Nothing to Prove, Nothing to Hide, Nothing to Lose

“Nomination To Receive The Honorary Doctorate Degree” letter I received on April 14, 2021

 

Recently I received an email (partly screenshot above) announcing my nomination to receive an honorary doctorate degree. It is is possible that I would have felt more flattered and been more tempted to go after this fake degree from these fictitious institutions had I not already been a “Dr.” (medical). Coming from a family in which my grandfather was an emeritus professor and where my mother and father-in-law are PhDs in history and economics respectively, these titles don’t exactly faze us. Yet those who offer them know they are toying with very powerful human emotions, motivations and identity issues at the core of our being and have made a good business of it. As my best friend said when I forwarded the said email to him, “this has nothing to do with you; it has everything to do with business.”

Some however, including many Christian leaders, have taken the bait and gotten decorated with very dubious degrees and titles. Recently, there was a huge brouhaha over a popular Ghanaian musician based in London who was alleged to have amassed three degrees, including a PhD, within four months! Perhaps if he had even shut up, none of this would’ve become an issue of investigation and castigation setting social media abuzz but he was flaunting it and ‘praising God’ for the fake feat. The desire to flaunt it itself reveals the very identity and emotional challenges he might have that perhaps led to him to go for those inauthentic accolades in the first place.

Popular gospel singer, Sonnie Badu, has now supposedly earned the title ‘Dr’ after bagging a doctorate in Musicology and being awarded two more degrees.

 

The above picture of Sonnie, whose giftedness is unquestionable but his academic credentials are, was uploaded by himself on social media touting his feat. I have met Sonnie. He is a fine young man and anointed. But I can also tell you he is far from perfect; just like you and me. Speaking of Sonnie and musicology, incidentally, my grandfather was a celebrated ethnomusicologist. His work earned him many accolades including several honorary doctorates but he never used the title “Dr.” because although he had done enough original research work to deserve ten doctorates he never really formally pursued a PhD per se. Interestingly, he shot straight from ‘mister’ to ‘professor’ and was ’emeritus professor’ for the last three decades or so of his life.

This degree brouhaha touches on at least three issues: identity, purpose and authenticity.

 

IDENTITY

There was once a programme organized by a friend of mine. The MC got on stage and introduced a certain pastor to come up and offer a prayer. He inadvertently introduced him, with no malice, as Mr. XYZ. XYZ comes up, grabs the mic and makes a correction, “I’m not Mister, I’m Pastor.” That wasn’t all; it gets worse. Later he clears his throat and amends his correction saying something like, “In fact, I’m not Pastor, I am Reverend.” Ahem. Wow! What a shock, what a shame.

But lest I come across as holier than thou, remember I told you that the people offering fake degrees know exactly what they are massaging in us: the ego. I can tell you that as a medical doctor myself there are many times when people address me in speech or in writing as ‘Mr.’ and I have a natural gut reaction to get offended, said in my head something like “do you know who you’re talking to?” and yearned to correct them. There’s a part of me that even justifies it thus: “mehn, but you earned it.” That, my friend, is not the authentic self.

We need not, and indeed should not, root our identity in external things like what we wear, how much we earn, what degrees or title(s) we have acquired. Anything that man can give you, man can take away. Let’s not root our identity in any such thing. And you would think that supposed men and women of God would know better and root their identity in nothing less than Christ himself.

 

PURPOSE

You may have ‘more degrees than a thermometer’ and still not accomplish your God-given purpose. There are some without degrees at all and yet have made much more impact in the world than those with many letters behind their names. Your purpose in life determines the vehicles and tools you need to use. It’s strange to make the acquisition of vehicles and tools our primary objective when one hasn’t first sat down to evaluate if that is what they need to get done the job they came on earth to accomplish. It’s about dreams, not diplomas and degrees.

Did you read about the recent brouhaha over the apparent insistence of Jill Biden, wife of the current U.S. president, to be called “Dr” ? It’s really been going on for at least a decade now: “Hi, I’m Jill. Jill Biden. But please, call me Dr. Biden.” The December 2020 op-ed by Joseph Epstein in the Wall Street Journal implored Jill Biden to “think about dropping the honorific, which feels fraudulent, even comic.” Personally, I think the essence of what Epstein was trying to say became lost in what became an embroilment in sexism. The real question should be: does being ‘Dr.’ make Jill a better educator (that she’s been for decades) or not? Everything else is secondary; even tertiary.

 

AUTHENTICITY

This degree saga leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to authentic leadership. It speaks to the core of authenticity. Authentic leaders have:

  • nothing to prove–a matter of humility (not try to project self worth)
  • nothing to hide–a question of integrity (no playing of games but totally transparent)
  • nothing to lose–a matter of simplicity (not strive for social image or popularity).

As you might have noticed, humility, integrity and simplicity as an acronym spell HIS. This is particularly instructive to Christian leaders. Those of us at the Third Lausanne Congress on world Evangelization in Cape Town in 2010 were passionately exhorted by theologian Chris Wright to be God’s saints, Christ’s people, HIS people of humility, integrity and simplicity.

 

NOT SO WITH YOU

Again, especially for Christian leaders, the primary power base of an authentic (wo)man of God is spiritual power—not positional or personal power. Others may go that route but Jesus was very clear to his followers who would be leaders: “not so with you.” In May 2020, I wrote quite extensively on that here. We need to lead different. This issue just won’t go away until Christians really chose to be H.I.S. people.

 

CONCLUSION

In light of the recent brouhaha about fake degrees, Friends, BE WARNED. Don’t allow your ego to be stroked and stoked, making your false self acquiesce to receiving fake degrees from fictitious institutions. If you want a degree, go to school and study for one! In any case, one doesn’t necessarily need a degree to succeed in life! Hopefully your going for a diploma or degree would only be because you have observed It will a good vehicle or tool towards your dream. Again, the thing is: You can have ‘more degrees than a thermometer’ and still not fulfill your God-given purpose in life.

I have a mentor who likes to say, “the thing about titles is that if you’re good you don’t need them; if you’re not they won’t help you.” Heaven help us!

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76 Comments

  1. Eugene Zuta says:
    April 23, 2021

    Thank you Osofo… This is gold!!!

    Reply
    • Yaw Perbi says:
      April 23, 2021

      Thank you too, bro. Hmmm… Eugene, may the Lord ‘engrace’ us. The journey is long, rough and tough. But “we shall overcome.”

      Reply
  2. J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu says:
    April 23, 2021

    Brilliant and spot on. What do we do with decent Christian leaders, some of them personal friends of you and I, who are already caught in the honorific doctorates problem? They are called “doc” and now even the title pastor has been edged out from their designation!

    Reply
    • Yaw Perbi says:
      April 23, 2021

      Osofo, hmmm. Something’s gone wrong with our discipleship. Really wrong. Have we believed a different Gospel?

      Reply
      • Eben Ankrah says:
        April 24, 2021

        Hmmm, I’ve always wondered why the urgent desire for this. I once listen to an old American pastor who insisted on being called brother xxx simply because the title “pastor” was too big for him. Very nice piece…

        Reply
        • Yaw Perbi says:
          April 24, 2021

          Amen. Call me “brother.” If we can’t take that then we’re in real trouble. It amazes me that the titles and accolades Paul had earned and was now calling “dung” in the light of the Gospel there has arisen another generation that are rather ‘dunging’ the Gospel for these things that don’t last. God forbid any further such!

  3. Solomon Idan says:
    April 23, 2021

    I’m really inspired
    HIS – Humility, Integrity, and Simplicity 😎
    Thank you boss

    Reply
    • Yaw Perbi says:
      April 23, 2021

      May we be HIS people; nothing more, nothing less, Solomon.

      Reply
  4. Richmond Duafah says:
    April 23, 2021

    Thanks Doc. You have said it all. Thanks very much

    Reply
    • Yaw Perbi says:
      April 23, 2021

      Thanks Richmond. Now that we know these things, blessed are we if we do them, right?

      Reply
  5. Emmanuel Obeng Boateng says:
    April 23, 2021

    Powerful, really a lot to learn. This needs to be reposted over and over again till it sinks deep

    Reply
    • Yaw Perbi says:
      April 23, 2021

      Even I need a constant reminder, I agree. The ego is strong but the cross is stronger!

      Reply
  6. Agnes Asiedu Minta says:
    April 23, 2021

    Absolutely

    Reply
    • Charles Ofori says:
      April 24, 2021

      Thanks Doc for sharing. This is a wake up call for us all. It is not the degrees that make us fulfil our God given purpose.

      Reply
      • Yaw Perbi says:
        April 24, 2021

        God help us to major on the majors.

        Reply
  7. David says:
    April 23, 2021

    If you still think Dr Jill Biden shouldn’t be called a ‘Dr’ because hers was a PhD, then Sir, how different are you from others who take fake degrees??

    Reply
    • Yaw Perbi says:
      April 23, 2021

      Dear David, I’m not saying she shouldn’t be called ‘Dr.’ I’m saying her (or my) identity shouldn’t be rooted in a title.

      Reply
  8. Evangeline says:
    April 23, 2021

    What a fine read! Love the end! “the thing about titles is that if you’re good you don’t need them; if you’re not they won’t help you.”

    Reply
    • Yaw Perbi says:
      April 23, 2021

      God help us, Evangeline!

      Reply
      • Nana Esi says:
        April 23, 2021

        May I be H.I.S person. Word! Thank you for this reminder.

        Reply
      • Emmanuel Kwabena Ofori-Amanfo says:
        April 24, 2021

        Fantastic piece. Our real identity should not be rooted in titles but whose own we are. We are for Christ, purchased by His own precious blood. If we come to appreciate this , there will not be a grudge when when we are addressed without our titles (even if we have genuinely earned them).
        God bless you Sir for coming up with this write-up.

        Reply
        • Yaw Perbi says:
          April 24, 2021

          Yes, yes and yes! We are who God says we are, irrespective of what we have/don’t have, irrespective of what we do/don’t do. That’s something I have written in my personal mission statement to keep me grounded.God ‘engrave’ us!

  9. Brother Elvis says:
    April 23, 2021

    HIS people. That really got me. God bless you, Sir. I do remember your piece on the least spoken about “C” when it comes to marriage. It has blessed me tremendously. This piece is blessing me greatly.

    Reply
  10. Cephas A.E. Oguah says:
    April 23, 2021

    Wow, great read! Indeed, we need this reminder, that our lives don’t consist of the abundance of the things we possess, but the essence of life is one in which our Father is well pleased.

    Reply
  11. Isaac Poku says:
    April 23, 2021

    Interesting read!
    God bless you.

    Reply
  12. Nyuiemedi Nyanu says:
    April 23, 2021

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Let us all Christian strife to be H.I.S wherever we are. Even in our home environment. That’s where it actually begins!

    Reply
  13. Hannarich says:
    April 23, 2021

    Well said Doc.
    Favorite line sums it all for me:

    “The the thing about titles is that if you’re good you don’t need them; if you’re not they won’t help you.” Heaven help us!

    Thanks for this Dr Perbi

    Reply
  14. Rev Francis Sey says:
    April 23, 2021

    An excellent piece. God Bless you.

    Reply
  15. Abraham Kenin says:
    April 23, 2021

    We are HIS people.
    The self life is opposed to the Christ life. God bless you man of God.

    Reply
  16. Seryda Yankson says:
    April 23, 2021

    These are very serious thoughts we as youth need to consider as the world gets more and more materialistic. I’ll add degrees to the materials. I’ve been disgusted by the pride people exhibit after obtaining a degree or promotion: that feeling of importance or “better than everyone else”. This even affected my pursuit for further education. I’ve told myself I prefer Mrs to Dr anyday anywhere. God help us to let this mind be in us that is also in Christ Jesus…

    Reply
    • Yaw Perbi says:
      April 25, 2021

      Amen to your prayer that “God help us to let this mind be in us that is also in Christ Jesus!” ‘Mrs’ is a serious title too oo, Seryda. 🙂

      Reply
  17. Joseph Adu-Gyamfi says:
    April 23, 2021

    The ego is obviously very strong; ego to prove that you’re not a failure, that you’re also enjoying life. It’s become a bait for caging most great talents. Ego to prove their ‘supposed’ success and buy fame and recognition. God be our reminder and humbler always

    Reply
  18. David Lartey says:
    April 23, 2021

    Great piece…God bless you

    Reply
  19. Emmanuel Melomey says:
    April 23, 2021

    We are indeed salt and light of the world Dr. But when we have misplaced identity and purpose we will fall prey to these things. The Good Lord be our helper. “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. Mt.5:13

    Reply
  20. Edwin says:
    April 23, 2021

    Sad,I didn’t want this article to end. God bless you Sir

    Reply
  21. Samuel says:
    April 23, 2021

    Great piece. I pray we’ll read and heed. Jesus Christ is our mentor, He never cared about titles. May we be His followers indeed.

    Reply
  22. Bright Eric Ohene says:
    April 23, 2021

    The best way to paint a picture of Humility Integrity and Simplicity with words. Beautiful write up, and I am ministered to. God bless you.

    Reply
  23. Stephen Nana Yaw Ahunu Amoako says:
    April 23, 2021

    Big Bro, I think you couldn’t have said it better. In my Church, Pentecost, we know our humble beginnings and where God has brought us now. So those titles and accolades are not part of us, Humility and quest to be like Jesus Christ is our goal. Said for today’s Christians

    Reply
    • Yaw Perbi says:
      April 24, 2021

      Namesake, this is an urgent matter and may we be HIS people. I beg to differ that the Church of Pentecost doesn’t have this challenge. I see the scramble to be Evangelist, Deacon(ess), Apostle etc. and how some people can’t even say/write their name without the title. The flesh is strong everywhere; but the cross is stronger! I agree with you: “Jesus Christ is our goal.” CHRIST IS ENOUGH!

      Reply
  24. Emmanuel Parbey says:
    April 24, 2021

    You are always a blessing, even from afar. Thanks for this important lesson. Regards to the family.

    Reply
    • Yaw Perbi says:
      April 24, 2021

      Thanks for the encouragement, Emmanuel. You know Luke 17:10 always.

      Reply
  25. Roland Ofori says:
    April 24, 2021

    Amazing and thought provoking. Enjoyed every bit of it. Thanks for sharing

    Reply
    • Yaw Perbi says:
      April 24, 2021

      Thanks Roland. Grace for the doing!

      Reply
  26. Carol says:
    April 24, 2021

    HIS indeed! By our works, not by their titles.
    Thank you Yaw.

    Reply
    • Yaw Perbi says:
      April 24, 2021

      Yes and amen, boss lady 🙂 Impact, not accolades!

      Reply
  27. Franklin says:
    April 24, 2021

    Thanks Yaw for this excellent write up. Take home for me was the part on Authentic leadership: Humility, Integrity and Simplicity. This canker must be nipped in the bud ASAP!

    Reply
    • Yaw Perbi says:
      April 24, 2021

      There is an older generation that fell for this. Franklin, we shouldn’t let it happen to this and the following ones, God being our help.

      Reply
  28. Mensah S. says:
    April 24, 2021

    Thanks Dr, CEO, Chairman, Evangelist, Rabbi Y. Perby 🙂

    Time to put a red light to our crazy obsession to titles. From one-man CEOs to Senior Apostle-Generals and focus on the job, as meek Moses did, amd as Jesus did.

    Reply
    • Yaw Perbi says:
      April 24, 2021

      Hahahaa! This is the first time I’ve been called a Rabbi. See how the stroking and stoking of the ego goes? Lol! I love your expressions: “put a red light to our crazy obsession” and “focus on the job.” Heaven help us!

      Reply
  29. Victor Vulor says:
    April 24, 2021

    Brilliant write-up. Thanks for sharing it. A lot of people in recent times are just so crazily obsessed with titles.

    Reply
  30. Nene Agbasie Akweh says:
    April 24, 2021

    Amen, great and wonderful write up.
    If only we will “shut up” and concentrate on to fulfill our God given assignments here on earth.

    Reply
  31. Herbert Prebi says:
    April 24, 2021

    This is a spot on write up worth reading over and over again.👏🏼👏🏼 God bless you Dr..Yaw Perbi

    Reply
  32. Emmanuel Quarshie says:
    April 24, 2021

    You aptly captured it! The truth of the matter is that these degrees and titles are but a pale shadow of one’s real self. The acquisition of degrees and insistence of being addressed in a particular manner don’t change a man nor will it contribute to earning a place God’s kingdom. May the Lord help us to remain humble and sober minded.

    Reply
  33. Mona Quartey says:
    April 25, 2021

    Well articulated truth. Thank you Yaw Perbi.
    A large dose of HIS will help us to go very far in almost every part of our lives individually and as a Nation.

    Reply
  34. Madeline says:
    April 25, 2021

    This is a very thought provoking post. It’s all a game of power play and ego stroking. A game that sadly even men of God are not above.

    http://www.madelinewilsonojo.com

    Reply
  35. Chris Addo says:
    April 25, 2021

    “HIS people of humility, integrity and simplicity”. God rich bless you. The article was very insightful

    Reply
  36. Desmond Klenam says:
    April 25, 2021

    Well articulated. Succinct and straight to the point

    Reply
  37. Ebenezer Tagoe says:
    April 25, 2021

    Great piece. I can’t agree with you more. God bless you

    Reply
  38. Gideon says:
    April 25, 2021

    Well said Osofo. But don’t be surprised. In Isaiah 14:12-15, Satan did the same thing. Now we have become so interested in titles and positions, we don’t want to be servants and shepherds as Jesus said we should be.
    PRIDE!
    One of Satan’s strategy.

    Reply
  39. Ama Ohenewaa says:
    April 26, 2021

    God richly bless you Dr. More grace to be HIS🙏

    Reply
  40. Roland Fortune Amewu says:
    April 26, 2021

    …Let those who have ears hear what the Lord has laid through you. This is very insightful. Not just for those in the vineyard; but for every one of us. God Bless You

    Reply
  41. Leiton Chinn says:
    April 27, 2021

    Thank you Yaw; even with your full plate of international student ministry, you have invested in sharing a critical
    warning about a tempting lure and reminder of one of the enemy’s strategies to go after a prideful lust

    Reply
  42. Cephas says:
    April 27, 2021

    Great Write Up. Self worth is not embedded in “Titles”

    Reply
  43. Nana Aboagye says:
    April 29, 2021

    Very insightful.. I’ve shared a quote on my WhatsApp status and Facebook wall.
    Thank you for this piece

    Reply
  44. Seth Adzokatse says:
    April 29, 2021

    Thanks my brother, we spuring each other unto good works as we see the day approaching. For it is not with so and must not be so with us. Shalom

    Reply
  45. Kwaku Opare Darko says:
    May 4, 2021

    Spot on, my brother. The identity crisis is deep and Christian leaders should lead the way to emancipation. Thanks for the piece.

    Reply
  46. Kwaku Darko says:
    May 4, 2021

    Spot on, my brother. The identity crisis is deep and Christian leaders should lead the way to emancipation. Thanks for the write up.

    Reply
  47. Ewurama says:
    May 5, 2021

    Humility, Integrity, Simplicity!
    My ego is strong but the cross is stronger.
    Selah
    Thought provoking piece

    Reply
  48. Ewurama says:
    May 5, 2021

    Thank you!

    Reply
  49. Reindorf Perbi says:
    May 5, 2021

    You’ve said it all, Nana Yaw. Ayekoo.

    “ Have we believed a different gospel?”, you aptly asked.

    Reply
    • Yaw Perbi says:
      May 5, 2021

      Thanks dad. I learnt from the best-YOU!

      Reply
  50. James Odei says:
    August 4, 2021

    I agree with the previous comment. You said it all. Great write-up. God bless!

    Reply

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