“Alein ma zlit akulo yorgo colol lâ mi te vut agu ma ned’a.” (Proverbe Marba/Tchad)

  » The early bird eats ripe fruit. » (A Marba Proverb / Chad )

 Meaning: The one who wakes up early reaps happiness.

 (Dr. Emmanuel BECHE collected this proverb on behalf of the Francophone University of International Development)

Biblical Parallel

 In primary school, I was part of the last generation of schoolchildren who had the pleasure of wielding a fountain pen, inkwell and blotter. This is a particularly delicate exercise. I always remember unavoidable mishaps and the promptness with which I grabbed the blotter to limit the damage. I do not forget the joy with which I welcomed each new page of the notebook. It gave me the opportunity to move a little closer to excellence in writing.

 Early this year, you may have had the same feeling. The question nagging your mind may be: What can I do to be more successful this year? Already, the days that passed do not seem to give the promise of January 1 with a lot of good resolutions and dreams. The answer to this legitimate concern appears to be in the cultural wealth of the Marba people (in Chad) who had the privilege to offer humanity this fascinating proverb: ‘The bird who gets up early eat ripe fruit.’

In the natural environment of the Marba, as it is the case throughout the Sahelian zone, wild fruit trees are becoming increasingly rare due to alarmingly rapid desertification. Thus we can understand the eagerness with which the birds flock to the ripe fruits when they are available. The result is clear: some of them get up early to take a lion share and the others must be content with crumbs or unripe fruit. If this is sad, how much more is it when humans who act like the latter group of birds? It is to each of us that the Marba cater in reminding us that happiness accompanies those who get up early. Better yet, they invite us to discover the double secret of disciple and diligence. These are two key concepts encapsulated in the proverb.

This brings to mind one very revealing biblical text.  « A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man (Proverbs 6: 10 -11, NIV).” These words are repeated verbatim in Proverbs 24:33 -34. Proverbs 20:13 conveys the same idea but in slightly different terms while introducing a positive complement:  » Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare. (NIV)”. Many other biblical texts communicate similar ideas, reflecting the importance that our Creator gives them.

 Even though a superficial reading of these texts seems to emphasize diligence, it is discipline that is the true essence of the message. Discipline is necessary to go to bed early to get up early even when games, futile talks with false friends, some programs on television or on the Internet, and many other distractions seem catchy or compelling. Discipline is essential when sleep seems so sweet you do not want to leave the bed at all despite the deafening noise of the alarm clock or the insistence of the spouse for those who are married. Discipline is a bitter but effective pill. A Chinese proverb declares: « Happiness is always after strenuous effort. »

 If we want to make a difference this year and in the future, let us learn to use both keys: discipline and diligence. Even so, one question remains: How does one successfully overcome bad habits imposing themselves like impassable mountains in view and make good use of these keys of success? Brian Tracey, in his excellent book The Power of Discipline (2008: 15 -19 ) recommends a seven-step approach:

  1. First, decide exactly what you want
  2. Write down your goal
  3. Set a deadline for achieving it
  4. Make an exhaustive list of everything that can help you achieve your goal
  5. Organize the list by priority and sequence
  6. Take action on your plan immediately
  7. Do something every day that moves you in the direction of your major goal

 Furthermore, I propose three additional steps without which the foregoing may collapse like a house of cards:

  1. Start each day with meditation on a biblical text and prayer time because it is only God who gives true success. The secret of true happiness is found only in Him. Pray throughout the day.
  2. Maintain a good relationship with your Lord and lead a life of sanctification so that nothing hinders your prayers. If you happen to sin, ask for forgiveness and God’s aid, then continue your walk with the Lord with a pure conscience.
  3. Share your goal with two serious friends and ask them to pray for you and challenge you every time you are tempted to deviate from your goal(s)

 Finally, Robert Kiyosaki said: « Do not sacrifice what you want most for what you want now. » Keep your eyes on the Lord and focus on the major goal you want to achieve in this season of your life. Escape the pitfalls of distractions and fleeting pleasures that keep you from getting up early to eat the ripe fruit of life. I hope that you will consider these tips throughout this New Year. I am sure if you do, you will notice the difference starting today. And if it produces tangible results in your life, please let me know. May God grant us the grace to always be disciplined and diligent!

© Copyright by Moussa Bongoyok, 2014.


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