Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Audits and Examinations

When I was a child there were many things I wanted to be upon growing up. I dreamt of being a pilot [basically every child’s dream] or being an electronics engineer. I really marvelled at the wiring of our old Sanyo radio and thought that one day I could understand how all those wires worked to give us the sound I could hear. Not once would I sit down and try to join pieces of wire trying to make something useful but it was all boyish curiosity. Perhaps this love of Physics is what led my form two self to ‘invent’ a homemade weapon – a rudimentary gun for Science Congress Physics Theory (Talks) in 1996. Needless to say my ‘project’ did not go beyond the zonals (local school grouping) as it involved ingredients such as milk and matchsticks! I however carried on my love affair with Physics and really enjoyed deducing formulas for this and that. At form four, my project for Science Congress was an optical disc [CD] which surprisingly went up to national level. I am still surprised that I did not end up in anything close.

But I also loved the ministry. I quite admired our local vicar who drove a small Datsun to our home to lobby my father on PCC issues. He seemed very smart all the time and had such a sense of composure about him. I liked it that he ended his visit with us being rounded up to listen to a short a sermon and then he would pray for us. Or maybe it was the girls – those ‘senior’ youth girls all looked amazing. They wore high heels and went for ‘missions’. They sang deeply moving ‘hymn-spirituals’ that gave me goose bumps and really got everyone into that pensive mood where people ‘get saved’. Whatever it was, church circles were admirable to me. 

But there were ‘people’ that I did not want to become. A doctor was among those I was certain I could not be. The ‘doctor’ who modelled this was actually an assistant at our local health centre. We shall call her Wacera. She was a no nonsense lady who made your visit to the GoK facility a horrifying experience. Wacera was of more than average height, spoke loudly in a deep baritone voice and had a stern face to go with it. She wore gumboots and a blue dress and had no time for young boys who were scared of jabs. Perhaps it was the way she announced the next patient or the way she handled young mothers who had missed a visit or two, but she scared the wit out of me every time. I later learnt she was not actually a nurse as such but an assistant in the facility to help with cleaning, dressing and ‘boiling syringes’. She however ruled the place with airs of a doctor and to me she symbolised what doctors were and I knew I could not be one. 

The other person I could not become was an auditor the reason for that is clear – they did not exist in my childhood. I had never heard of such a strange profession name until after high school at least. I had heard of editors since I loved looking through the Daily Nation but auditors? What on earth did they do? I still don’t know their exact work but I have an intelligent guess. In high school there was such pressure for us to take accounting after Form four as that would assure us of jobs but I think I am more of a contrarian thinker, the more the people did it and the pressure piled, the more I grew cold towards the field. At Uni however, I decided to have a go at CPS in order to be a professional manager one day. After all I was doing business studies and that involved quite a bit of accounting. My experience was however not particularly great with the double entry concept or the endless graphs in Economics 101. Case law was not as easy to remember as I had imagined. All I remember is that I did the examination for CPS 1 in 2003. Quite possibly I passed but I don’t know – the examination helped to clarify that this was not for me. I might one day go for the results at KASNEB towers, though they might not know what I am talking about. What was my student number again?

As the years have gone by, I have come to appreciate the value of those two professions. Although I could not become a doctor or an auditor the two are crucial to the health of a person or organisation. After all, in own field of teaching – I was bound to be an examiner, making sure that my students understand their math and business studies. They did not love it (who does btw?) but it was crucial for their progress in school. They laboured to remember the concepts and did all they can to pass the mark and it was most rewarding when they did. I guess that is how life is – full of examinations and audits. Left to ourselves, we would easily drift off the standards but when we know there is an examination or audit, we pull up our socks.
So, national examinations start this week. Our boys have theirs too. At the office, we have an audit going on from today. I now look at auditors and doctors as helpers not as killjoys who jumped at every opportunity to ruin my day. I know they both ask uncomfortable questions and demand to see ‘things’ we’d rather they did not. Doctors examinations can be particularly intrusive (especially as we get older) but that is what it takes to keep us healthy and strong. Back in the day I could not see how a jab on the backside could be good for me but now I know they mean well and in the end it serves a good purpose to be examined and given a report. 

I submit to us that even our discipleship needs audit from time to time. It may be self-evaluation, peer examination of sorts or perhaps one done by those a little ahead of us in the walk with the Lord. We all need it for our spiritual health. Our apprenticeship also needs to be checked from time to time to see whether we are walking on the straight and narrow path of the ideals and practices that we profess. Our lifestyle needs audit and so does our leadership practices, our management style, our accounts and just about everything really.  We all need someone else to have a little look into our inner selves. 

But we must not be scared of audits, examinations and assessments of whatever nature. They make us not break us.