In the eponymous short story of Helon Habila’s award winning debut, Waiting for an Angel, a young man goes to a seer to find out when he will die. The seer tries to dissuade him in his quest but the young boy is insistent so the seer tells him that he will see the Angel of Death descend.
Human beings are obsessed with the future; what it holds and how it will turn out. They want to know whether they will be rich and successful or poor and subsistent. It is a quest that never ceases to confound and amuse because as William Onyeabor sang many years ago, ‘no one knows tomorrow.’
But Kolawole Oyeyemi, high flying corporate mandarin and pastor tries to show in Pitfalls to Destiny Fulfilment, that though we may not know how tomorrow will turn out, we can shape it to ensure it turns out well.
In the 100 page book broken into eight chapters, Oyeyemi identifies the pitfalls and explains with copious scriptural allusions and practical life illustrations ways in which to avoid them.The pitfalls are listed as Destructive Faith; Pride, Indiscipline, Insincerity, Ignorance, Impatience, Anger and Fear.
Full as it is of Christian exemplars and quotes this book, published by Trendy Publishing LLC, is not one of your regular Christian books in the sense that it is a book with universal appeal. We all want to get ahead, we all want to fulfil our destinies, we all want to end well and we all want to avoid the mistakes made by those who have gone before us.
Many of these mistakes, those pitfalls that dog many are according to Oyeyemi, mostly products of our own making.
As he argues in the prologue “you are the person that determines whether you succeed or you fail. It is in your hand. You are central to the fulfilment of your own destiny.”
Man is the pilot of the plane of his own destiny, so posits Oyeyemi as he advocates what one might well ascribe the term, Scriptural Determinism, but in taking charge of your life, Oyeyemi advises that you walk with God.
And this is the point at which we see a different strand, one that diverges sharply from William Ernest Henley’s Invictus which proudly proclaims that “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”
Man may be the pilot of his own destiny but there is a co-pilot, God. Oyeyemi is no fan of the letter ‘I’ which might be why we have four of the pitfalls starting with the letter ‘I’. It connotes pride and arrogance as well as a lack of humility.
The author insists that failure, challenges, tragic flaws are usually not caused by external forces but by ‘sins of omission and commission’ on the individual’s part.
By reining in our destructive faith, pride and indiscipline and insincerity and impatience and ignorance and anger and fear we can reverse the course of our destinies.
“However, human beings like to blame other people for their misfortunes. Failures always look for excuses. We always like to externalize the sources or causes of our challenges rather than looking inwards to check where we may have gone wrong or what we may have gotten wrong.
What Oyeyemi then goes ahead to do after stating his intention in the prologue of this new book, is to pinpoint reasons why many lives never rise above average and why high flyers can suddenly nose-dive at their prime. His thesis is simple; there are pitfalls that truncate fulfilment of our destiny and they usually have nothing to do with the devil.
He undertakes detailed exegeses of all the pitfalls from pride and anger to insincerity and ignorance and fear. His copious examples are drawn from the pages of the bible and also from personal experiences as well as stories of the truly successful amongst us who couldn’t sustain their success because of indiscipline. A particularly telling example is of a former high flying footballer on the national team.
The book, Pitfalls to Destiny Fulfilment, is in that sense a cautionary tale, one that works by tracking the examples of those who missed the mark and took the wrong turn and using them as examples for us to not make the same mistakes.
My standout chaper is the one on Fear which the author argues is responsible for denying us an ability to comprehend and appreciate the ‘wholesomeness and awesomeness of God.”
Zig Ziglar described fear as the acrostic – False Evidence Appearing Real. Kolawole Oyeyemi makes us see that Ziglar was spot on by showing us how that is.
This book is a must read for the young and upwardly mobile, the neophyte and the veteran, the Christian and the non-believer and anyone with an aspirational bone in his body.