SUNDAY SERMON : People will respect and admire us more when we try to be who we really are
Published on November 28, 2010
By REV. WILFRED LEEROY KABS KANU
I will never forget the wonderful message blazoned on a Poda Poda I rode the last time I was in Freetown. The message which I am always reminded about, when circumstances cause it, says : BE YOURSELF. It looks like a common and simple message but if examined closer, it is a wise saying with a deeper and more significant meaning than it appears on the surface. And it is the message that holds the key to peace in our communities. Most of our problems in life come when we decide not to be what we are. If only human beings would be honest with themselves, and accept their limitations and do not pretend to be what they are not, most of life’s problems would not exist.
In the world we live, no human being can ever have it all. Even in the area of education, nobody has it all. You meet somebody with two PH.Ds and you think he is the be-all and end-all of Education until you meet somebody else who has 5 PH.Ds. You watch a beauty contest and a lady comes up and you think she is the quintessence of beauty but wait until you see the next one. You watch Arsenal and you think that they are the best ball-playing team in the game. Though I am a Manchester United fan, I do not conceal my admiration of Arsene Wenger’s boys who dazzle with their flowing, immaculate , ball-passing game that sees the ball moving seamlessly from man to man , never mind they don’t often translate their beautiful soccer into goals . But watch Barcelona , especially those days when Samuel E’to and Ronaldino were at the heart of their attack and Arsenal at once become novices in your eyes. Of course, I will not mention the Brazil of yester years with soccer artists like Garrincha, Tostao, Gershon, Djalma Santos, Carlos Alberto , Jairzinho and the greatest player of all times, Pele. You simply run out of adjectives trying to describe their dazzling skills on the ball. And yet, they were never infallible. There were World Cup competitions where the likes of Italy, Argentina or Germany used to beat them soundly .
God, who made us, knows that we have limitations. Some of the limitations we can change but there are some we cannot. There are other limitations we can change but it takes a long time. However, the joy of life is knowing our limitations and living within them until we or God changes them for us. What is bad and troublesome in this world is when we refuse to accept our limitations and pretend to be what we are not.
We all want to be rich and live the bourgeoise life. Nobody wants to be poor but the reality of life is that everybody cannot be rich at the same time. Those who have studied Economics can tell you that the world economy will collapse if everybody becomes rich. However, it is never a crime to be a man of modest means or to be poor. There are many people who are poor, but they live happier, more dignified and more respectable lives. There is more to life than material wealth , especially given the fact that not all who are materially wealthy feel fulfilled or are happy. There is therefore no reason for one to pretend to be rich when he is not.
JESUS CHRIST warned : " Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.." ( Luke 12: 15 ).
As I have said , there is no crime in being poor . There are lots of poor folks who command far more respect in society than some rich ones. There is therefore no excuse for us to pretend to be rich ; there is no reason whatsover for us to give people the false impression that we have millions in our bank accounts when we do not . There is no excuse for us to claim to own businesses that belong to others. People will still respect us if we do not own those businesses.There is also no excuse for us to keep promising people and organizations fantastic largesse that we never deliver because we want them to think we are opulent. People will still respect us without those contributions .There is no reason for us to go around claiming credit for everything achieved by others . We will still be respected by society if we are not responsible for other people’s achievements. There is no reason for us to lie that we procured a job for somebody when the whole world knows that it is absolutely impossible for it to be true. People will still respect us if we did not help anybody get a job. Respect is not something we earn by accomplishing impossible things . We earn respect by the honest manner we conduct business in public. We earn respect when we treat others with respect.
The reason we get ourselves in all these embarrassing situations is that our ego is too big and we think that others will respect us more than they do if we attribute deeds to ourselves that we never accomplished. All this comes about because we do not want to accept our limitations and we want people to think we are what we are not.
The master, JESUS CHRIST, though he was God in the flesh, humbled himself to his very death . In Mark 10:17-18 ESV the Bible says that : "And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘ Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.’ " Everybody knows that Jesus Christ personified goodness in every sense of the word and in him no guile or sin was found but he was so humble and selfless he eschewed the idea of somebody he did not know before coming and larvishing praise on him. It was not bad for the man to call Christ a good man because it was the truth .If somebody is doing a great job and we praise him it is nothing bad. It is the truth and people who are doing well need to be motivated. However, this man was a stranger . Jesus had not known him before and thus the man’s praise could not be sincere . And Jesus was so humble he put the man in his place.
I once shared an apartment at Bass Street, Brookfields , with a cousin of mine, a very famous Sierra Leonean then , who was the most creative individual I had met all my life, a dramatist and a playwright, who at the time had never darkened the doors of a university but I had not met or known anybody more skilful with the English word or a Sierra Leonean who understood how to produce Literature so profoundly like him . The Late Kolossa John Kargbo, who gave Sierra Leone immortal plays like LET ME DIE ALONE, POYOTOGN WAHALA, AMINATA, ME PAPER IN SPEAR etc . never used to conceal the fact that he had not gone to college and that he was just a simple high school leaver. He was very honest with himself and this more than doubled the admiration people had for him. With his supreme intellect and capacity to write thrillingly and educatively, he could have easily gone around lying to people that he had been to college. Nobody would have doubted him. Apart from being a dramatist, Kolossa was also Sports Editor of We Yone and the writer of the gossip columns LOOK GRON and ON THE SAFARI BEAT WITH JOE TEX. John was simply the best in the business and I would see somebody with a PH.D in Journalism or Theatre Arts struggling to match his native talents and agility . But such is life. We do not have it all. And interestingly, I noticed that John Kargbo himself profoundly admired Yulissa Amadu Maddy and the Sports Editor of the DAILY TIMES of Nigeria, Tunde Oshuntolu. I have humble friends who are PH.D holders but they don’t want you to call them Dr. at all.
I have a former room-mate at Fourah Bay College who holds a PH.D and is the Departmental head of a prestigious university in the United States. Yet, in public gatherings , he is so common, simple and humble that he enjoys tremendous admiration for that. You will get into conflict with him if you let people know that he is a PH.D .
The Presidents of Sierra Leone and Liberia , Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf respectively are humility personified. I work with President Koroma and I used to know Madam Sirleaf since she was Minister of Finance in the 1970s under the late President William R. Tolbert jr. People admire these personalities for their humility and simplicity. President Koroma’s tolerance of freedom of the press and the fact that Sierra Leone has never arrested journalists or had political prisoners during his reign boil down to his humility. Egoistic Presidents are the ones who are intolerant of criticism. Some Sierra Leone journalists take advantage of President Koroma’s humility by writing all manners of defamatory things against him. But the President never grumbles about the press.
The Bible admonishes us in Philippians 2 : 5-8
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ
And because JESUS CHRIST humbled himself , God elevated him and gave him a name which is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2: 9 ).
Psalm 16 : 5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: They will not go unpunished.
JAMES 4:6 God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
Let us learn to be humble and be true to ourselves and others about what we are. People will still admire us for what we are , as long as we are honest and good citizens. We don’t have to be what we are not for people to respect and admire us.
MAY GOD RICHLY BLESS YOU FOR READING THIS SERMON.