One of the earliest lessons we are supposed to learn is not to judge a person by appearance. The most impressive-looking individual may never amount to anything. At the same time, a person whose appearance is hardly worth a second glance could be someone on whom history pivots.
The Apostle Paul is one of the most important people in history. Despite his unmatched influence, he probably wouldn’t have done well as a televangelist. One of the oldest descriptions of his physical appearance can be found in the second-century writing, The Acts of Paul. It describes the apostle as, “A man of middling size, and his hair was scanty, and his legs were a little crooked, and his knees were far apart; he had large eyes, and his eyebrows met, and his nose was somewhat long.”
Another excellent example of this principle can be found in William Wilburforce. The British politician is remembered for leading the movement to abolish the slave trade. To do so, he took on some of the most powerful people in government, business, and society.
If appearances were any indication of his likelihood of success, no one would have given his chances a second thought. He was small and frail, with one description saying that even a modest gust of wind would knock him down.
James Boswell watched and listened as Wilburforce gave a speech. He recorded his impression of this history-changing man: “I saw what seemed to me a shrimp mount upon the table, but, as I listened, he grew and grew until the shrimp became a whale.“
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