Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Importance of Individual Resource Management

Poverty is bad resource management


This study is about the importance of individual resource management.
Collective resource management, as in a corporate office, is not discussed here.
Every individual has resources sufficient for reaching the summit of success.
It is our choice to manage the resources well and succeed or neglect and fail.

For illustrating my argument I am using reference from history as cited in the Bible, a parable of Jesus and the famous quote about the African gazelle and the lion.

The study is secular and no theological argument is intended.

No crown is for ever

Proverbs 27. 23, 24 (The Bible) – “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.”

Resource is real wealth. Resources itself do not offer any service. Managing the resources create wealth. A hidden or unutilized resource is not wealth.

Petroleum is a natural resource. A country can keep it under earth without digging it. The country may claim to reserve the natural resource for future. But the hidden or unused petroleum is not a managed resource. It does not create wealth. Hence no transfer is done.

For more explication, let me introduce a historical reference made in the Bible.

The secret behind the wealth of Tyre

Isaiah 23: 1- 10 (The Bible)
1 The Burden of Tyre. Howl, ye ships of Tarshish, For it hath been destroyed, Without house, without entrance, From the land of Chittim it was revealed to them.
 2 Be silent, ye inhabitants of the isle, Trader of Zidon, passing the sea, they filled thee.
 3 And in many waters is the seed of Sihor, The harvest of the brook is her increase, And she is a mart of nations.
 4 Be ashamed, O Zidon; for the sea spake, The strength of the sea, saying: `I have not been pained, nor have I brought forth, Nor have I nourished young men, nor brought up virgins.'
 5 As at the report of Egypt they are pained, So at the report of Tyre.
 6 Pass over to Tarshish, howl, ye inhabitants of the isle,
 7 Is this your exulting one? From the days of old is her antiquity, Carry her do her own feet afar off to sojourn.
 8 Who hath counselled this against Tyre, The crowning one, whose traders are princes, Her merchants the honoured of earth?'
 9 Jehovah of Hosts hath counselled it, To pollute the excellency of all beauty, To make light all the honoured of earth.
 10 Pass through thy land as a brook, Daughter of Tarshish, there is no more a girdle.

(1200 BC–539 BC)

An ancient Middle East civilization. Phoenicia was composed of independent city-states which lay along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea stretching through what are now Syria, Lebanon and northern Israel. Each city-state was a politically independent unit. The island city of Tyre and the city of Sidon were the most powerful states in Phoenicia with Gebal/Byblos and Baalbek as the most important spiritual/religious centers. The Phoenicians were notable merchants, traders, and colonizers of the Mediterranean region in the 1st millennium BC. They traded wood, cloth, dyes, embroideries, wine, and decorative objects. Ivory and wood carving became their specialties. The work of Phoenician goldsmiths and metalsmiths was well known.


The city of Sidon (modern Sidonia, Lebanon) was initially the most prosperous but steadily lost ground to her sister city of Tyre. Sidon was a seaport, southwestern Lebanon. It was a principal city of Phoenicia from the 2nd millennium BC and a parent city of Tyre. The merchants of Zidon, who traded at sea, had at first replenished her. But the daughter (Tyre) had outgrown the mother, and become much more considerable.

Tyre in Hebrew is Tsur,  meaning "Rock." Isaiah 23: 2 is about the island Tyre or Tsur. It was a major Phoenician port from 2000 BC through Roman times. Tyre was a city on the coast of Syria. Later it was noted for its silken garments and Tyrian purple dye.
Tyre was probably founded as a colony of Sidon.
Tyre was a celebrated emporium of trade.  Tyre, an ancient wealthy city, situated upon the sea, and for many ages one of the most celebrated cities for trade and merchandise in those parts of the world. It was built two thousand seven hundred and sixty years before Christ. There were two cities of this name; one on the continent; and the other lay on a rocky island about a half a mile from the coast of the Mediterranean.
The city on the island was about four miles in circumference. Old Tyre resisted Nebuchadnezzar for thirteen years. Then the inhabitants carried, so to speak, the city to the fore mentioned island. In 573 BC Nebuchadnezzar captured the old Tyre to find it desolate.

This new city held out against Alexander the Great for seven months; who, in order to take it, was obliged to fill up the channel which separated it from the main land. In A.D. 1289 it was totally destroyed by the sultan of Egypt; and now contains only a few huts, in which about fifty or sixty wretched families exist.

Tyre and Egypt
Trading cities maintain their grandeur, not by the conquest of their neighbours, but by commerce with them.

Egypt had helped very much to raise her. Sihor was the river of Egypt: by that river, and the ocean into which it ran, the Egyptians traded with Tyre. The harvest of that river was her revenue. They gained by goods exported and imported. Sometimes the harvest of the river proves better revenue than the harvest of the land. Or it may be meant of all the products of the Egyptian soil, which the men of Tyre traded in, and which were the harvest of the river Nile, made Tyre richer than Egypt.
She had become the mart of the nations, the great emporium of that part of the world. Every known nation went there, especially at certain times of the year, when there was a general rendezvous of merchants. Tyre became rich and great by industry, though she had no other ploughs going than those that plough the waters.
She was a joyous city, noted for mirth and jollity. Those that were so disposed might find there all manner of sports and diversions, all the delights of the sons and daughters of men, balls, and plays, and operas, and everything of that kind that a man had a fancy to.
Her antiquity likewise was of ancient days, and she was proud of that, and that helped to make her secure; as if because she had been a city time out of mind, and her antiquity had been of ancient days, therefore she must continue a city time without end, and her continuance must be to the days of eternity.
She was a crowning city, that crowned herself. Such were the power and pomp of her magistrates that they crowned those who had dependence on her and dealings with her. Her merchants were princes, and lived like princes for the ease. Her traffickers, whatever country they go to, are the honourable of the earth, who are respected by all.

How slightly soever some now speak of tradesmen, it seems formerly, and among the wisest nations, there were merchants, and traders, and men of business, that were the honourable of the earth.


The Greek historian Herodotus wrote that "Egypt was the gift of the Nile". An unending source of sustenance, it provided a crucial role in the development of Egyptian civilization.Silt deposits from the Nile made the surrounding land fertile because the river overflowed its banks annually. The Ancient Egyptians cultivated and traded wheat, flax, papyrus and other crops around the Nile. Wheat was a crucial crop in the famine-plagued Middle East.
This trading system secured Egypt's diplomatic relationships with other countries, and contributed to economic stability. Far-reaching trade has been carried on along the Nile since ancient times.
The River Nile is the longest in the world, stretching for 4,187 miles. The Nile flows from south to north. It is formed by three major tributaries: the White Nile, the Blue Nile and the Atbara. The White Nile rises in the Great Lakes region of central Africa.The Atbara River, roughly halfway to the sea, which originates in Ethiopia north of Lake Tana. The Blue Nile, however, is the source of most of the water and silt. The Blue Nile has its source in the highlands of the African country of Ethiopia, by Lake Tana. The runoff from spring rain and melting snow caused the annual summer flood of the Nile that the Egyptians depended on for water to irrigate their crops, and deposit fertile top soil. Ninety percent of the water and ninety-six percent of the transported sediment carried by the Nile originates in Ethiopia, with fifty-nine percent of the water from the Blue Nile
The erosion and transportation of silt only occurs during the Ethiopian rainy season in the summer


By African standards, Ethiopia is a potentially wealthy country. It has fertile soil and good rainfall over large regions. Farmers produce a variety of grains, including wheat, corn, and millet.
Coffee also grows well on southern slopes. Herders can raise cattle, sheep, and goats in nearly all parts of the country. Additionally, Ethiopia possesses several valuable minerals, including gold and platinum.
Ethiopia's resources have enabled the country to maintain contacts with the outside world for centuries. Since ancient times, Ethiopian traders exchanged gold, ivory, musk, and wild animal skins for salt and luxury goods, such as silk and velvet.
Despite its many riches, Ethiopia never became a great trading nation. Most Ethiopians despised traders, preferring instead to emulate the country's warriors and priests.
After establishing a foothold in the country, Greek, Armenian, and Arab traders became the economic intermediaries between Ethiopia and the outside world. Arabs also settled in the interior and eventually dominated all commercial activity except petty trade.

Three Countries and One Resource

We have three countries and one potential resource for their wealth.
Resource management

The water and silt mainly belong to Ethiopians, but they were not the wealthiest nation of the region. Egypt was richer than Ethiopia. Tyre was more rich than these two.
Egypt became wealthy by managing the resource transferred to them from Ethiopia. Tyre further managed the resources they got from Egypt and Ethiopia and became the richest nation.
Tyre did not do anything but trade on Egypt that came by the river Nile and the sea.

Though Ethiopia is the source of the resource, they despised tradesmen and failed to manage the resource.
Tyre managed what came by to the best benefit of them. Tyre managed their resource, the products of Egypt well and became more wealthy than others.

Parable of talents
Matthew 25.14 – 30 (The Bible)
The master was going to a  far country. Before he went he summoned his own slaves and handed over his property to them. To one he gave five talents. To the second he gave two. To the third he gave one. Talents were entrusted to each one according to his own ability. And he  went on a journey immediately.
The one who had received the five talents went out and traded with them and gained five more. The second who had the two gained two more, in the same way. But the one who had received the one went away and dug up the ground and hid his master’s money.

 After a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.
The first slave who had received five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents. See, I have gained five more talents!’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge over many things. Enter into the joy of your master!’
The second slave who had two talents also came up and said, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents. See, I have gained two talents more!’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge over many things. Enter into the joy of your master!’
The third slave who had received the one talent came up also and said, ‘Master, because I knew you, that you are a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering from where you did not scatter seed.  And because I was afraid, I went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours!’
But his master answered and said to him, ‘Evil and lazy slave! You knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather from where I did not scatter seed.Then you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and when I returned I would have gotten back what was mine with interest! Therefore take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. And throw the worthless slave into the outer darkness—in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!’

The study

Faithful slaves enjoyed freedom under good masters to the extent the master permitted. Good and benignant master’s permitted their slaves to do trade and make profit. A portion of the profit goes to the slave and the rest to the master. Such slaves enjoyed more freedom than others. Hence faithfulness pays even in slavery. Such narration of slavery is found in George S Clason's book, “The Richest Man in Babylon”
All the three slaves in the parable were faithful to give it back to the master when he returned.
The last one got only one talent. Even one talent is not a despicable stock for a slave to begin with. A talent was equal to 15 years’ wages
What was the master’s intention? Surely, he wanted his slaves to trade with it in one way or other in order to multiply it. The slaves too will be benefited from the profit they make.

What is wealth
From the intention of the master we may form a definition for wealth. This is not an academic definition, but rather a practical one.
Wealth is a value that multiplies in the presence and even in the absence of its master. All others are liabilities. Liabilities are things whose value decreases in the absence and even in his presence. House, car etc. are liabilities. Investment in land is wealth.

Why traded with it?
The intention is to multiply the property. Trading is a diligent and dedicated hard job. “A tradesman is one who, having made his trade his choice and taken pains to learn it, lays out all he has for the advancement of it, makes all other affairs bent to it and lives upon the gain of it.” – Matthew Henry’s commentary

Trading is a good example for clever resource management. What a trader trades in remains with the trader only for a short time. He only buys and sells. During the process of buying and selling, he manages the resource he has (what he has bought) in such a way to make a profit.
A trader does not manufacture anything. He does not produce. He owns nothing. He is only a middleman. He positions himself at a strategic point where the manufacturer/producer/owner and the customer meet each other through him and exchange products and their value. The products of others are the resources of a tradesman to make profit.
A tradesman in an unnecessary necessity.
A successful trader is a good example for clever resource management

Accounts settled
The first two, it is said that, they traded with the money and doubled it. They made a hundred percentage profit out of it. But the one who received one talent hesitated to trade. He said that he was afraid of losing it.
He did not misspent it. He did not misemploy it. He did not squander it away. He kept the money safe.
The intention of hiding it under the earth was not to cheat the master, but to keep it safe from robbers.
When the master came back, he returned the money safe. But the master called him “evil and lazy”. What little he had was taken away from him. He was left poor and imprisoned. His one talent was given to the first one who doubled his ten talents.

The master sums up the whole incident with the moral:

“For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”

The Three Ts

We have three resources to succeed in our life. Every one has these three Ts.
They are:
Talents (Health)
Gazelle and Lion

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.”

Gazelles are medium-sized antelopes found in Africa and in Asia as far east as Mongolia.
There are some 19 different species of gazelles. Gazelles are rather small antelopes, most standing 2–3.5 ft (61–107 cm) high at the shoulder, and are generally fawn-colored. These grazing antelopes live in herds, which can consist of as few as ten or as many as several hundred animals. During the plentiful rainy season, thousands of animals can be seen gathering in large groups.Gazelles typically frequent wide-open spaces and plains, where they browse on grasses, shoots, and leaves. Open plains make them visible to predators like cheetahs or wild dogs, but gazelles are fleet of foot. Gazelles are known as swift animals. Some are able to run at bursts as high as 60 mph (97 km/h), or run at a sustained speed of 30 mph (48 km/h).

Gazelle and Lion - Prayer
A Gazelle prays to God to save it from the chasing lion. A hungry lion prays to God for the Gazelle it chases for food, otherwise it will die. Whose prayer will God answer?
God will answer none of them. God has already given each of them the power to sustain them. It is up to them to use the power or die.

God has given each of us enough resources to lead a successful life. We are free to make a choice, either to manage them well and succeed or fail.

Let us manage our resources well and succeed.

Professor Jacob Abraham

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