Tag Archives: Winston Churchill

Three Heroes: Winston Churchill

I was recently challenged by a friend to embark on this exercise that they’d been working on as part of an identity statement they were developing for a class. Quite simply, you pick three people who are “heroes” or individuals you greatly admire. It can be almost anyone, but should be someone famous and someone you don’t know personally. For those who happen to be followers of Jesus, it was asked that He be excluded from this particular exercise.

I’ve been thinking about it for a few weeks, and it lends itself to a a good blogging challenge. There were a handful of finalists but I finally narrowed it down to three. As it happens, I have photos of these gentlemen taped on the front of my old, worn, paperback Bible (see the featured image of this post).

Today… it’s Winston Churchill.

The more I’ve learned about Churchill over the years, the more I’ve come to appreciate and admire him. Here are a few of the reasons off the top of my head:

Churchill steadfastly held to what he believed to be right. After World War I, when the nations were high on the notion that it was “the war to end all wars,” a young Churchill believed that greatest deterrent to another war was Britain’s strong defense. When the Chamberlain administration was bent on appeasing Hitler and holding that the upstart German dictator didn’t pose a threat to Britain, it was Churchill who was willing to be the loudest, loneliest voice of warning. Churchill reminds me of the strength and character required to stand firm for what you know is right.

Churchill understood, perhaps better than any 20th statesman, the power of words and oratory. He was a master at crafting a speech and delivering it for powerful and memorable effect. During the dark days of World War II when frightened Britons huddled in the dark of night as German bombers rained terror from the skies, it was Churchill’s words that shored up their resolve and inspired their courageous defiance. I am sometimes complimented for my speaking abilities, but Churchill reminds me how much I have yet to learn (and the inspiration to keep working at it).

Churchill was an artist. When he wasn’t changing the course of human history and saving the free world from tyranny, he was outside in nature, in front of a canvas, with a brush in his hand. He reminds me that one can make a living at business or politics while still making a life with art.

churchill painting bw

Churchill struggled. He didn’t have a particularly happy childhood or home life. He had financial struggles. He had major, public failures. He was the object of ridicule and scorn. And, he never let it stop him.

Churchill enjoyed life. The biographies I’ve read of the statesman make it clear that he enjoyed  good company, good cigars, good Scotch, and good discourse. I would love to have enjoyed a long meal, good drink, and an after dinner stogie with the man as we discussed a plethora of topics.

In the person of Winston Churchill I find a cocktail of character, conviction, creativity, leadership, communication, and life. It is a mix that I would love to emulate in my own journey.

Chapter-a-Day Esther 4

Winston Churchill in Downing Street giving his...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 (NLT)

History is full of great stories. The right person is in the right place at the right time and the course of history is changed.

This past summer I read Paul Johnson’s excellent biographical essay on Winston Churchill. I didn’t need to be convinced, but Johnson made the case of how this one man saved a nation and, arguably, the world. Churchill was the right person at the right place at the right time.

In Esther we find a similar example. The fairy tale story of common Jewish girl finding herself becoming the Queen “for such a time as this.”

Those who follow Jesus will find that along the journey the path will lead to similar divine appointments of person, time and place, even if the stakes are smaller and the stories will never make the history books. We experience “small world,” happenstance meetings. We find circumstances fall strangely into place as designs of heavenly origin. The resulting changed courses may be of one solitary life. Nevertheless, like a kicking a pebble on top of a mountain, even one changed life can avalanche to impact countless generations.

Art Heals

I have been watching with great interest as my daughter, Taylor, studies Art Therapy at Grandview University. She and her husband, Clayton, returned this past weekend from a summer spent in Gulu, Uganda where she applied Art Therapy techniques with children and adults who have lived through horrors and tragedies that most of us can scarce imagine. Taylor is learning first hand just how powerfully art heals.

For this reason, having finished my last post about Winston Churchill’s many losses and defeats, I want to share one more little known but critical piece to his story. While in the deepest pit of his life when his wife said “I thought he would die of grief,” Churchill discovered that art heals. Paul Johnson writes:

At this moment, providence intervened. By pure chance, his sister-in-law “Goonie” Churchill was painting in watercolor in the garden of Hoe Farm in Surrey, which they had rented jointly. Churchill: “I would like to do that.” She lent him her paints and soon, ambitious as always, he sent for oils and canvases. He loved it. The Scots-Irish master Sir John Lavery, a neighbor, took him in hand, and his dashing wife, Hazel, also a painter, gave him excellent advice. “Don’t hesitate. Dash straight at it. Pile on the paint. Have a go!” He did, with growing relish. He discovered, as other sensible people have done, that painting is not only the best of hobbies but a sure refuge in a time of trouble, for while you are painting you can think of nothing else. Soon misery began to retreat. his mind, his self-respect, his confidence were restored. (Churchill, Paul Johnson, Viking Press)

Painting continued to be a sure refuge for Churchill. He painted the rest of his life and produced a surprisingly impressive body of work.

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 30

Cover of "Churchill"
Cover of Churchill

Weeping may last through the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 30:5b (NLT)

I recently read the book Churchill, a long biographical essay on the celebrated British leader by historian Paul Johnson. Other than my passing knowledge of Churchill’s role in rallying Britain to victory in World War II, I had very little specific knowledge of his life and background and I found the book a fascinating read.

One of the many things I learned in the book was how much of Churchill’s life was framed by loss and defeat. Churchill suffered critical political setbacks that would have ruined most men. He was criticized, diminished, and made a scapegoat. As Adolph Hitler rose to power and built the Nazi war machine, Churchill became a lone voice in the wilderness to the loud pacifist ideals of the day. He never gave up, however, and when the fate of the nation hung in the balance he became the one man with enough “blood, toil, tears, and sweat” to save the nation and, in so doing, the world from Nazi horrors.

I shouldn’t be surprised. Most great leaders suffer and overcome loss. God’s Message speaks again and again of the necessity of trials and suffering to produce endurance which produces character which in turn produces hope. I look back at my own journey and can see clearly how the most difficult stretches became the most critical in the process of spiritual transformation.

Today, I’m once again reminded to embrace the grief, loss and difficulties that come my way in anticipation of the joy which inevitably follows.

Tom’s 30 Day Blogging Challenge Day

Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of th...
Image via WikipediaImage via Wikipedia
Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the Unite...
Image via Wikipedia

If you could host a dinner party inviting four people from history, who would you invite and where would the party take place?

The question may seem a little redundant, but Day 2 was about dinner with those presently alive. Now I get to think about who I’d like to have join me from history. It’s tough to whittle down the list, and I imagine my answer could change if you asked me the same question an hour from now. There are others I would love to add to the list, but this morning I’m thinking of people who would make fascinating and enjoyable dinner conversation and who I imagine would enjoy one another’s company.

Unlike the grand ballroom I chose for my dinner party in Day 9, for this meal I would choose a small, unpretentious and quiet restaurant with great food and drink coupled with warm, attentive service.

My guest list would include:

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Sir Winston Churchill
  • Mark Twain
  • William Shakespeare

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