New book on Churchill offers wisdom on life, leadership
Never Give In! The Best of Winston Churchill’s Speeches Selected by His Grandson Winston S. Churchill (Hyperion Press: 2003, 524 pages) $27.95.
I had the privilege this week to return to my alma mater, Union University for a special occasion. Traveling down the road from St. Louis to Jackson, Tenn., my wife and I witnessed some of the very earliest of autumn’s colors being splashed across the trees. The purpose of the trip was to attend Union’s 10th annual Scholarship Banquet. Keynote speakers in past years have included world leaders such as Margaret Thatcher, George H.W. Bush, and Rudy Giuliani. Winston S. Churchill filled the podium this year, and he brought with him all the dignity, charm, and eloquence necessary to prove that he is indeed the grandson of his famous namesake.
Churchill delighted us with anecdotes about his grandfather, but he also brought some serious concerns to our attention. Just like the threat of Nazism during World War II and the shadow of Soviet communism during the Cold War, Churchill warned us of the dangers posed by radical Islamic fundamentalism. In addition to the threat of violent Islamic terrorism, the sheer demographic facts show a fast approaching Islamic dominance of Europe. He said that within a generation or two, many European nations will have populations with Islamic majorities. However, there seems to be an unwillingness to talk about these issues. Churchill declared, “We would sooner commit national suicide than be accused of being politically incorrect.”
In response to vacillation in the face of danger, Churchill urged us to look to his grandfather for principles of leadership. The essence of leadership is found in five elements: knowledge, wisdom, prescience, honor and courage. Although the leadership of the Churchill family is primarily known for involvement in politics and foreign affairs, I would hope that pastors can also see the importance of these elements in the task of pastoral leadership. There is a treasure chest of wisdom we can gain by studying the life and leadership of Winston Churchill.
To that end, I’d like to recommend an excellent collection of Winston Churchill’s speeches, selected and annotated by his grandson. Drawing from a lifetime of spoken words that would fill ten thousand pages, a sampling of his oratory has been carefully chosen for our enjoyment and benefit. The speeches include both the famous war-time pieces, as well as lesser known words delivered when he was just embarking on statesmanship at the turn of the century.
Missourians can take special pride in the historic “Iron Curtain” speech delivered March 5, 1946, at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. In one magnificent breath of prescient oratory, Churchill warned of the mortal danger posed by Soviet Russia. He called on the United States to lead the world in building a defensive alliance against the spread of freedom-denying communistic regimes. Vilified at the time as the words of a warmonger, the Fulton speech proved prophetic in warning of the coming Cold War.
Let me recommend that you pour over these speeches in connection with reading through one of the excellent Churchill biographies, like the William Manchester volumes. In reading through the biography, when you come to the point where Churchill gave a certain speech, turn over to the volume Never Give In! and read the speech in context. Chew slowly on the reading, asking yourself what principles of life and leadership are exemplified. I promise you that such a study will prove a worthy investment of your time. (Scott Lamb is one of the founding pastors of Providence Baptist Church, St. Louis, and is a regular book reviewer for The Pathway. To respond to this review or to read about other books, visit www.wisdomofthepages.com.)