Wednesday, August 17, 2011


“Humility is a choice we make to focus on higher issues. It is not a sign of weakness.” - Terry Mante

YES, I agree that humble people are expected to respect people, give consideration to others and exercise a great deal of restraint. Because of these attributes, humility has often been misconstrued as passive involvement, unbridled acquiescence and obvious timidity. Such misconstruction has caused a dilution of the virtue of humility. Hence the value of humility has been lost on many people, as if it is an attribute of weak people. On the contrary, true humility is real strength. It is strength under the clothing of composure, circumspection and consideration.

AFTER being unjustly incarcerated for nearly three decades (1964-1990), Nelson Mandela stepped out of his Robin Island cell to the cheers and applause of the entire world. The whole machinery of the South African state was at his disposal and the wider international community on his back. He had every opportunity and justification to exact his fair share of retribution against his jailors. Instead, Mandela adopted a gracious posture and let bygones be bygones. He chose to focus on weighty matters of reconciliation, development and other issues critical to the positive evolution of his country South Africa.

Mr Mandela composed himself. He did not allow himself to be driven by the pain and stain of his unjust incarceration. He remained calm and steadily controlled his emotions. He did not allow his emotions to drive his actions. That is what humility is; choosing to pursue what you believe to be right without necessarily responding to the provocation of circumstances within which you find yourself. By not pursuing vengeance, Mandela got the nation to focus on issues that would engender development and progress in the country. Humility is a choice we make to focus on higher issues. It is not a sign of weakness. It is a choice only strong people like Mandela can make.

HOW do you arrive at your decisions? Do you carefully consider the pros and cons as well as risks and consequences of your choices before you proceed to act? I know that in many circles, the ability to make decisions quickly, firmly and clearly is a celebrated virtue. It is called decisiveness. Inasmuch as I don’t discount decisiveness, I equally believe that taking time to weigh options and assess potential risks and consequences to arrive at a moderated answer is even worth more than gold. As a matter of fact, it cements and consolidates the decisions you make.

However in certain places, when you take time to decide, you are likely to be seen as slow and timid. But it takes a lot of discipline, intellectual dexterity and maturity to be able to hold on and make decisions. A weak person cannot do that. A strong person can do that. If you choose to be humble, you choose to be strong. You elevate yourself above your emotions and the circumstances around you. You are able to coordinate your responses to situations and live more purposefully.

IN ONE sense, the Encarta World English Dictionary (Bloomsbury Publishing Plc., 1999) renders consideration as “thoughtful concern for or sensitivity towards the feelings of others.” Consideration is about paying attention to the feelings, difficulties and circumstances of others before you embark on an action.
Think about Jesus; a man considered to be part of the Triune God. As the second person of what Christians call the Trinity, Jesus has all power at His disposal including power over life and death. He has power to restore life to the dead, command the storms of the sea and walk on water. He is the one who died and resurrected on the third day of His death – a man of tremendous power and authority; a man who was also God.

In spite of all that, Jesus appeared on earth as a natural person, served God and humanity and got Himself unjustly maltreated and eventually executed by the Roman authorities. Why did Jesus do that? Why would such a powerful person allow Himself to go through such humiliation? Was it because He was weak? Definitely not! He thought about the impact His life, death and resurrection would have on the entire human race. He did not just look at His God-position, but He wanted the human race to have a dignified position in life. Certainly, any individual who purposefully gives up a privileged position for the sake of others is not a reed. Today, Jesus has become such a powerful phenomenon that His name is not just that of a person, but it is the centrepiece of the Christian faith – the largest religious ideology in the world. Jesus now lives in the hearts of many and is the first and final hope of many who are worn out, weak and weary.

HUMBLE people are not fumbled people. Meekness is not weakness but it is strength at its peek which is deliberately constrained. Choose to be humble and you will be strong.

© 2011 Terry Mante
Accra, Ghana

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