In the journey to living the Richer Life, one aspect of wealth that is so important is “Relationships”.
I love the saying that goes “your network is your net-worth”. There are some relationships that are worth more than money. There are doors relationships can open that money can never open. For example Nelson Mandela may not have had money to buy houses in different countries like some billionaires however if he decided to travel to Nigeria from South African on a visit, millions of Nigerians will give him their houses to stay in. This is because of the level of influence he has.
You can’t go very far in life without relationships. We were not created to exist alone. Even Father God exists with the Son and The Holy Spirit in the Holy Trinity. Beyond your family there are key vital relationships you must have.
I remember listening to a lady called Francine Norman speak and she said everyone must have a dream team.
She said, “In order to succeed, you must have a dream team. A dream team should consist of a mentor, a confidant, buddy, a coach, a sponsor and a Judas in your life.” I’ll add a few other relationships that are important:
- Mentor: A mentor is someone who has walked the path you would like to walk and you learn from this person. I have so many mentors. Some I haven’t met before like Joyce Meyer, Terri Savelle Foy, John Maxwell, etc. You don’t have to be in close proximity to your mentor. Thank God for technology, you can learn from any location. It is also good to have mentors in close proximity; for example my cousin Fade Aluko is also my spiritual mentor. I also had a parenting mentor when I was in the early stages of being a mother. One day I was praying to God about my parenting style. Some people don’t agree with my parenting style and I needed God to confirm that I was on the right track. I asked for a mentor and He led me to her. When we met up for the first time, we talked for quite a bit. We had so much in common and she encouraged me. She said to me, “Parenting is a lonely walk.” Coincidentally, she too left her job as an investment banker, to work as a University Lecturer. Today, she is the Special Adviser to the President.
- Coach: A coach is someone who believes in you, encourages you and keeps you accountable. I am a life-coach, but even a coach needs a coach, thus I also have a coach. Some of the greatest leaders of our time, even some of the executives of some of the biggest corporations, have coaches. I also have clients who I have coaching relationships with. The wonderful thing about technology is that you don’t have to be in the same location with me to be my coachee.
- Friendships: There’s a difference between a confidant and a buddy, and it is important not to mix the two. A buddy should be kept strictly for that purpose. Francine Norman shared that her husband had a friend he would play video games with for many years. When she asked his name or where he lived, her husband said he didn’t know, that all they did was play video games. A buddy is someone you have fun with. You need a confidant who you can be vulnerable with and share with. In choosing confidants, you have to be very discerning and careful. Sometimes the closest people to you are the ones who have access to hurting you. Pray about the people who are close to you and ask God to reveal every ‘frenemy’. Ask for a spirit of discernment. Do not surround yourself with people who don’t have a vision or who do not exhibit the same values as you. Do not surround yourself with people who envy you and do not want you to excel. This is important, as the friends you have can make or mar your destiny. During the tough years of my marriage, my cousin and my best friend would always encourage me with good advice. They never said anything bad, neither did they encourage me to leave my marriage. They would always make me see my husband’s point of view or God’s point of view. You need people like this around you. People say you shouldn’t share your marital problems and, while some of the reasons might be valid, this has also led to many women going into depression or making the wrong decision. Find one or two people who genuinely love you, and who have faith-based values, to share your problems with. I’ve also shared my problems and weaknesses with one particular friend who gave me wrong advice. In the benefit of hindsight it really wasn’t her fault because she didn’t know better at the time. She was speaking from her own perspective and experiences. In her opinion, she may have been doing it out of love, so she can’t be blamed. I should have known better. It is important to know the roles your friends play so you don’t make someone who is only meant to be a friend for fun purposes, your confidant.
Genette Howard says every woman should have a BFF: Beautiful Faithful Friend. I think this applies to men as well. She also said “True friendship is a gift – priceless gift from God. For women in particular, spending intimate time with friends is not a luxury but a necessity for healthy living.”
I love the saying that goes, “If you’re the smartest person in the class then you are in the wrong class.” Your friends should inspire and motivate you and should either be growing at the same level, or be at higher growth levels than you.
- Sponsor: A sponsor is someone who believes in your dream and would go to great lengths to support your dream, even financially. I have many sponsors, including my husband, who invest their time and money in me.
- Judas: A Judas is someone who you know doesn’t have your best interest at heart but they pretend to. Some will call them ‘haters’ or frenemies.’ Thankfully, God has blessed me with a spirit of discernment so I know the people who are not for me but pretend to be for me. I play along with them without letting them know that I am onto them. I’m careful around them. It is good to have these people around you because they keep me accountable because they remind me that I can’t trust just anybody. God will use every Judas in your life for His glory. Judas was pivotal to helping Jesus fulfil His destiny on earth. Jesus didn’t send Him away. The key thing, though, is that He was aware. Even though Joseph in the Bible’s brothers tried to kill him and sold him to slavery, they were used to send him on the path of destiny. Every relationship in your life has a purpose. That’s being said, it is important to point out that there are some people you would have to love from afar. Pray to God to show you who these people are.
- Prayer Partner: A prayer partner is someone who you meet up with frequently, preferably weekly, to pray together. Whatever you discuss during these sessions should be kept strictly confidential. The times of prayer between my prayer partner and I are some of my most precious and treasured moments. It’s been a time of prayer, celebrations, tears, and joy.
- Mentee: A mentee or mentees are people you guide and teach to walk the path you have walked, or the path you are walking. This is important. Titus 2:4-5 says, “These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.” We must pass on knowledge and share the lessons of our experiences with the younger generation. Jesus spent time with His disciples. I have been blessed with some of the most amazing mentees. I tend to learn more from them than I even teach.
One thing to note is that you have certain relationships for different seasons of your life. While the components of the dream team are there, the people that make up the dream team can change with seasons. You shouldn’t be too emotional about this. There are some people that can’t go with you to certain seasons in your life. While they were perfect in their roles for a certain season, they would be detrimental in the next season. It is like the case of a rocket ship. A rocket ship is connected to a rocket booster when it is still on ground and it needs the booster for take-off. Once it gets to a certain level in the stratosphere it has to disengage from the rocket boosters in order to proceed into space. The orbiter needed the rocket booster for take-off however that same rocket booster could cause a disaster for the orbiter if it wasn’t removed at the right time. The orbiter needs to go on the journey in space on it own.
It is important to understand timing and know the right time to let go of certain relationships that may be detrimental to the next level in your life.
Whilst the listed relationships above are important, I recently also listened to a sermon by Apostle Joshua Selman and He mentioned something very important. Everyone needs destiny helpers. Destiny helpers are people assigned, empowered and ordained by God to help you fufill your destiny. He categorised these destiny helpers into the following
- Divine Connector: A divine connector is someone who may not be able to directly bless you financially however the person has the power to connect you to someone who can. Three stories come to mind as I am writing this. In the story of Joseph in the Bible, his divine connector was the cup bearer. The cup bearer connected him to Pharoah. There are people assigned to connect you to the people who can make a difference in your life moving you from one level to another. The second story is the case of Mephibosheth in the Bible. Ziba was Mephiboseth’s divine connector. He was King Saul’s servant. Ziba connected Mephiboseth to King David. The last story is the case of Naman in the Bible whose domestic staff, a slave girl, connected him to his healing. It takes discernment to identify a destiny connector because they may not come in the obvious ways. Notice it was a servant and a slave girl that connected Mephiboseth and Naman to their blessings. This is why you should honour all men.
- Divine Influencers : This is a person who has the influence to bless you. They have what it takes to bless you. They are gatekeepers. Their voices, track record and credibility can speak for you and lift you overnight. These are men who can endorse you. You should always honour men of influence. In the story of Jesus, it was Joseph of Arimathea , a man of influence who was able to take Jesus body to the tomb. No one else had the influence to be able to collect Jesus body. In the story of Joseph, Pharoah sent for him and lifted him to the next level of his life.
- Gifted people: You need gifted people to implement your God given vision. These are skilled people who can get the job done. If you are an entrepreneur, the people you employ to work with you are your gifted people who would help you untie the knots and implement the blue print for the vision of your business. You need gifted people who love God and love you. Even on the homefront, you need gifted people as your domestic staff, drivers etc. An unskilled driver can end your life prematurely. An efficient househelp can save you so much time so you can be more productive.
- Burden bearers: Burden bearers are people who would pray with you. Who literally carry your matter on their heads. They will not rest until they see the promises of God manifest in your life. They will stay with you through challenges or storms. Ruth is an example of a burden bearer to Naomi. My husband is my burden bearer as he has stayed with me through the storms in life.
You must pray to God to send you these categories of people.
Favour in relationships
It is important to pray for favour with not just God but also men. The Bible says in Luke 2:52 “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
You can’t go far without favour with men even if you have favour with God. All blessings come from God through men to men.
Tips to investing in the right relationships
- Pray for the right relationships
- Ensure you vision and values align
- Build Trust
- Be realistic : The best of man is still a man. Anyone can betray you.
- Emotional Intelligence.
- Focus on quality of relationship and not quantity. One good friend is worth more than a thousand fake friends.
- Spend time with those that you hold dear to you.
- Treat people the way you want to be treated.
- Honour all men.
I remember just before I wrote my first book, The Richer Woman, I did a photo shoot with my child hood friends and when we posted it on social media, it kind of went viral and many platforms reposted it. Many people reached out and said they wished they had these same kind of relationships. My childhood friends meant everything to me most especially because I don’t have sisters. I love them so much and would do anything for them. After I wrote my book many of those relationships did not remain the same. In hindsight I see that this was God’s intention because of the unique purpose He has for me. The military analogy I use below explains it better. I have come to understand that truly, there are different people for different seasons in your life. You must allow these relationships to end when the season is over. The good thing is that we all still talk and occasionally see and support each other at important dates etc. The closeness is not the same but I believe there is no bad blood and I genuinely love them dearly. We are in a good place and have healthy relationships. God is a God of love and He wants us to be at peace with all men.
At the same time I have made some of the most amazing relationships in this journey of purpose. People who are also aggressively pursuing Gods purpose for them. The way God explained it to me is that in the military, there is a reason they all live together in the barracks or they all move together. This way if any of them is attacked their comrades can protect them. If a military officer lives with civilians or is in the company of civilians, he is vulnerable if he is not in company or military officers and He also puts the civilians lives at risk. This is why even in times of war, military officers are grouped into different companys. It is important to be aligned with people that are on the same journey with you in the season that you are in your life’s purpose if not you are putting not just yourself at risk but even the people who are with you.
One of such relationships is the one I have with Esther Longe. I met Esther in 2016. She came to see me because the Lord asked her to. The Lord had asked her to host a free conference at the most expensive conference centres in Nigeria at the time, Eko Hotel and she was afraid of this instruction. I was able to share my experiences of hosting a conference the previous year at one of the most expensive conferences centres. We connected and have become a support system to each other. We are not friends in the sense of we hang out or speak everyday but we have a special relationship that I would call a kingdom covenant relationship. We pray and encourage each other and at different times God has given us prophetic words for each other even prophetic dreams. We also support each other when we have events and memorable family occasions. Watching Esther host her conferences have also encouraged me on my journey. Interestingly we have used the same venues for some of our conferences. It doesn’t mean that it’s been a smooth ride. We’ve had instances where we have hurt each other. The good thing is that we have been able to talk through this instances and even though they have been painful, we have come out on the other side. We understand we genuinely love each other and truly have a heart for each other. She is my covenant sister and I know her heart.
In planning the do it afraid conference my relationships have been so beneficial. I have had people who have sponsored our conference over and over again. There is a particular lady, Kemi of Icey Drinks Cocktails. For the last couple of years she has given 500 free cocktails each time. Woligator Cocktails also used to give 100 free cocktails as well. I’ve had people give their money. Sosmith owned by Abimbola Smith has given us luxury leather gifts for our speakers and hasn’t asked us for a dime. I’ve received huge discounts on expensive venues. Bella Naija an online media platform has given us free publicity on their platform every year. Value Media has given us free publicity on the BRT network every year on 450 buses in Lagos. How do you value all these relationships? How do you value in monetary terms all that I have gained from these relationships. I have had people come through for me over and over again. My relationships are a key component of wealth. I talk extensively about my relationships in my second book “Birthing Purpose”.
Leveraging on relationships
One way to achieve your financial goals is through relationships. Some ways are as follows:
Ajo: AJo or esusu is a local word for community savings. When I first started working in investment banking, a group of colleagues of mine decided to start saving money. We put aside N100,000 each month. Every month a member would be entitled to take home the whole amount. For example if we were 10 then every month someone takes home. AJo helps you save however you don’t earn any interest and also your money loses value in terms of time value of money unless of course you collect the money first but if you do, then you are in debt until everyone else has collected. It only becomes savings if you collect your bulk funds last. That being said Ajo is a good way to start savings
Investment Clubs: You and a group of friends can come together to put money together to take advantage of investment opportunities that you may not have been able to purchase on your own for example real estate. My husband and I’s first foray into real estate was when we bought land with a group of people. The land that was available for sale was quite a few plots and you had to buy all of them together. We only bought one plot but we would not have been able to do so if it wasn’t a group purchase.
Crowd funding: Crowdfunding is one of the fastest ways to raise funds for your business or for a cause. The 2018 do it afraid conference was funded through crowdfunding. The ongoing protests in Nigeria are funded through crowdfunding. Crowd funding is when you raise sums from the public or a large group of people.
Private Placement: this is when you raise money for your business by selling shares or bonds to a pre-selected set of investors and or institutions.
Public Offers: This is when you raise money for your business from the public through the stock exchange. Investors will buy shares in your company on the stock exchange which gives them ownership rights into your company.