Sunday, August 8th, 2010...10:55 am

Cowards into Brave Men

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Winston ChurchillWinston  Churchill was possibly the greatest political leader of the 20th century, a modern day Cyrus of sorts. He loved the hymns of the Church of England and professed a belief in Christianity, although perhaps not in the  evangelical sense we would understand it. Yet his passion for good against evil, his soaring rhetoric and his strategic genius inspired England and the free world to face unsurmountable odds and defeat the Nazi killing machine.

What was the key to Churchill’s ability to inspire? Oxford philosopher Isaiah Berlin answers this way — Churchill idealized the English people “with such intensity that in the end they approached his ideal and began to see themselves as he saw them.” In doing so, he “transformed cowards into brave men and so fulfilled the purpose of shining armour.”

Churchill lived with what in his time was a fairly old fashioned vision of the glory of the British people, who proudly belonged to the ‘Empire upon which the sun never sets.’ In 1939, most of the English population did not see themselves that way. They just wanted to make a living and avoid at all costs another war like WWI. But, Berlin observes, Churchill so ‘idealized’ the people that with time they began to see themselves as Churchill saw them and in doing so, Churchill ‘transformed cowards into brave men.’ A fundamental axiom of leadership is that people will tend to conform to what a leader thinks of them and will rise to that leader’s expectations of them.

As spiritual leaders we, too, carry a vision of the the glory of a Kingdom centered in the rule and reign of Christ, creator of all. This shapes a Kingdom lens through which we look at every other human being. Our ministry of loving, preaching and exhorting transforms how people see themselves. They come to see themselves as Christ sees them. In the process they rise above fear, insecurity and the curse of unworthy, self-centered aims. This, by the Spirit, through Christ, transforms people from cowardice to bravery, from consumerism to servanthood, from being victims to rising as victors.

“No, in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)

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