Desmond Tutu the Egoist
Would I be confident in who I am?
I know very little about the Archbishop Desmond Tutu. What I know is he was an archbishop in South Africa and was against the apartheid. What I know of his beliefs and sayings came from authors I read who would quote him. When I heard about his death, I am ashamed to say I didn’t know he was still alive. Since his death, many have tweeted about his influence and work. It seems I have missed out on knowing a great man of the faith.
One tweet that challenged me was a long quote from a book. It is a parenthetical quote from the book, Being Disciples: Essentials of the Christian life, written by Rowan Williams. (Disclosure: I have not read this book.)
“(I have a theory, which I started elaborating after I had met Archbishop Desmond Tutu a few times, that there are two kinds of egotists in this world. There are egotists that are so in love with themselves that they have no room for anybody else, and there are egotists that are so in love with themselves that they make it possible for everybody else to be in love with themselves. They are at home in their skins. It doesn’t mean that they are arrogant or self- obsessed or think they are faultless. They have learned to sense some of the joy that God takes in them. And in that sense Desmond Tutu manifestly loves being Desmond Tutu; there’s no doubt about that. But the effect of that is not to make me feel frozen or shrunk; it makes me feel that just possibly, by God’s infinite grace, I could one day love being Rowan Williams in the way that Desmond loves being Desmond Tutu...)”
Reading this cut my heart. Am I at home in my skin? Have I learned, or even believe, that God takes joy in me? Do I love being me? The answer to all these questions is, “No.”
Most people know and (probably) believe God loves them. But could we know and believe God takes joy in us? Could I, would I, know that God takes joy in me? It is hard pressed to know and believe, and to live as Tutu has. Like Rowan, I say the prayer, “By God’s infinite grace, I could one day love being Andrew Terry in the way the Desmond loves being Desmond Tutu.”
How do you come to know, believe, and live within the joy God has for you? Tell me, I want to know.