I don’t know about you, but quite a few times in my life I had to ask this question – I really don’t know how I got into this mess? There are situations in life that are so overwhelming, inconvenient and slows us down in our journey of life. Some of these difficult situations can be occasioned by our own wrongful decisions, whilst others were unforeseen and unavoidable. It can elicit a feeling of regret, despondency, helplessness and even intense guilt.

Life can be a messy business – the unexpected death of a loved one, painful break-up in a relationship, your teenage daughter becoming pregnant in her matric year, your spouse becoming addicted to gambling or pornography, being diagnosed with a dreaded disease, sudden retrenchment at your job, an enterprise that you’ve built up so hard over so many years unexpectedly being placed under business rescue, not forgetting the disruptive and destructive effects of the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic…. Does it sounds familiar?

The other day I read an illustration by Os Hillman that drives this point home so aptly. He stated that when a major road construction project takes place in a crowded city street, it appears to be absolute chaos. It is inconvenient, disruptive and tends to get us irritated because it appears we are moving much slower than we like. It is ugly and so much of what we see is torn up. But when we look at that same area a few months or years later, we see why the construction was necessary. It actually made life so much better for those who would use the road. 

We will not always understand why we find ourselves in certain messy situations and its impact on our journey moving forward. You are not defined by your current reality. You are an Olympic champion whose path to the winner’s podium is a long, challenging and life-changing one. Your life experience and mine is the foundation on which authentic leadership is built.


One of my most inspiring characters is Abraham Lincoln. In 1831 – he lost his job; 1832 was defeated in a run for Illinois State Legislature; business liquidated in 1833; wife died in 1835; suffered a nervous breakdown in 1836; defeated in a run for the Illinois Speaker in 1838; defeated in a run for the United States Congress in 1843; defeated in a run for the United States Senate in 1854; defeated in a run for the Vice-President of the United States in 1856 ….. In 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected as the President of the United States of America. What a remarkable journey of courage, tenacity and endurance! Up till today, his legacy as President of the most influential nation on the planet, is still honored.  He was not defined by his failures and setbacks but relentlessly pursued his dream. His journey was indeed a messy yet life-changing one.

There is strength in adversity. Adversity builds character. Just like with our muscles, if it is not exercised regularly, it will simply lose its tone and wastes away. As a believer, one needs to appreciate that sometimes God will allow these challenges and obstacles on our journey of life, in order to build our character. God is more interested in our character than our comfort. 


When you find yourself in a messy situation, keep the momentum. Even when you are uncertain of the outcome, move forward with courage. Do not get stuck in the traffic just because you are irritated by the inconvenience of the road construction. During these times, you might have to implement drastic changes. How uncomfortable or unpopular the changes might be, be bold to take it on.

Some of the messy situations in life can also bring about a paradigm shift in our lives. Bill Donahue describes it as the ABC of Deep Personal Change.

  • Admit you are powerless against the current onslaught.
  • Believe that a Power greater than yourself can deliver and restore you.
  • Conform your will to God’s by turning your life and will over to Him.

Do not stop dreaming. You have been endowed with tremendous creative ability, therefore see beyond your current reality. Our Creator does not give us all the answers and does not necessarily jump to our timeline. Patience will be key in navigating through these messy moments. 

There is meaning to the mess. It is for this reason that Paul whose life was also characterized by many setbacks, trials and tribulations could boldly proclaim in Romans 8 : 28 “ And we know that in all things, God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”  NB. all thingsI have seen in my own life on countless occasions how He turned my mess into a message. Informed by all these life experiences, I can now engage more authentically with those finding themselves in a rough patch. It is really humbling to realize that whatever I have overcome and accomplished, is just by His grace.

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