting that ones living is measured by the values added and impacts made. We are becoming lazy and eager to make riches and fame without labour.
Looking at the lives of David and Joseph in the scriptures, they were useful youths. David in his youthful stage was useful to his parents in helping to tend sheep. Through this, he acquired the strength and boldness to confront Goliath and save the whole nation from shame. The skills he acquired as a teenage shepherd boy guided him to being a great king. Joseph special gift of interpretation of dreams brought about economic empowerment for the nation. Even Jesus Christ was a useful youth. He was busy about his fathers business and fulfilled his purpose here on earth at the youthful age of 33years. How about Esther, a fearless lady who saved her people from destruction and Nehemiah the nation builder. All these people among several others were useful youth that impacted or added value to the society.
Lamentation 3:27 says; it is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Success is a gradual process which requires labour and hard work to earn it. That gift in you, that special skill may be what society will need for a time like this. It is better to labour now and enjoy the fruit of your labour later than manipulate and enjoy in your youthful age and gnash your teeth later.
Life itself is all about adding value, be useful in your youthful stage
YOUTHS IN THIS CHANGING WORLD: A PARADIGM SHIFT TO WHAT?
In our country Nigeria, we see two level visions of people: we see those visionary, creative, innovative, inventive and energetic young men and women who have risen to greatness and fame by claiming the margins of their lives in their professions; people who have made progressive leaps in the development and realization of the worthwhile purpose of their lives; people who have a burning desire, an unflinching commitment and a passionate determination to attain their goals and to realize their visions. We see young people of illuminating intelligence and great aspirations whose ideas and money rule the world; people who are consumed by the desire to make a difference; young people who have followed the compass guiding their lives of purpose.
On the other hand, we see a bandwagon of young people who have lost focus, who have no vision for their lives, people who are tossed by the winds of change and the tide of time; young men and women whose lives have become stale and have lost the steam of purpose. We see young boys and girls whose lives have become citadels of immorality, permissiveness and corrupt behaviour. We see a host of young people given to the free reins of drug, crime, prostitution, abnormal sexual behaviour (homosexuality and gay-marriage). We see young men who have no fire burning in their bellies, people with not hope, and no vision for the future, no initiative, no creativity, people who live life as it comes!
While on the first level, we have people who are striving to live a fruitful and successful life, on the second level vision, we have people who have failed to live life fully and fruitfully. And between these two groups of people, there is a great gap, the gap between the achievers, the leaders and the spectators and wanderers. We may ascribe many efficient causes to the reasons why some people are successful and others are not. For some poverty is the cause, for others, poor background, lack of the basic necessities of life, lack of the resources for good education and a host of other social and cultural conditions. These are the reasons they advance for their failures in life. For those who succeed in life, what are their reasons? Many of us will probably say they came from wealthy homes with good background, they were well exposed; they had the best education and so on. In general fashion, people tend to identify successful people with their wealthy family background while they identify people who are not successful in life with a cycle of poverty down their family line. This is a traditional fallacy we have to break out from.
The real gap between the successful people and the not successful people is not wealth or poverty but simply ATTITUDE. We are familiar with the maxim that “Your attitude determines your altitude.” It is the way you see and visualize life that determines how far you can climb on the ladder of success and how long you can sustain yourself on that ladder. No one climbs the ladder of a successful life hands-free. You have to commit yourself, and that commitment is attitude. William James, the famous American pragmatist and psychologist once remarked that “The greatest discovery of my generation is that people can alter their lives by altering their attitude of mind.” Attitude is everything. Between stimulus and response, man has the ability to choose. Within the freedom to choose are those endowments that make us uniquely human. In addition to self-awareness, we have imagination– the ability to create in our minds beyond our present reality. We have conscience– a deep inner awareness of right and wrong, of the principles that govern our behaviour, and a sense of the degree to which our thoughts and actions are in harmony with them. And we have an independentwill– to act based on our self-awareness, free of all other influences.
YOUTHS AND THE TEMPTATION OF FREEDOM: YOUR LIFE IS YOUR DECISION
Definitely, as young people we desire freedom, to live stress-free lives; to enjoy everything, and to have it all. We have forgotten that we cannot eat our cake and have it back. We are therefore created to be youthful and useful in the hands of God. It is not that we will be prayer warriors or spiritual singers or prophets and prophetesses. But we must live a life that changes others. We must be men and women of value. It is even said that we are not living until we are of value to our society, our community, and our world. Many youths are filled with talents but they have decided to use those talents for the devil. Many talents like singing, persuasion, talking, but all these have been used for the devil. The decision is yours to make your life the way it will be. The way you lay your bed shall you lie on it. The values you appreciate and uphold now will definitely shape the future of our country that is why the youths are regarded as leaders of tomorrow; the more reason why the Church has painstakingly taken interest in the youths of the society. It is simple, if the youths are neglected, the future of the church is neglected, if the society fails to train her youth, it is joyfully preparing for a doom that will be both catastrophic and diabolic.
THE THREE LEVELS OF USEFULNESS
Useful as an adjective can be construed as having a practical or beneficial use. Synonyms could be noteful, serviceable, and utilitarian. Usefulness has three tiers
Usefulness to oneself: The bedrock of frustration is when one is useless to himself or herself. There is no communication of usefulness to the environment when one cannot in himself ascertain that he or she is happy and fulfilled. As a matter of fact, everything we do in life tends towards making ourselves happy and useful to ourselves first before any other entity. One is useful to himself when he sees that his achievements have met his desire or in line with his desire- when his decisions lead to his development, growth and advancement. On the other hand, you are useless to yourself when you seek to destroy yourself by your actions and decisions.
Usefulness to the society: The second rung of usefulness is to the society. An individual is never an isolated being. His life is intertwined with the society. He cannot in anyway divulge himself from the community. In order not to be repugnant in the society, he must be useful. And there comes the obligation to be useful in the community. When an individual has a pragmatic beneficial importance in the community then his usefulness can be ascertained.
Usefulness to God: “Remember your God in the days of your youth”. The creator did not put us in the world for nothing. He said we must bear fruit. The third tier and the most important is usefulness to God. Usefulness to God comes in dual dimensions as the summary of the commandments, that is, the love of God and love of neigbours. If we must be useful to God, we must be devoted to him, faithfully serve him, and keep his commandments. We must translate that same love of God to the betterment of the society.
SUCCESS: YOUTHFUL ENERGY COMBINED WITH A SENSE OF USEFULNESS
· Success starts in and from the mind. The key to a successful life is to realize that living is a learned habit, an acquired skill. Learning begins at conception and ends in death. Earl Nightingale says that “You become what you think most of the time.” Have a vision, an imagination of your life’s purpose and begin to work towards it. In order words, you must have a goal, a focus, an aspiration- the purpose driven life, not the life tossed around by every wind of change.
· Success is a product of your constant, continuous and consistent effort. Never take a break from your success journey; do not stop for rest or reward too soon. When you stop at the first signs of success, you become lazy, stagnant and begin to decline. As your efforts produce results and rewards, work even harder. Success and achievement only come through continuous work. The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.
· Be willing to change your life completely. You must make your life congruent, consistent and in harmony with your desired success. Is there anything you feel or think about yourself that will frustrate your success efforts? Low self-esteem, fear of the unknown, etc.
Nine Rules of Success
1. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE
2. DO IT NOW
3. STAND ON YOUR TWO FEET
4. DO NOT FEAR FAILURE
5. DO NOT SELL YOURSELF CHEAPLY
6. DEVELOP A GOAL ORIENTED HABIT
7. VISUALIZE YOUR GOAL AND BELIEVE YOU CAN ATTAIN IT
8. PLAN YOUR WORK AND WORK YOUR PLAN
9. DO NOT QUIT: Winners never quit and quitters never win
SOME SELF-RENEWAL PRINCIPLES IF YOU WANT TO BE USEFUL
Four Dimensions of Renewal
PHYSICAL RENEWAL- The physical dimension involves caring effectively for our physical body- eating the right kind of foods, getting sufficient rest and relaxation, and exercising on a regular basis. Exercise, nutrition, stress management are the key points. A healthy eating habit/dieting regular exercise. “There is no real excellence in all this world which can be separated from right [and healthy] living” remarks David Jordan.MENTAL RENEWAL- Most of our mental development and study discipline comes through formal education. But as soon as we leave school, many of these disciplines fall away. We let our minds grow cobweb. We no longer do any serious reading; we don’t explore any new subject in real depth outside our action fields; we don’t think analytically; we don’t write. Instead we spend our time watching TV. A recent Television Survey shows that people spend as much as 45-50 hours a week watching Television, far more than they spend at work or in activity. TV has many high quality entertainment and educational programs. They can enrich our lives and contribute meaningfully to our purposed and goals, but there are many programs that simply waste our time and minds and many that influence us in negative ways if we let them. Like the body, TV is a good servant but a poor master. We need to know how to effectively manage and maximize our time. Your time, the hours you spend on earth are your most valuable asset. It is unrepeatable and irreplaceable. How you spend your time will determined the level of success you will experience. You waste your time when you spend it in unproductive activity or with unproductive people; and this will manifest in your experience. Organize and execute your life around priorities. Effective time management is putting first things first. Goethe will say that “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” A better and more refined way to look at how to allocate time is to speak in terms of investing your time rather than spending (or wasting) it. To spend gives a sense of finality, something that will never return. When time is spent, it is gone forever, but when you invest your time, there is a return on the investment.
The Four Badges of the Universal Law of Value
1. Do not waste your time on thoughts, people or actions which are not worthy.
2. Do not waste your thought on ideas that are not worthy.
3. Do not waste your energies on activities which are not worthy.
4. Do not waste your money on that which is not worthy.
Continuing education, honing and expanding of the mind is vital mental renewal. It is extremely valuable to train and educate the mind. Training without such education narrows the mind and eventually closes it. That is why it is valuable to read broadly and to expose yourself to great minds. There’s no better way to inform and expand your mind on a regular basis than to get into the habit of reading good literature. “The person who doesn’t read is no better off than the person who cannot read.” Reading, visualizing, planning, writing are the key points here. Develop an active reading habit and a writing culture.
SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL RENEWAL- Our social and emotional lives are tied together and they are demonstrated in our relationship with others. It can be a normal everyday interaction with people. Making people happy, putting a smile on someone’s face, serving others and making them feel important are nice ways of social and emotional renewal. There is a deep security that comes from living interdependently. The meaning and purpose of our lives must be sought outside us. The great cause upon which we devote our lives is something that is higher than we are, something that transcends us. “Happiness is a perfume you cannot put on others without getting some drops on yourself.” Eldon Tanner says that “Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on earth.” Service, empathy, synergy, and intrinsic security are the key words. George Bernard Shaw writes: “This is the true joy in life- being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one….I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die. For the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It’s a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” Let me offer you Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the former American President’s interpretation of happiness. He says: “Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.” The root word for ‘ministry’ is the Latin ministerium and it means service. In the final analysis, happiness consists in serving others. This is what I call the Principle of Creative Cooperation.
Nine Ways to Improve your Relationship with Others
1. Make yourself likeable.
2. Always remember people’s names.
3. Express appreciation for what others do.
4. Be lavish in your praise.
5. Listen intently to other people’s words. “God has given us two ears and one mouth to listen twice as much as we talk.”
6. Let the interest of the other person be the subject of your conversation.
7. Make the other person feel important.
8. Do not criticise destructively.
9. Always believe that there is a way to achieve the best results.
SPIRITUAL RENEWAL- The spiritual dimension is the core, your center, your commitment to a value system. It is a very private area of your life and a supremely important one. It draws upon the sources that inspire and uplift you and tie you to the timeless truths of all humanity. Stephen Covey says of himself: “I find renewal in daily prayerful meditation on the scriptures because they represent my value system. As I read and meditate, I feel renewed, strengthened, centered and recommitted to serve.” Immersion in great literature or great music can provide a similar renewal of the spirit for some people. Value clarification & commitment, study, meditation are key words here. Spiritual renewal takes an investment of time. Religious leader David O. McKay teaches that, “The greatest battles of life are fought out daily in the silent chambers of the soul.” Socrates complements this by saying, “An unexamined life is not worth living.”
CONCLUSIONLike someone said ‘youth is only a journey, a phase that we pass through to fulfill our assignments here on earth’ we will not remain young forever. To be youthful is a medium a chance for us to deliver our mandate on earth by being useful to ourselves, the community and especially to God. Remember God in the days of your youth, it is only when we remember God in our youthful age that he can make us useful in life. No matter what we are chasing in life, the time for our youth is the energy we have, but vanity it will be if we are chasing vanity, because we would have used our youthful age for nothing. I will like to conclude by saying “enjoy your youth, do all that your heart desires, eat all that you want, but remember God will judge all your actions”.
Lord help us to be useful youths!!!!!!!