Nelson Mandela: A Mercy Leader

Tonight the world lost a towering statesman.

In a world replete with tin man politicians, the death of even one statesman impoverishes us all.

Tomorrow the mindless babel that we call the press will shove the petty quarrels of mankind and their trivial triumphs to the second page and invest myriad words in celebrating the life of a man who changed history.

Against that outpouring of finely crafted words by those who knew him well or studied him deeply, I yet dare to add a simple homage that will surely be overlooked by most.

Nelson Mandela was crafted by God with infinite precision.  He was designed with the redemptive gift of Mercy, placed in a Ruler tribe, orphaned early and taken to grow up in the shadow of a great tribal leader who modeled government for him on a smaller scale.

All this was part of God’s grand design to lead a suffering nation through an unparalleled transition.

In the Sapphire culture, the Mercy gift is so often feminized.  Against that unfortunate misperception, Nelson Mandela stands tall as a very male Mercy, who took manhood to staggering levels in the eyes of the entire world without ever compromising his core design — the Mercy gift.

I recommend his autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom”.  If you know a male Mercy, you should read this book — several times — or listen to the audio version if you are not a reader.

A hundred vignettes teach us much about what it takes to grow a world class Mercy man.

There is one that captures for me the essence of the finely honed male Mercy.

His release from captivity went by stages, leaving Robben Island and eventually being taken in triumph to Cape Town to address the masses with his unequivocal demand of one man, one vote.  Nothing less.

That final day, when he knew he would be released, he asked that the wives of the prison guards be present for his release.

Now ponder the big picture.

The eyes of the world were going to be on the man who had been hidden for a quarter of a century.  He would be making a speech that would be broadcast around the globe.  The political pundits were absolutely certain that his release and the subsequent election would unleash a blood bath of epic proportions.

All this he knew.

All this he was taking into account.

All this was factored in to his decision to not present a conciliatory face to the White government that had freed him, but to throw down the gauntlet in front of the entire world, unbowed by pain of the past or fear of the future.

And yet . . .

. . . two hours before the lion roared in Cape Town, this Mercy leader took the time to speak gently to the fearful wives of his White guards and to personally assure them that there would never be any vindictive action taken against their husbands once he was in power.

What tenderness!

What vast capacity to feel the nuances of pain in a cluster of people fairly peripheral to his main pathway.

What exquisite manhood, in the Mercy key of music.

And now the world takes a step back and watches with respect while South Africa grieves the loss of their father, and celebrates his great life and historic legacy.

The world is a better place because God choose a very male Mercy to show us what that gift could be.

Copyright December 2013 by Arthur Burk

With tears and awe; grateful to have lived the same era as this giant

This entry was posted in Perspectives, The Culture, The Redemptive Gifts of Individuals. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Nelson Mandela: A Mercy Leader

  1. Sonia says:

    Did Nelson Mandela’s release coincide with the change in seasons, from Ruler to Mercy?

  2. eva says:

    I consider Nelson Mandela to be one of the most eloquent leaders of our time. The gift of mercy is not a gift that is valued by the masses and sometimes not even by the Body-Of-Christ. He has left us an “indeed legacy.”

  3. Paul Spuler says:

    Arthur, so beautifully expressed! Amidst the myriad of tributes written, this is the finest I’ve read. You have waxed eloquent (once again) my brother! I especially appreciated your focus on his MERCY gift, for I too am mercy focused and it is so often seen as weakness. What a role model Mandela becomes who epitomized such strength!

  4. Mary-Anne Simpson says:

    Hamba Khahle Tata, even the clouds are weeping today, but as you brought tears of reconciliation to heal a nation, so the rains will nourish the soil of our beloved South Africa and you will live on in our hearts and attitudes.

  5. Nico says:

    Mandela walked on the Damascus road…

    A ‘terrorist’, caught and sent to prison. In prison his life’s purpose was brought to the front. When leaving prison, he was not a harbinger of revenge, but a warrior for God’s purpose. A Nobel Peace laureate.

    Through God’s powerful design of this man, He saved our country from a brutal and bloody civil war and shook the foundations of the enemy’s fortresses in South Africa.

    May his memory, the legacy of his ideals and foundations of equality for all, be the continued stem from which South Africans continue to walk to freedom…

    • Dianne says:

      I so agree but weep for the fact that those who came after must have grieved him deeply.

      • SLG says:

        True. He was a giant in his own right, but due to the years in prison, he was not able to replicated himself in the generation and leave a legacy of giants.

  6. Tracy-Lee says:

    Thank you, Arthur, for a beautiful tribute to our leader.

  7. Nerina says:

    Thank you. In my world of a 2 year and 4 year old, I completely missed the news. I only read about Mandela here on your page. My heart is pounding as the sadness rolls over me. Our world have truly lost a giant. I so thank God for His wisdom and hand on this nation, but also the world. As we say good bye to a father, may God the Father be revealed, who does not leave us as orphans.

  8. Thank you so much, Arthur. Your insights and information are deeply appreciated.

  9. Florence Kerlegan says:

    Glory to God!
    An absolute eagle in deed.
    Thank you, Arthur for your fine tribute.

  10. Grace says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post re Nelson Mandella. Appreciate & blessed by your perspective & insight.

    Sent from my iPhone


  11. nancy henry says:

    Such dignity!
    I am thinking about the significance of his duration and grace during imprisonment. He emerged with no malice or vengeance toward anyone, including God. Many of us have been, or are in one form or another of prison. He, much like Jesus, from the cross, released his offenders without pay-back. It would behoove us all to live in such a way, allowing ourselves to move into our design and destiny without the encumbrances of bitterness and judgement. He’s gone, but one by one, we can carry this excellence of character forward. The world is indeed a better place for his having lived with such dignity.

  12. ruthiespage says:

    Thank you Arthur. Amazing man and amazing Mercy Gift. I had just heard the news, and saw this. brought tears to my eyes, but joy to my heart to see what our wonderful King can do with one willing man.

  13. Kunle says:

    Yes, you are right Arthur! I am also amazed and awed at God’s precision, to put a mercy man in a ruler tribe and use him to bring healing instead of blood shed in his country with no bitterness to his oppressors. God you are awesome!

  14. I join you, Arthur, in the tears and the awe. It affected me deeply to read about someone who could endure such torment at the hands of other men and truly keep his respect for all of mankind; to extend dignity to those who had taken it from him. He did not use his power to merely turn the tables, but to promote wholeness in the nation. His departure sends a shockwave through the whole world.

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