Every summer I try to take time to read at least one leadership biography. This summer I had the opportunity to read about two extraordinary leaders.
First on my list was Nelson Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. It chronicles Madiba’s radical opposition to apartheid, his twenty-seven long years of imprisonment and his seemingly miraculous transition to be South Africa’s first black president.
The second biography was The Churchill Factor. London mayor Boris Johnson examines the remarkable contribution of Winston Churchill. A man who is seen as a wartime hero, a great orator, a prolific writer, a progressive politician, and an international statesman even though he’s sometimes eccentric, mistaken and politically incorrect.
Though Mandela and Churchill and their circumstances were very different, both clearly demonstrated an uncommon trait – remarkable courage. They stood firm – sometimes alone and sometimes in the face of overwhelming odds and very real dangers. At times they made hard and unpopular decisions in the midst of highly complex circumstances. They persevered over the long haul even when it meant great personal sacrifice. They pressed on when there was no roadmap for the way ahead.
In reading these two books, I was reminded again that our world desperately needs leaders who serve with remarkable courage. As I reflect on the state of the Church and the causes dear to God’s heart, I am convinced we need servant leaders who take to heart the Lord’s command to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
We need to ask for, pray for, encourage and be servant leaders who demonstrate remarkable courage that:
• extends grace without neglecting truth
• advocates for the least and last
• declares the gospel fearlessly and lives for an audience of One
• prioritizes obedience above personal preference
• stands firm in the face of opposition, sacrifice and suffering by choosing to trust
• pursues God’s splendor rather than personal gain
• casts vision for what should be and could be
• leans into community when it would be more comfortable to lean out
• breaks down barriers and builds bridges
• exhibits humility in learning and asking for help
• seeks forgiveness and fosters reconciliation
• waits with anticipation on the Lord
• walks by faith and not by sight
As I read through this list, I’m reminded of Peter and John’s remarkable courage after being jailed and brought before the Sadducees in Acts 4. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter and John didn’t back down. Instead, they continued to boldly declare the gospel. I love how Acts 4:13 records the Sadducees reaction, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
Be encouraged by the accessibility of Peter and John’s credentials for remarkable courage. They had been filled with the Holy Spirit and they had been with Jesus.
Let me close with two questions for reflection and action:
1. Where do you need courage today? This year? Ask God for it. Know that God is faithful, for you, and with you. Remember God’s faithfulness in the past. Abide and depend on the Holy Spirit. Choose to trust Him in your specific area of need.
2. Who could you give courage to today? Reach out. Pray. Write a note. Make a phone call. Come alongside.
To The Point,