Archives For Mandela

What follows is the introduction to “Pursuing Maturity” – I am looking to post different chapters as they get completed. I guarantee this book will be vibrant with illustrations. I start with one of my heroes, Nelson Mandela.

Pursuing Maturity Introduction

The Key to understanding Mandela is those 27 years in prison. The man who walked onto Robben Island in 1964 was emotional, headstrong, easily stung. The man who emerged was balanced and disciplined. I often asked him how the man who emerged from prison differed from the willful young man who had entered it. He hated this question. Finally, in exasperation one day, he said, “I came out mature.”
Richard Stengel – Managing Editor, Time Magazine

I grew up in South Africa and Nelson Mandela has been one of my heroes for many years. I personally feel a sense of gratitude to him for saving the land of my birth from becoming another Rwanda.

My formative years were spent under the heavy hand of apartheid. The ruling National Party was a brutal regime that allowed very little criticism and put down dissent with an austere and often vicious hand. They built up an impressive military, which I avoided serving in by exercising my US citizenship at the age of 18 and leaving the country. I was not willing to fight for the apartheid system and, in my mind that meant not making South Africa my future home. Many of my friends ended up in townships shooting at rioting crowds and some gave their lives fighting on South Africa’s borders with other nations.

Many of us knew the penalties of speaking up against the ruling government. The laws were carefully crafted to create an unfair advantage to the privileged white population and to control and oppress the black majority. We knew of the savage murder of Steve Biko in prison and of the terrible price other dissidents faced who tried to oppose or speak against the laws or governing systems. We also knew that South Africa had strengthened itself to withstand any outside invasion. It had developed nuclear weapons and even a strong air and naval force in addition to its massive army. It’s internal police were brutal and it seemed from inside and out to be an impenetrable regime.

So when Nelson Mandela, without the firing of a single shot, was able to bring down the apartheid government, it shook the world. From a prison cell, Mandela negotiated the conditions for a new South Africa. He transitioned from a prison to a palace and took over the leadership of a nation. There was nobody else with his stature who could have accomplished what he did and he did it because he had come to a place of “maturity”.

This book is about the benefits and rewards of pursuing a mature life. Mature people do great things for society. They also achieve a high degree of personal fulfillment. The target audience of this book is Christians and so I will draw a good bit of inspiration from the Bible. One of the greatest criticisms I hear about people of faith is that they are unbalanced and often unstable. Many believers also are not good at articulating their faith in a way that makes sense to the rest of society. Hopefully this book will inspire Christians to pursue a place of balance and wisdom, a place, like Mandela, of “maturity”.

The Key to understanding Mandela is those 27 years in prison. The man who walked onto Robben Island in 1964 was emotional, headstrong, easily stung. The man who emerged was balanced and disciplined. I often asked him how the man who emerged from prison differed from the willful young man who had entered it. He hated this question. Finally, in exasperation one day, he said, “I came out mature.”
Richard Stengel – Managing Editor, Time Magazine

The life and profound leadership of Nelson Mandela has been a huge inspiration to me. His personal discipline, his principled behavior, his refusal to embrace hatred and revenge and his profound leadership have all challenged and motivated my life. Although a US citizen, I was raised in South Africa and was in the country right before the elections that transitioned power from a white apartheid government to Mandela and the ANC. How Mandela navigated the nation peacefully through that transition is still a wonder to the world. South Africa could so easily at that time have gone the way of genocide like Rwanda and Burundi.

Mandela’s ability to bring the extremely polarized peoples of the nation together using the 1995 Rugby World Cup have been immortalized in Clint Eastwood’s masterful movie Invictus. Richard Stengel followed Mandela for more than a year working on a brilliant biography about his life. When he wrote an amazing article in Time Magazine about Mandela, the above quote jumped out at me. I had already chosen the title for my new book “Mentoring to Maturity.” Mandela epitomizes to me the fruit of a life that has come to maturity in so many areas.

In the many blogs that will hopefully follow, I want to examine the lost art of mentoring people to maturity. I want to identify the principles that under gird mentoring and to examine the practical elements or ingredients that will help people to more effectively mentor others. The goal of mentoring is to mold into the lives of people true godly character and to set individuals on a pathway to fulfilling their life’s mission.

We need to develop a generation of people who are full of conviction but not legalistic, bold but not brash, strong but yet gentle. We need multifaceted individuals who are cognizant of their callings, full of vision and purpose, able to articulate their faith and ideas while understanding and respecting the positions and perspectives of others. We need those who can intelligently express their intellect and their emotions and whose lives reflect the genuine fruit of God without hypocrisy or double mindedness.

We will examine many of these areas more fully in future blogs. Please subscribe at the blue button on the top right if you want to be notified of future postings. Please also take advantage of the free YouthBytes DVD download and viewable pieces that teach mentoring using the sport of snowboarding.