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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A good friend of mine has part of this posted as his quote on Facebook. It is from Teddy Roosevelt, who knew a thing or two about getting down in the mud and trying to lead people:

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again. Because there is no effort without error and shortcomings, he who knows the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the high achievement of triumph and who at worst, if he fails while daring greatly, knows his place shall never be with those timid and cold souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

This quote was included in a speech given at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1910. Teddy used this theme frequently throughout his life. Earlier, in 1894, he said this:

Criticism is necessary and useful; it is often indispensable; but it can never take the place of action, or be even a poor substitute for it. The function of the mere critic is of very subordinate usefulness. It is the doer of deeds who actually counts in the battle for life, and not the man who looks on and says how the fight ought to be fought, without himself sharing the stress and the danger.

If you've ever been the guy in the mud, you identify with these ideas right away. It is much harder to make change, to lead, to affect the world, than it is to sit back and evaluate the efforts of others. So many people see what needs to be done, but are simply afraid of taking the risks to make it happen. In 1992 I heard Dr. Pat Keifert from Luther Seminary say, "It's not rocket science to build a growing, dynamic church. We know exactly how to do that. What's hard is to find a leader who is willing to make the hard calls and take the risks to make it happen."


1 comment:

  1. Well said. Due thanks to Teddy. And second your AMEN.