In Nigeria, there is a scheme known as the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC for short) which was established on the 22nd May, 1973. This programme was set up in a bid to encourage national unity among the youths while reconstructing and rebuilding the country after the Nigerian Civil war. Those eligible for service are expected to be below the age of thirty and are drafted to a Place of Primary Assignment where it is expected of them to serve the nation diligently and selflessly for one year while contributing positively to their host communities. This is the expectation of this laudable scheme and it is with pride and joy that the corps members attend their “passing out parade” at the end of the service year. For most of the youths who undergo the service year, it is their first work experience, except for those who have had to intern at some point during the course of their study in order to satisfy requirements for their degree.

It appears, according to the law that established this scheme, that much is expected from these corps members. Diligence, commitment, a sense of responsibility and selflessness are just a few. And so, I began to wonder if we ourselves are not called to a place of primary assignment where we are also expected to exhibit these same qualities and more. For the corps members, this first year of work is a relatively new experience. It is a first port of call after years of studying under and learning from others. Now it is time for them to teach, to influence and to affect others. Every one of us has a different place to serve; at home or away from home – a place where we are to teach, to influence and to impact others positively. Do we know where we are expected to serve?  And if we do, how are we serving?

This is not serving as a worker in the church where we go to worship on Sundays. It goes above and beyond a once a week assignment. Though I call it place of primary assignment, I use the word primary as meaning “of chief importance”, because it is not an assignment that is tied to a location. It does not have to be at the corporate level either. It might be a domestic assignment with our family members. It could be an assignment to our partner, a friend, a sister, our elderly parents, an errant child, a rebellious child, an ailing elderly uncle, the priest at our local parish, our domestic staff, our colleagues at work; our assignment could be anywhere. It could be in Lagos traffic or with our auto mechanic for all we care.  How are we handling these assignments? Are we diligent at what we are called to do or do we have to be chased around or messaged to be reminded every time we have to do our assignment? Do we keep giving excuses or are we even looking for ways to get out of the posting to our place of primary assignment and are ready to relinquish all authority and responsibility to others? Are we always impatient with the very people that we have been assigned to care for and to impact positively? This is how we are called to serve:

 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” Matthew 5: 13 – 16 NLT

We all must know our place of primary assignment and carry out our responsibilities with all dedication and commitment. Let it not be the case that our nearest and dearest whom we should affect positively and constructively, only know us to be the terror that they never want to be around while those who are just acquaintances know us to be sweeter than honey. That is not quite accurate!

Let us step right up to see that we are not found wanting at our place of primary assignment!