Friday Morning Message: “Rhetoric is not important. Actions are.” – Nelson Mandela

We are a society that is seduced by packaging. At Christmas time we can buy beautifully prepackaged sets of products. Unfortunately when we open them up, we find tiny bottles and a whole lot of garbage. The same is true of our leaders. So often we hear fiery rhetoric, phrases designed to inflame our emotions, yet the heart of the message is empty.

Recently I read the phrase quoted above on a friend’s page, and started thinking about how easy it is to have an opinion, and thanks to facebook and other sites, we have a forum to express ourselves. But do we back up the words with action? Our legendary high school principal, C. L. Stuart used to say: “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”

I have often been entertained when I visit various churches, by the antics of the preachers. They have learned to deliver their messages in the most energetic and incendiary way. But is there more than packaging behind their cadences? Anyone who is going to preach or teach needs to hold the attention of their audience, or they will put them to sleep. But beyond the noisy rhetoric their needs to be actions that also teach.

Having grown up in a church led by my father, I was spoiled. This was a man whose actions spoke loudly every day. He also knew how to deliver a message and entertain an audience. But he knew that he was the vessel, the messenger, he was not the message. In every service he left room for the still small voice, the space between his words where if you listened you could hear the words you really needed to hear.

In this noisy world where the loudest always seem to win the argument, we need to listen to the space between the words, and hear the truth. We keep our TVs on all day, and end up hearing nothing. We talk a lot and say little. It is time for us to demand action from our leaders instead of words, and to practice it ourselves.

When I read Nelson Mandela’s quote I laughed to myself. His words made me reflect on my weekly message. Is it just words, am I doing more than talk? Often my messages speak to me as much as to anyone who reads them. I write them in the hope that in some small way I can inspire and at times provoke, and try to continue my father’s legacy.

So on this Friday morning, I hope you can see beyond rhetoric and hear the still small voice. In the spaces between the words is where we can truly connect with each other. I hope you can see beyond the packaging and see the true message. And I hope that you can share my resolve to back up words with actions.

One Love Family! I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and a blessed life.



  1. Yes, this quote was used by Jamaicans for Justice in their flyer for a special event on children’s rights they had on Mandela Day. I thought it just summed things up and was very relevant for Jamaica… And it’s true, we do “talk a lot and say little,” and need to focus on our thoughts. Perhaps fewer words, when we do use rhetoric – and much more action is the answer.

  2. As I said before: “Word”!!

  3. […] Friday Morning Message: “Rhetoric is not important. Actions are.” – Nelson Mandela. […]

  4. Reblogged this on Friday Morning Messages and commented:

    Wrote this over a year ago. Seems particularly appropriate today.

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