Friday, February 20, 2009


In the eighteenth century, in a stormy night, a huge tree got uprooted and fell across a busy road in Baltimore in the state of Maryland in the USA. A team of soldiers were deputed to clear the block. They cut the branches of the tree and tried their best to move the large log from the road. But they could not move it as it was very heavy. Their superior officer, a stout and strong man on horseback, was watching their work, giving strong directions and stern commands, without any physical participation in the work.

A passer-by on a white horse saw the scene. He asked the officer why he did not lend a helping hand to the sweating soldiers instead of giving loud oral orders. The officer replied in a rage, “I am the officer in command of this operation. I am their superior officer. It is below my dignity to work with them.”

The traveller readily removed his hat and coat and joined the soldiers. Toiling together, after much effort, they could remove the log and clear the block on the road. While departing, the traveller told the officer, “When you have a difficult work, you can call me. I will come to help you.” “Who are you?” asked the officer. “I am George Washington,” replied the stranger as he speeded on his horse. The officer was struck with wonder and shame. The stranger was the President of the USA and the Commander-in-Chief of the US military.

George Washington (1732-1799) who commanded the American forces during the historic War of independence was the first President of the USA. He was a principled leader, a great statesman and a renowned philanthropist.

Kindness and compassionate love to all, especially to the poor and underprivileged, is the sign of genuine greatness and real leadership. A leader is one who knows the way, shows the way and goes the way. He should not be like passive sign boards which show the way silently, without active involvement in the movement.

Jesus taught His disciples, “The greatest one among you must be like the youngest, and the leader must be like the servant… But I am among you as one who serves” {Luke 22: 26, 27}.

Jesus advised, “The greatest one among you must be your servant {Matthew 23: 11}. Jesus promised, “Everyone who makes himself great will be humbled, and everyone who humbles himself will be made great {Luke 14: 11, Luke 18:14}.

Humility is the greatest of graces.

By: Dr. Babu Philip, Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India.

This is story No.109 in this site. Please click ‘older posts’ at bottom of page to read previous stories.

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