Leaders Like Mandela, King Are “Forged in the Fire”

Nelson Mandela, Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA, 4 July 1993

The world is paying tribute to Nelson Mandela–and his efforts toward freedom and peace–after his death last week. Mr. Mandela played a key role in ending apartheid in South Africa, and he stands out for the forgiveness and peaceful approach he took in leading South Africa after the end of that system.

But even though Mr. Mandela is mostly remembered as a peacemaker, his methods were not always peaceful.

~ Tim Groves, “Nelson Mandela and the Quest for Peace“, News & Prophecy Blog, Life Hope & Truth site

Thus begins an article dated today on Life Hope & Truth.  We covered some of this in my last article on Nelson Mandela.  As the above article states, he went to jail for some of his activities but emerged a very different man.  He went in as a proponent of violence but came out as a proponent of peace.  His trial taught him something about human nature, and in at least one area he was victorious over his own carnal nature.

Nelson Mandela was a leader.  Dr Martin Luther King, Jr was a leader.  You and I are in training to be leaders.  What can we learn from their lives?

Recently, I heard an interview with Alveda King, niece of Dr King, about Nelson Mandela.  She said he went to prison and came out completely different.  She stated that leaders like Mandela and her uncle “are forged in the fire“.  There’s an expression I had not heard for some time, and it struck me how true it is.

You know, sometimes people talk about heroes and heroism, but the fact is that heroes rarely set out to be heroes.  They just happen to be the right person in the right place at the right time.  Most often, you will hear one say in an interview something like, “Anyone would have done the same thing.”  The fact is, however, that is not necessarily true!  How many other incidents happen all around us where no one reacts, or people duck and dodge out of the way?

Likewise, great leaders rarely set out to be great leaders.  More often, they feel that someone has to act, so it might as well be them.

Winston Churchill is a good example of another one that was forged in the fire.

Out of office and politically “in the wilderness” during the 1930s, Churchill took the lead in warning about Nazi Germany and in campaigning for rearmament. On the outbreak of the Second World War, he was again appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. Following the resignation of Neville Chamberlain on 10 May 1940, Churchill became Prime Minister. His steadfast refusal to consider defeat, surrender, or a compromise peace helped inspire British resistance, especially during the difficult early days of the War when Britain stood alone among European countries in its active opposition to Adolf Hitler. Churchill was particularly noted for his speeches and radio broadcasts, which helped inspire the British people. He led Britain as Prime Minister until victory over Nazi Germany had been secured.

~ “Winston Churchill“, Wikipedia

The above paragraph really does not do justice to the ostracism that Churchill endured during that time.  He became a real pariah among the politicians, to be avoided at all costs.  People criticized him for his warnings about Nazi Germany.  However, much like Jepthah who was also an outcast, the nation called upon him in their time of need.

When you and I endure trials, we must think upon how great leaders underwent such trials themselves.  Jesus Christ, Who is to be our example, was forged in a particularly horrific type of trial that is hard for us to imagine.  We need to be mindful of this when difficulties come our way.  In essence, Jesus can tell us, “Don’t worry.  I’ve been where you are.”  He can tell us, “I have gone through suffering and misery as well.  I have been there.”  Yet, He kept the faith all the way through.

2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

~ Jas 1:2-4 (HCSB)

So, remember that great leaders are forged in the fire.  We must remember these are not peaceful times, but we must strive to make peace where possible as Mandela did.  We must remember to keep our dream alive of being in the Kingdom forever with our Heavenly Father similar to how King kept a dream of American equality alive in his and other people’s minds.  Lastly, we must remember that we must “never give in — never, never, never, never” give up, but we must endure to the end!



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