He was exiled after he survived boiling oil. It was banishment, a common punishment during imperial period, to the Island of Patmos (Greece), about 5-hour ferry trip from Kos Island. In downtown Athens, you would see the signposts pointing to the island towns and cities like Thessaloniki.
John was sent to Patmos under the persecution of Roman emperor Domitian. There, John wrote one of the most important Books of the New Testament. As a Scripture Union kid in secondary school, it was the only Book of the Bible that I did all to avoid reading in the night. The Revelation is revealing and totally ecclesiastical: stars, horns, kingdoms, and more. I call it the Future Book because reading it tells me the possibilities of future science!
Domitian was troubled. When boiling oil could not touch John, every attendee in the Colosseum accepted John’s message. From Rome, they sent him to Patmos, about 33 hours on modern ferry. The emperor did not want to risk another loss of subjects; he could not predict the next miracle.
It happens in some companies: the most brilliant staff members have strong visions. Many people are threatened. They could shine and the Boards would prefer them, to lead. So, to stop them, the simpletons would conspire to send them to far away branches where they would be forgotten.
Interestingly, like John, those great workers, right in those branches would see great revelations of the companies. Yes, from the branches, they would understand the companies better through better perspectives and insights. John would not have written Revelation if he had remained in Rome. In Patmos, he had all the time for the angel to work with him. Indeed, without the banishment to the Isle of Patmos, a largely forgotten island, the revelation to John would not have happened. And without his experiences in Rome, his mindset would not have been prepared to understand some of the most fascinating descriptions in Revelation.
That is it – in the wilderness of those far away branches, we can see a future, unbounded by the noise of the headquarters. Like John who saw a big vision of the future more than anyone, we can do great things for where we work or in our sector. John who later served as Bishop of Edessa (Turkey) triumphed: the banishment promoted him to see a bigger world than Rome, and wrote the Revelation.
Going to “Patmos” is critical in a globalizing world [we hope you go on strength and peace]. When they send you to China, Brazil and Africa [out of New York], or to Kano, Owerri and Uyo [out of Lagos], they may be plotting your path to a greater mission in your call. In “Patmos”, men have been picked in Walmart, Caterpillar, and Coca Cola to lead. Yes, in Patmos, and many years ago, UBA picked a man from its Port Harcourt branch (not from the headquarters) to run its New York branch. That man is an Executive Director today.
Do not be frightened if Patmos comes: your great vision could be there. And that vision will bring glory through a successful career.
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A frightening and compelling piece, no doubt. As it happened with John in Patmos, same went for Joseph in Egypt, you cannot stop a destiny whose time has come.
There are many lessons here, depending on which side of the divide one sees things from. Two things are well pronounced: vision and conspiracy. The latter is employed to push the brightest and finest minds away from where they could shine the brightest. And in doing so, if there’s an element of the former (vision), those brilliant minds aren’t completely removed from the organisation, which would be a total catastrophe, but rather they are sent to less glamourous locations, with the idea of subduing them; only to discover later that it was actually a pathway to glory!
But there’s a challenge, especially in the public sector, where you may not even be allowed to be sent to the villages, rather your complete annihilation or destruction is sought, thereby denying the sector any chance of producing its own Johns and Josephs in the future.
For a determined individual, where you are sent is immaterial, a bright mind is always the same, irrespective of location. There will always be conspiracy, but we hope that vision will follow it closely, for survival of organisations.
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