…And the Oil Stayed.

An Igbo proverbs goes like this ‘Otu aka ruta mmanu, O zu Oha. That means, when one finger touches oil, it is bound to rub off on the other fingers.


Like most native adages, I have seen this to be true. I don’t think there is something that rubs off or leaves a residue more than oil (Vegetable, palm, coconut etc). Oil easily stains its surrounding or flows out if it is in a larger quantity.

Why is this relevant? I’m talking about the power of influence.

I read a story yesterday about a lady who had a very outgoing husband and would always bring guests home. As a result, she was always cooking or hosting people and she wasn’t always happy with it. Then she encountered another friend who narrated her excitement about always hosting people because, in her mind, she was simply using the resources available to her to bless others.

In the story of the widow with oil, Elisha instructed her to gather vessels and pour oil into them and as long as there were empty vessels, the oil continued to flow. His instruction was that she gathered more than a few. As soon as the last vessel was filled, the oil ‘stayed’.

Essentially, there was no longer capacity to absorb the flowing oil. But as long as there were vessels in need of oil, the oil kept running.

Oil could represent our money, time, humor, knowledge, talent or wisdom in our lives. But everyone has oil and our oil should ‘stain’ those around us at the least but the goal should really be to fill others up.

Often, we want to keep our knowledge or wealth to ourselves so that we can be the best but over time, that oil even goes bad. When you use the same oil to fry stuff, you eventually have to throw it out. When you put oil in your car’s engine, it also will need to be changed at some point.

You can’t hoard your way to the top but when you flow unto others, others flow into you as well and we can all make progress.

There’s a popular saying that success is measured by the number of successors we create. Imagine keeping all your oil or resources and dying without influencing or impacting one life.

I must add that there’s no big or small resource. Canola oil is not more important that coconut nor olive oil. They all have their roles. Do not despise your smile because you would rather dance. Give the gift of your smile, or your time or your touch so that your neighbor and hopefully the world would be better for it.

Some of the ways we can give are through mentorship or volunteering or monetary donations. I recently learnt in the wake of Chadwick Boseman’s death that part of his tuition was paid for by Denzel Washington through a scholarship fund. That shows you how great things can happen when you pour out your oil.

Don’t be like the stagnant dead sea. Be like oil that stains. But I encourage you today to aspire to flow.

Heart to Heart: What resource(s) can you give?

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