From the streets to boardrooms. From the newsrooms to dinner conversations.
This week Kenyans spend significant time talking about death. All triggered by the death of Bob Collymore, the C.E.O of East and Central Africa’s biggest company, Safaricom. In 2018, Safaricom’s net profit hit Sh55.3 billion, making it the most profitable company in the region. Bob battled with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a rare form of blood cancer since 2017.
The newspapers set the pace with headlines and main features solely about Bob Collymore. President Uhuru Kenyatta led dignitaries and other leaders to share their sadness and console with the family and the country, “ As a country, we’ve lost a distinguished corporate leader whose contribution to our national well-being will be missed”. The social media timelines have been outpouring with messages of condolences.
If there was a time to talk about death to Kenyans, it is now.
Bob was described by many as a kind and a down-to-earth man. Bob was always bob, many who interacted with Him said of Him; hinting He was Himself and did not carry around the CEO’s mighty look and feel like most do. He was seen in public vehicles sharing Airtime with commuters. He was regularly seen downtown and the innermost parts of Nairobi’s main slums. He was seen in Jazz concerts deep among the crowds, not VIP sessions. He was seen dancing on comedy shows. Though a Guyanese-born and British citizen, Bob was described as being more Kenyan than most Kenyans. Mark you, he lived in Kenya for slightly less than a decade. Though a holder of one of the most powerful offices in the country, Bob found a way of relating with different Kenyans from different walks of life at their level. Many described Him as a good man.
A scroll down my timeline and a tweet pops up. A tweet which I thought should not go unnoticed. A tweet by Huston Malande that said,
“My heart is heavy, not just because Bob Collymore has passed on, but because no matter how kind he was, I don’t know where he’s passed on to. The only sinless one who ever lived is Jesus. Humbly believe that he died for your sins, and you will gain more than riches: your soul.”
Such truths ought not pass us just like that. They ought to be pondered upon and ask ourselves this important question while we still have this breathe.
If I was to drop dead right now, where would I pass on to?
Here are a few reminders that we ought to hold fast and dearly when we think of answering the above question. These reminders need to be at the top of our minds if not fingertips.
“The purpose for our existence does not change at death. For the Christian, eternal life has already begun and will not be interrupted by death or judgment.” John Piper.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” John 5:24
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”Philippians 3:20–21
The face of death has a way of simplifying life, making the most important things most important and the not-important things less important. In an increasingly busy and loud life, we get caught up so easily. We get into a rat-race without notice. The not-important things become important and the important things becomes not-important.
At times like this, as Christians, it is important to ask ourselves if we have the right standing with our confirmed appointment, death. At times like this, it is important to simplify our lives with a clearer view of what is important to us in this life.
We should not wait for mountains to quake for us to shake.
With absolute certainty. Death is coming. To all of us. It is just a matter of when. If Christ does not return. So how should we live before then?
Before Bob’s demise, one of the fast growing conversations was about His successor. In an interview was asked, “What would you expect of your successor?” In His response He said “Safaricom is more than the numbers you’ve seen (which were very impressive) but it is about purpose. I would want to see a company that continues to grow on purpose and not profits”. In the tributes, many praised Bob for the leadership style of trying build a purpose-focused organisation and not just profits.
That statement should push us as Christians to ask ourselves, what does it mean to work for purpose?
More so, at a time we’re seeing a clear and strong “corporate culture” which pushes employees to work overtime and on overdrive to “break the ceiling” and “climb the corporate ladder” and enable their companies make “super profits”. But, many a time, at the expense of their health, mental health is a growing pain on these streets. At the expense of important relationships. Life work balance is an ever increasing headache to many professionals. Relationships are hurting and families are breaking apart. It is not business as usual.
In the recent Gospel At Work conference at EBC Nairobi the questions about why do we work? Who do we work for? were comprehensively discussed. The responses shared are super useful and beneficial to answer the question, what does it mean to work for purpose?
Here are the responses.
WHO you work for is more important than WHAT you do. For Christians, our boss is the Lord (Colossians 3:22–24) Work was cursed at the Fall. Remembering that will help us not put too much hope in it to fulfill us.
We should be careful NOT to make our work an IDOL (the thing we worship, the thing that defines who we are), or two to being IDLE at work (not being fruitful and productive at work or even enjoying it).
Work is not a course. Work is a blessing. God promises to bless the work of our hands. We should work hard. We should work Smart. And Trust God for outcomes (favorable or not favorable). We should seek excellence but excellence don’t mean perfection. Our mark of success should be if we are truly good and faithful servant at work.
This week as we think about death. We should be reminded to ask ourselves these two important questions
Am I ready to meet my creator?
It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment. Hebrews 9:27
God is our holy creator. We are all sinners. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. We should respond to these truths with repentance from sin and faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
As I wait for THAT day am I working for the greater purpose?
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is — Ephesians 5:15–17.
…I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace — Acts 20:24