Desmond Tutu

Lessons from a Legend

A s our globe shrinks geographically, economically, and socially, it is more important to live together across cultural, racial, and ever-blurring borderlines. I have learned many lessons on performance that have led to great things being accomplished and many yet to come. Lessons from a Legend When you do business with someone, don’t separate business from culture or beliefs. Leaders and leadership come from necessity …nature does not allow a vacuum. Lessons When missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible, and we had the land. They said, “Let us pray.” We closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible, and they had the land. Leaders and leadership come from the necessity for someone to seek change. I am a leader only because nature does not allow a vacuum. Lessons Everything begins with respect. A person is a person because he recognizes others as persons. Once our whole message was, “Will white people hear what we are saying? Please, all we are asking you is to recognize that we are humans too.”It was important at the same time, however, to remind our people, “Be nice to whites. They need you to rediscover their humanity.”

To achieve anything in this life, we should focus on real problems and our part in the solution. I don’t preach a social gospel. I preach the Gospel which is concerned with the whole person.When people were hungry, He didn’t say, “Is that political or social?” He said, “I feed you,” because bread is good news to a hungry person. Lessons We cannot be truly successful and disregard those who are failing. So many of us suffer from the success syndrome where you matter only because you have made it. Most of us think that this carries over to God. God loves us because we deserve to be loved, and we have made it by impressing God.The truth is that God loves me, period. That is the most fundamental truth about us. God loves me, not because I am lovable. I am lovable because God loves me.That gives me my worth and nothing can change it. Civil rights activist Desmond Tutu is a retired Anglican Archbishop, vice director of the Theological Education Fund of the World Council of Churches and Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral among other duties. He received the Nobel Peace Prize, Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, Pacem in Terris Award, Sydney Peace Prize, Gandhi Peace Prize, and Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Lessons Human rights and opportunities are not something bestowed upon us by governments or other people. I don’t want crumbs of compassion thrown by someone considering himself my master. I want the full menu of rights. If you are neutral in injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on a mouse’s tail, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. If you warn that things tottering on the edge of a South African table will fall, you are blamed when that happens. There are no innocent bystanders in human rights. We warned, “Those who invest in South Africa are not doing us a favor.They are here because of our cheap and abundant labor, and they should know that they are buttressing one of the most vicious systems.” Lessons Even oppressors are part of our human family. You don’t choose your family.They are God’s gift to you, and you to them. We may be surprised at who we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners. His standards are quite low.

12 I Nonprofit Professional Performance Magazine

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