These Howard Thurman quotes educate us on life, God, fate, and so much more.
Howard Thurman had an active role in organizing and leading many social movements. He was also an American author, philosopher, theologian, and educator. This background helped shape his radical nonviolent approach to change, mentoring people like Martin Luther King, Jr. Thurman and Dr. King’s dads were classmates in college.
What can you learn from Howard Thurman?
He was influenced by his grandma, who was enslaved on a plantation in Florida. Both his mom and grandma were active members of the local church community.
Sadly, his father passed away when he was young. He had to attend high school over a hundred miles from where he lived because only three high schools in Florida accepted black students. Sadly, this wasn’t hundreds of years ago, but rather in 1913.
Howard Thurman quotes about life
1. “There is a quiet courage that comes from an inward spring of confidence in the meaning and significance of life. Such courage is an underground river, flowing far beneath the shifting events of one’s experience, keeping alive a thousand little springs of action.” — Howard Thurman
2. “There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.” — Howard Thurman
3. “There must be always remaining in every life, someplace for the singing of angels, someplace for that which in itself is breathless and beautiful.” — Howard Thurman
4. “At the core of life is a hard purposefulness, a determination to live.” — Howard Thurman
5. “And this is the strangest of all paradoxes of the human adventure; we live inside all experience, but we are permitted to bear witness only to the outside. Such is the riddle of life and the story of the passing of our days.” — Howard Thurman
6. “The hard thing when you get old is to keep your horizons open. The first part of your life everything is in front of you, all your potential and promise. But over the years, you make decisions; you carve yourself into a given shape. Then the challenge is to keep discovering the green growing edge.” — Howard Thurman
7. “Life wears down the edges of the mind.” — Howard Thurman
8. “The radical tension between good and evil, as man sees it and feels it, does not have the last word about the meaning of life and the nature of existence. There is a spirit in man and in the world working always against the thing that destroys and lays waste.” — Howard Thurman
Howard Thurman quotes about God and Jesus
9. “The movement of the Spirit of God in the hearts of men and women often calls them to act against the spirit of their times or causes them to anticipate a spirit which is yet in the making. In a moment of dedication, they are given wisdom and courage to dare a deed that challenges and to kindle a hope that inspires.” — Howard Thurman
10. “When the song of the angels is stilled, When the star in the sky is gone, When the kings and princes are home when the shepherds are back with their flock. The work of Christmas begins: …To find the lost, To heal the broken, To feed the hungry, To release the prisoner, To rebuild the nations, To bring peace among brothers, To make music in the heart.” — Howard Thurman
11. “I will light candles this Christmas, candles of joy, despite all sadness, Candles of hope where despair keeps watch. Candles of courage where fear is ever-present, candles of peace for tempest-tossed days, Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens. Candles of love to inspire all my living, Candles that will burn all the year long.”— Howard Thurman
12. “Jesus rejected hatred because he saw that hatred meant death to the mind, death to the spirit, and death to communion with his Father. He affirmed life, and hatred was the great denial.” — Howard Thurman
13. “Prayer is a form of communication between God and man and man and God… I am always impressed by the fact that it is recorded that the only thing that the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to do was to pray.” — Howard Thurman
14. “Christmas is a mood, a quality, a symbol. It is never merely a fact.” — Howard Thurman
15. “Listen to the long stillness: New life is stirring New dreams are on the wing New hopes are being readied: Humankind is fashioning a new heart Humankind is forging a new mind God is at work. This is the season of Promise.” — Howard Thurman
Howard Thurman quotes on the importance of fate, silence, and dreams
16. “A dream is the bearer of a new possibility, the enlarged horizon, the great hope.” — Howard Thurman
17. “In the stillness of the quiet, if we listen, we can hear the whisper of the heart giving strength to weakness, courage to fear, hope to despair.” — Howard Thurman
18. “Do not be silent; there is no limit to the power that may be released through you.” — Howard Thurman
19. “Fate is the raw materials of experience. They come uninvited and often unanticipated. Destiny is what a man does with these raw materials.” — Howard Thurman
20. “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” — Howard Thurman
21. “The years, the months, the days, and the hours have flown by my open window. Here and there an incident, a towering moment, a naked memory, an etched countenance, a whisper in the dark, a golden glow these and much more are the woven fabric of the time I have lived.” — Howard Thurman
22. “Follow the grain in your own wood…” — Howard Thurman
23. “Twilight – a time of pause when nature changes her guard. All living things would fade and die from too much light or too much dark if twilight were not.” — Howard Thurman
24. “He recognized with authentic realism that anyone who permits another to determine the quality of his inner life gives into the hands of the other the keys to his destiny.” — Howard Thurman
25. “Keep alive the dream; for as long as a man has a dream in his heart, he cannot lose the significance of living.” — Howard Thurman
Howard Thurman quotes about humanity, love, and war
26. “Love has no awareness of merit or demerit; it has no scale… Love loves; this is its nature.” — Howard Thurman
27. “Whatever may be the tensions and the stresses of a particular day, there is always lurking close at hand, the trailing beauty of forgotten joy or unremembered peace.” — Howard Thurman
28. “Keep fresh before me the moments of my high resolve.” — Howard Thurman
29. “There are two questions that we have to ask ourselves. The first is ‘Where am I going?’ and the second is ‘Who will go with me?'” — Howard Thurman
30. “Often, to be free means the ability to deal with the realities of one’s own situation so as not to be overcome by them.” — Howard Thurman
31. “During times of war, hatred becomes quite respectable even though it has to masquerade often under the guise of patriotism.” — Howard Thurman
32. “The measure of a man’s estimate of your strength is the kind of weapons he feels that he must use in order to hold you fast in a prescribed place.” — Howard Thurman
33. “If a man knows precisely what he can do to you or what epithet he can hurl against you in order to make you lose your temper, your equilibrium, then he can always keep you under subjection.” — Howard Thurman
34. “He who fears is literally delivered to destruction.” — Howard Thurman
35. “Community cannot for long feed on itself; it can only flourish with the coming of others from beyond, their unknown and undiscovered brothers.” — Howard Thurman
36. “Commitment means that it is possible for a man to yield the nerve center of his consent to a purpose or cause, a movement or an ideal, which may be more important to him than whether he lives or dies.” — Howard Thurman
37. “Whatever may be the tensions and the stresses of a particular day, there is always lurking close at hand the trailing beauty of forgotten joy or unremembered peace.” — Howard Thurman
38. “In whatever sense this year is a new year for you, may the moment find you eager and unafraid, ready to take it by the hand with joy and gratitude.” — Howard Thurman
39. “Growth always involves the risk of failure.” — Howard Thurman
40. “Perfect love is long delayed.” — Howard Thurman
What did you learn from these Howard Thurman quotes?
Howard Thurman would go on and graduate from college as valedictorian. A few years later, he became an ordained Baptist minister. He graduated from Rochester Theological Seminary in May 1926, again as valedictorian of his class. He was the dean of various collegiate chapels until starting his own church, The Church of the Fellowship of all Peoples, in 1944.
Throughout his life, he wrote twenty books on the topic of theology, religion, and philosophy. His most notable work was Jesus and the Disinherited, which he published in 1949. Thurman used the book as a way to explore Jesus through the views of those being oppressed, which Dr. King read during the Montgomery bus boycott.
Life magazine ranked Thurman among the twelve most influential religious leaders in the United States in 1953. His work, as seen in some of these quotes, inspired generations of change through nonviolent responses.
Feel free to leave any other Howard Thurman quotes and sayings you like from his books in the comments below!
February 1, 2021 7:00 AM EST