Humans are the only life form with the innate ability to choose how they want to live. Over and above the mundane needs of everyday life, every rational human being wants to be remembered for something positive, that is, leave a legacy. Based on this compelling orientation, we can group human being broadly into life builders and empire builders. The choice we make between the two derives from our inherent make-up. Man is a spirit; he has a soul and lives in a body. If we assume that the body is just a container to house the man, the determinants of the course a man chooses are his spirit and soul. A man who is predominantly ruled by his soul (feelings, emotions and self-will) would tend toward empire building whereas a man that is yielded to the dictates of his spirit (that part of him he shares with God) would tend toward life building.
There’s really no middle ground between being a life builder or an empire builder. They are mutually exclusive (you have to choose between the two). The reason for their mutual exclusivity is not far-fetched. It’s because both of them place such enormous demand on our resources (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) so much so that we can’t make a meaningful impact if we were to engage in the pursuit of both. A close scriptural analogy to this is what Jesus said during His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter six verse twenty: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” In effect, it’s impossible to be a life builder and an empire builder because what it takes to be either are diametrically opposed.
Life builders don’t necessarily engage in activities that destroy other people’s empires except by default. For instance, when a selfless leader implements policies to curb corruption, such policies would naturally result in loss of means of livelihood for people that build empires through corrupt means. Amongst the empire builders, however, there are some who not only build empires but in the process of building their empires, they also destroy lives. I once watched a documentary on the construction industry in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It was on the plight of some construction workers who were brought in from Asia, mainly India. These workers were laid off after they had completed the jobs they went there to do. The sad part was that they were owed wages for months because the man that brought them ran away without paying them! These victimized workers had no food or rooms to sleep because they had no money. They lived in makeshift tents erected in the open under direct exposure to the elements. Most of the workers said going back home was not an option because of huge debts waiting for them. Apparently, some borrowed money to finance their trip to Dubai hoping to repay from their wages. That’s a classic case of a man (an empire builder) destroying lives.
You can tell whether you’re a life builder or an empire builder by examining how you expend your resources – time, money and skills. Do you readily help people that are in need? Do you feed those that are hungry? Do you clothe those that have no clothes to wear? If your answers to the above questions are not a resounding yes, you’re most likely an empire builder. For Christians, the rules are even stricter. It’s a sin, for instance, if your friend comes to you for help and you tell him to come the next day for something you can help with immediately. Also, the motive for doing even the good thing you do is important. When your motive for doing your good acts is self-seeking, it lacks any rewards ultimately.
The truth is that empire-builders with life destroying traits abound everywhere even within nuclear families! I once had a driver who told me he was pissed off with his mother. He said his mother had enough resources to give him a head start in life through quality education but she was preoccupied with spending money on parties and everything that goes with it. According to him, his mother’s presence in friends’ parties was more important to her than caring for her only son! When he got to know that my own mum was responsible for my education, he was all the more bitter. Ironically, we were about the same age. I had to let him go when he became contemptuous toward his job.
By the grace of God, I am a life-builder. Nothing interests me more than seeing people get better in life. I am particularly thrilled when I’ve been part of someone’s success story. I believe building lives is the heart cry of God and He gives joy to those that choose to be life-builders. Some few years ago, I gave a car to a friend. When I gave the car keys and documents to him he prayed for me. While praying, at a point he said, I would always have the resources to buy any kind of car I desire to ride. I wasn’t excited a bit because I thought: “Riding a car is the least of my priorities.” My friend would have made more impact on me if he had said I would never lack resources to train my children. Had he also prayed that God will give me resources to be able to assist whoever I want to assist, I would have said a resounding amen.
For people that have been empire-builders all their lives, they can still make a change and become life-builders. One of the numerous qualities of man is his ability to make a change whenever he chooses to. Jim Rohn said: “Human beings are the only life form that can alter the course of their lives. A man can live one way for five years, tear up the script and live differently thereafter…” I hope this article has given you some reasons to consider becoming a life-builder. We are admonished in the Scriptures not to lay up our treasures on earth where moths eat them up but in heaven where no moth can destroy them. You lay up treasures in heaven by your kind acts to those God has created in His image and likeness – your fellowman.
The biggest disincentive for being an empire-builder is that an empire gets destroyed eventually. Just imagine all human empires that have come and gone. God set the tone for what will become of all human made empires in the Book of Genesis. Some people got together and decided to build an empire that would touch heaven and as a result make their names great. God, realizing the ability He already put in man to accomplish whatever he sets his mind to do, decided to put an end to their mission. What befell the Empire of Babel (Genesis 11:6-9) will be the lot of every human empire in the long run.
A friend recently sent me a soft copy of President Barrack Obama’s State of the Union address. A portion of his cover message for the Address is contained below:
…How about the chap that is very creative in your neighborhood.
You have been handing him stipends from time to time.
“I didn’t make this world, neither am I his parents,” so you think. “I have done my part, let Charles and the rest of his crew do theirs”.
He doesn’t need much. He only needs direct intervention, which might not even cost you a dime.
Can you just stop acting busybody and sit down to listen to his ideas?
You can point him in the right direction.
You can commit him to success through his desperation to make it.
You can still choose to continue to hand him stipends.
The choice is yours…
Today is the day.
Now is the time.”
Only a life builder will respond to my friend’s clarion call.