I had mulled over the idea of running for the leadership of the student body for a while before I finally threw myself into the ring. I was in a dilemma because of several factors.

While I noticed student needs that needed to be filled through the student government, I didn’t know if I really wanted to throw myself in the pool of politics. I was the incumbent chairperson of the Christian Fellowship therefore, a part of me felt like I needed maintain my  focus on  Christian leadership.

In fact, my opponents argued that my influence should have been confined strictly to the pulpit. They reminded me that Jesus wasn’t a politician. However, deep within my heart, I felt like I needed to go in and contribute to students’ welfare. We had been such fierce competitors with my opponent and  I feared that the elections were going to degenerate to personality wars and settling of scores. This was going to eventually compromise the bigger agenda of service delivery to students.

Due to all these battles, I was fighting in my heart, I decided to go to the Lord in prayer. During a conference called Ezra, I invited a few confidants within the leadership of the Christian fellowship. These were people I trusted and was certain that they had my back. We went to the ‘upper room’ (literally) to pray. I shared with them my vision, desires but also worries and concerns. They encouraged me to go for the top seat. They assured me that the university would do well with my leadership style. I had this discussion in January while the elections were slated to take place in April.

Eventually, I got the conviction to vie and that very day  I painfully learnt the first lesson in leadership; trust no one. Fast-forward to 4 months later, I submited my election forms to the electoral commission. The engine was oiled and the train was set to leave the station. We are excited because we knew that victory belonged to us.

We also decided to run a logical, agenda driven campaign. In short, we vowed to do clean politics (mistake number 2).

When the campaign started, it dawned on me that a section of the people I had banked on left me high and dry. I was dropped like a hot potato. Some of them who urged me to vie suddenly developed cold feet. I lost the election by the closest margin (12 votes) in the history of that University. The pain I felt wasn’t so much that I lost the elections, but it was because the people I had trusted ran away when the battle was fiercest and they never bothered to give any notice.

When I lost, some of these brothers and sisters in Christ were the ones who were the first to congratulate my opponent through Facebook. And it stung even more.

This was the first time that I tasted the bitter cup of betrayal in a grand scale. Why did some of them cheer me on to a journey they weren’t going to accompany me till the end? What motivated some of them to drop me along the way? These are the questions that hurt more

Months later after the painful ordeal, I managed to glean some lessons from it. Here they are:

Manage your expectations

In life, no one owes you anything. Not loyalty, not support, not love and certainly not a success. Only you owe yourself a chance to make your dreams a reality. Only you know yourself well so you can go ahead and trust yourself. But even that stand isn’t advisable because we are erratic beings sometimes controlled by emotions that are fickle. Question everything. Be sceptical about everything until you can tangibly touch them in your hands.

Above all, I want to beseech you by the mercies of our Lord Jesus Christ, trust no one. As scriptures say, cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD.

If I had managed my expectations by being more realistic to know that nobody owes me anything; I would have minimised the pain of feeling betrayed. Because the pain I felt was so intense that if it could have been harnessed and put in jars, they would flow like a river for a few days.

Manage your expectations in ministry. Manage your expectations of people in your workplace, business, marriage etc. just know that those who have flesh and blood might one day turn against you. Don’t hold it against them because they are human just like you.


Believers aren’t perfect

I used to hold my fellow Christians on a higher pedestal than others. Probably higher than I should have because Christians are also human beings who err. They have flesh and blood flowing in their veins. I’m one of them and I am also greatly flawed. All of us need patience. We shouldn’t be quick to judge each other when we fall.

When I gave my life to Christ in 2007, I understood that I had left a jungle to come to a kingdom where civility and love were the rules of the day. I expected a place of acceptance, love, joy and all the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Yet I should have known that no single person is perfect. We are all a fallen people battling our personal wars and sometimes losing. In the church, you have snitches just like in the world. In the church, there are those who battle gossip, bitterness, resentment, jealousy and all the negative traits that are found in the world.

The church is essentially a ward for sick people, not a museum of righteousness. That doesn’t mean that it is hopelessly irredeemable. Jesus died for it, that’s how much He loves it. But we should never expect perfection from the church.

Remember who betrayed Jesus? If he had Judas amongst the 12 disciples, how much more Iscariots will be there in a group of say 1000?


Help will come just trust God

Sometimes we want to be perfectly in control of situations that we end up not trusting God. Yet he reminds us to walk by faith and not by sight. I’m not saying we don’t plan. Failure to plan is planning to fail, but if you have faith in God, let him carry you through so that you don’t put your trust in your plan.

While I fixated my eyes and banked my campaign hopes on a few people within the Christian fellowship community, I overlooked a greater multitude who were willing to come to my rescue. And they did. Kiarie John (KJ) poured himself out to rescue me. Maina Chege went out of his way to hold my hand and offer the much-needed support. Tony Taiti too went out of his way to support me. Nelly, Martha, Eunice and many worked tirelessly to support my candidature. Were it not for them, I would have lost miserably. While putting together a team, I only focused on my immediate circle. Little did I know that God wanted to teach me a lesson in thinking big and trusting Him.

I have never seen strangers hold me down like they did. I didn’t pay them anything. But they only saw the potential that was within me and they held my hands.

In life, strangers might help you more than your friends or even family members. Therefore be kind to people. Treat everyone with respect.


Forgive and learn from the experience

Yes, it is painful. I have been in that dark hole where the only thing you want is revenge. I’ve been in that dark hole where I was feeling pained so much that I looked for immoral ways to feel better. But I want to urge you that if you don’t forgive or move on, you might not glean any lesson from the ordeal. You are likely to go through the same cycle again. But forgiving and learning from it gives you a reprieve and a new sight from moving on.

Things might not be the same between the people who hurt you but letting them go will give you peace. Don’t give them a rent free space in your heart.


For every closed door, ten more are open

You don’t have to fix your eyes on the closed door. Because God has designed life in such a way that you must lose to gain. For every door that is banged in your face or that refuses to open, there are 10 more that if you adjusted your attitude, you would see them.

Don’t stay too long at the closed door. It hurts but you have to dust yourself and move one. Grab lessons from the pain because the wounds afflicted in war strengthen more than anything else.

After the loss, God blessed me through my company by giving me great clients. He also opened up the door of writing that brought in a lot of success stories. I’ve met CS’s, PS’s, senior people in the Government, influencers etc.

Through writing, God has opened international doors.

But the greatest gift that writing has given me is the power to impact people’s lives. I have thousands of readers who flock my website to read my work. While I was so focused on impacting lives in a specific university, God had bigger plans for me. That I would be a voice of reason in Kenya.

The greatest lesson I learnt was that unless I was willing to master the strength to lose sight of the shore, I wasn’t going to discover new oceans.


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Author: Dannish Odongo

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