The Apostle Paul was scrawny, hard on the eyes, not a good speaker, and constantly paid the price for his style and message. He had lots of scars and baggage. He made mistakes. He considered himself, “…less than the least of all God’s people .” And yet he was one of the most influential people who ever lived. Two thousand years after his death, his letters are among the most reproduced documents in the history of mankind.
In 2 Corinthians 10 Paul responded to attacks against his ministry and his person. He acknowledged that he was “timid when face to face” (v. 1), and that people were saying, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing” (v. 10).
It occurred to me this week, while thinking about Paul, that I had seen and heard someone who fit the description of being a less-than-impressive speaker, but having a powerful message that touched mankind. Her name was Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, and she was often called ‘diminutive’. And like Paul she had detractors. But she had the courage of her convictions and she was able to demonstrate the mercy and love of Jesus Christ in incredible ways. And for that she was memorable.
In 1994 she gave a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, attended by President Bill Clinton and a room full of dignitaries. I remember that I could barely see her head above the podium, could barely make out what she was saying above the acoustics in the room, and that nevertheless she received a standing ovation. It’s difficult to watch her speech (below) in some respects because she was not an impressive speaker. But don’t miss the last minute when she stepped down from the podium.
So what did she say? Here’s the impressive part—her transcript. Many parts of her message confronted the views of the powerful people in the room, but she delivered it passionately anyway, to please an audience of one. She had lived through unspeakable suffering to develop her message. It’s the living Gospel ,with mandates and complete conviction. Mother Teresa really walked the walk. And she had a lot in common with the Apostle Paul.
Here’s a photograph of two renowned women—one was a beautiful lady who brought peace and joy to millions of people, and the other was a princess.