Be A Mandela, For Your Own Sake

Kings, queens, and presidents will gather this week to honor the life of one man.  The world is focused on the life and legacy of one of the greatest men who has ever lived. Have you ever wondered why the world stands in awe of Nelson Mandela’s life? Is it his long life of ninety-five years? Is it his political accomplishment? Is it the smile on his face? Is the warmth of his character?

More than any other factor the world idolized Mandela because he provided a model. You see in our world today we have loads of books telling us how to live and what to do. There are thousands of teachers, preachers, and bloggers giving advice on how to conduct our public, business, and personal lives. Mandela gave us a model. Yes imperfect I am sure, yet a much needed one.

While the world is mourning his passing, we ponder his achievements and the strength of his convictions. How can a man overcome the hardship suffered in twenty-seven years of unjust imprisonment and become one of the best leaders the world has ever known? Is there a lesson he can teach us or a formula we can employ? Yes, there is at least one important scientifically proven source for his success.

Watch president Jimmy Carter says about what empowered Mandela:

You cannot live in this world without being unfairly accused or maltreated. On the other hand, you and I may have been unfair to others. That is the reason why Jesus exhorts to pray “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Regardless of your faith or religious persuasion there are three lessons I glean from the Mandela model:

  • Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. As he walked out of his twenty-seven year incarceration he said, “I knew if I did not leave my anger and bitterness behind I will still be in prison.”
  • Forgiveness pays. It is scientifically proven. Finding it hard for forgive? Do it for your own sake.
  • We live in an angry world that is looking for healthy models. Your challenge and mine are to be good models for our children, grandchildren, and our communities.

I am reminded of another model. Even on the cross Jesus said, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they do.”