Today we were working with a friend and ministry leader in Africa, his name is Mike Lilema. He is an exceptional husband, father of three, pastor, and visionary leader. I appreciate his passion for youth ministry and his compassionate way of living.

I am encouraged every day as I see leaders like him living out a call to be the Church all over the world.

He told us that his late father used to gather he and his friends around the fire, as is the custom in many villages like his, and spend time sorting through important life lessons. The elders would ask questions and paint pictures with words. As the fire blazed they would share their time and collective wisdom. Stories would be told and shared so they would live on in the minds of the children (I love that–and feel like we should do more of that). But now, with technology, Mike feels it’s important to share these life lessons through his Facebook account. I’m so glad he feels this way. Because all of us are still kids in a way, growing up with the need for tribes to tell us stories about how life should be or could be someday.

He recently shared a story that made so much sense to me. After I was done reading it, I wrote this in my journal.

BE MORE LIKE THE TIGER AND LESS LIKE THE SQUIRREL.

(Mike didn’t mention a squirrel. But I feel like it was the best opposite animal.)

The story Mike painted sounded like this:

The slow movement of a tiger is not a mistake, but is calculated accuracy.

Some people may not be at your speed in life.

That is ok.

Looking back or looking around only distracts you from your target and you could miss it. (your goal, your dream, your calling, your mission).

You are not competing against each other, but with yourself.
It’s not a matter of getting things more quickly, it how accurately you calculate your moves.

This is is the way of a leader.

Not distracted by the periphery.

But focused on the mission.

I know so many teenagers who need to hear this story told.

Comparison only keeps us from becoming our truest selves.

I know so many adults who need to repeat this story to others.

We’re better together, not better in uniformity.

Many of us are afraid of being more like tigers because we know that it might mean getting serious about our dreams.

We’d rather run around collecting nuts and dodging into traffic.

You can be more tiger and less squirrel.

You can tell stories. Keep telling each other and yourself that the eye of the tiger is a real thing (not just a Katy Perry or Survivor lyric) that we can have when we slowly calculate our steps in order to hit the target, achieve the dream, or find the answer.

Like Mike’s father’s taught him, let’s continue to teach each other. It’s not a matter of getting things more quickly, it how accurately you calculate your moves.

  • What moves do you need to calculate today?
  • What kinds of comparisons turn your head and hold you back?
  • Why do you let them?
I want to thank Mike, his father, the district of Chavuma, and the village of Kaloombo for sharing their lives around fires and now on the internet. We dance with you and are leaning into these stories with strength.

Stock Photo: Creative Commons

Jessica Stam

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