In London There Was Such a Man: Winston Churchill and the Art of Leadership

Thank you. It’s a great joy to be here with you and I want to welcome you to the Leadership Briefing, my personal welcome. I’m very glad you’re here. Governor Bevin, pray for you every day, and just a reminder to us of leadership on the front lines and how thankful we are for you, and for everyone who is here. In the Christian worldview leadership is valorized and recognized, because we understand it’s one of God’s gifts to his people. In the Old Testament, one of the worst case conditions imaginable is anarchy. And so the people of God have been trained to pray for godly leadership and to seek, and to honor godly leadership. And that also means from time to time we need to gather together to remind ourselves what that is, and what that demands of us, and what that looks like. So, in thinking about talking about leadership today, I decided to talk about an aspect of leadership that has been a focal point for me and a matter of fascination for many, many years, and that is examples of leadership, historical examples and exemplars of leadership.

And behind that is a story. And so today I’m going to talk about Winston Churchill. It’s very subtle, just considering that there are two portraits flanking me of Winston Churchill, and it reminds me by the way that Craig so kindly mentioned the birth of Benjamin. That is Benjamin Miller Barnes, our grandson, born to Katie and Riley. And it reminds me that the Winston Churchill was once shown a baby and was told the baby looks like you. And he said, all newborn babies look like me, and it is stunningly true by the way, but the title of my remarks is “In London There Was Such a Man, Winston Churchill and the Art of Leadership.” One of the difficulties in talking about leadership is even defining it. And that’s why when I wrote the book The Conviction to Lead, I actually thought one of the most important things I can do is to define leadership.

Many people write about leadership, they never define it. So I define leadership as, “Conviction translated into influence that changes lives.” And it has to begin with conviction. That’s my understanding of leadership as revealed in scripture and as I think also revealed in the greatest leaders of human history, they’ve been convictional leaders. They’ve been driven by convictions that have driven them, and they have been able to translate that into influence that would change lives and shape the lives of others. But what does that look like? Well just consider how much of our headline driven 24-hour news cycle right now is really monomaniacally focused on questions of leadership. It isn’t always expressed that way or phrased that way, but that’s exactly what’s going on.

We are looking at a culture, we’re looking at voters, who are having to make decisions about what kind of leader that we want, what kind of leader we should seek. Questions: “Are leaders made or born?” The answer to that, by the way, is both. You can’t make ’em if they’re not born, but it is also true that there are some you can just pick out in the crib, as having at least leadership potential, and you can certainly pick them out when you see them at preschool. But on the other hand, there is also a sense in which leaders are made. Sometimes they’re made by instruction and other times they’re made by experience, and the crucible of having to lead, Is leadership an art or science? Again, it’s both.

It’s probably however more art than science and I mean that in order to say that even though there are principles of leadership, insights of leadership, there are certain structures of leadership. The reality is it’s far more art than science, which is one of the reasons why it’s difficult immediately to communicate or to define. Learning leadership by example is I think one of the most enduring principles of growing as a leader and thinking as a leader. So from time to time there are these management fads that go around leadership fads like “management by walking around” and by the way, we should be perhaps humbled by the fact that that appeared to be a genuine insight to people. Evidently walking around and being visible and seeing things is important to leadership as if you had to be told that.

But leadership by historical example isn’t a fad. This is actually how leadership was mostly taught and where the formation of leaders is mostly addressed. It goes back to the British Empire, as a matter of fact, when you think about Winston Churchill, as we will in just a moment, when he was entering what we would call grade school, he had already been instructed in the great stories of the heroes of the British Empire and by the time he was reading the books he was assigned in school to read, even as he was learning the actual science of reading, the process of reading, they were books that included these examples of leadership, and this continued on through.

When I was 13 years old, my eighth grade teacher announced that we would have an assignment to write an essay on a great historical figure, and I can still remember the teacher said we would have about a week to think about this and we could propose the historical leader about whom we wanted to write. And I can remember passing her desk and I simply said, I want to write on Winston Churchill. Now as I’m looking to you today, I have to tell you I have no idea exactly why I said that You can’t go back exactly into your 13-year-old mind and imagine what you were thinking.

But I know one of the things I was thinking. I was given as a boy by my paternal grandmother, every year, a subscription to National Geographic, which I wanted to see mostly for the space, race and sharks and snakes. It was the three S’s, space, sharks, snakes, that was it. By the way, this was during the era in which National Geographic arrived wrapped. Do you remember how it wrapped? It had that partial wrap around it and I was not allowed to unwrap that National Geographic until my mother had surveyed the magazine for its anthropological content. And so she would do that, and so I could have the space and the snakes and the sharks. I couldn’t have some of the other things that had been in that magazine, but nonetheless. One issue of that magazine came and it was when the magazine was still in black and white, and its front cover story was the funeral of Winston Churchill.

Now funerals tells a great deal. This may tell you more about myself than you want to know or would want to know, but two or three or four times a year, I watch the entire funeral service of Ronald Reagan. By the way, if you’ve never seen it or if you don’t remember it, it’s all on YouTube and just to watch that entire funeral service of the National Cathedral, and watch it from beginning to end, you just haven’t seen it all until the casket has been brought out to the refrain of “the mansions of the Lord,” and just before it is put into the hearse, the marine band plays “Hail to the Chief” for the last time, you just see that and you go, oh my goodness, this is a moment of consequence. Well, here’s a moment of consequence. This was given to me by a friend at Christmas.

How about a headline like that? Now let me tell you what’s significant about that and this is January 24th, 1965, but what’s significant about that headline is that it is not a British newspaper. This is the San Jose Mercury News in California. What does it tell you, that a daily newspaper in San Jose, California in January of 1965 would run the biggest headline since the headline of the end of World War II in that newspaper when a retired British prime minister had died tells you that this was a man who shaped the world. That funeral service for Churchill that was portrayed in National Geographic Magazine, it had my attention because as a young boy, I couldn’t imagine exactly how a life could be lived that would apparently be so consequential. I saw the pictures of the cranes on the Thames bowing down as the funeral barge went by. I saw the—relatively young then—Queen Elizabeth standing on the steps of the cathedral, the first reigning monarch ever in the history of Britain to attend the funeral of a non-royal. It’s an amazing thing. I wanted to know why.

We have not the opportunity to know Winston Churchill, it frustrates me at times. I would love to have known him. frustrates with students too. I have a handwritten note from Winston Churchill that I was able to obtain from 1955, and it’s framed on the wall and that is a great, great item of my joy. That is also my potential frustration because I have students over and they look up and say, was it written to you? Please! I wasn’t even born yet, but nonetheless, no. We don’t get to know Winston Churchill by knowing and observing him. Some of you may have memories of seeing him, but we do have access to him by history and by historical biography.

People ask me all the time, what’s the best biography of Winston Churchill? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for. The British empire itself authorized this massive 13 volume biography of Churchill begun by his son Randolph Churchill and concluded by the great historian Martin Gilbert, but it is dry as dust. It tells you everything he did every day and even when it comes to Winston Churchill, you really don’t want to know everything he did every minute of the day. What you do want is William Manchester’s two volumes, the last lion, and by the way, he died before that could be completed. Paul Reed completed the third volume. It’s worth reading, but it’s not like the first two to get to the point. Winston Churchill’s leadership, I think is best encapsulated by William Manchester in his introduction to the Last Lion, when he describes the horrifying situation in which Britain had fallen, with Hitler’s rise and with the fact that successive decades of British denial, to which Churchill was often the lonely exception, had allowed the militarization of Germany and allowed Germany’s rise eventually to invade not only Czechoslovakia but Poland leading to the second World war. Manchester’s magnificent prose includes this,

“The French had collapsed, the Dutch had been overwhelmed, the Belgians had surrendered. The British army trapped, fought free and fell back towards the channel ports converging on a fishing town whose name was then spelled Dunkirk. It was England’s greatest crisis since the Norman Conquest vaster than those precipitated by Philip II’s, Spanish Armada, Louis XIV’s triumphant armies, or Napoleon’s invasion barges Maed Boone. This time Britain stood alone. If the Germans crossed the channel and established uncontested beachheads, all would be lost. For it is a particularity of England’s island that its southern wield is indefensible against discipline troops. Now the 220,000 Tommys at Dunkirk, Britain’s only hope seemed doomed. On the Flanders beaches, they stood around in angular existential attitudes like dim purgatorial souls, awaiting disposition. There appeared to be no way to bring more than a handful of them home. The Royal Navy’s vessels were inadequate. King George the sixth had been told that they will be to save 17,000. The House of Commons was warned to prepare for hard and heavy tidings. Then from the streams and estuaries of Kent and Dover, a strange fleet appeared, trawlers and tugs, scowls and fishing, sloops, lifeboats and pleasure craft smacks and coasters, the island ferry gland, fields, Tom Sowe, American Cup, challenger endeavor, even the London fire brigades free float Massey Shaw, all of them manned by civilian volunteers, English fathers sailing to rescue, England’s exhausted bleeding sons.”

Even today, what followed seems miraculous. He goes on to speak about how the British people, as we will see, largely because of a new prime minister, Winston Churchill, had been given courage to do what no one believed they could do. Then Manchester writes,

“Now in this new exigency, confronted by the mightiest conqueror Europe had ever known England looked for another Alfred, a figure cast in a mold which by the time of the Dunkirk deliverance seemed to have been forever lost. England’s new leader were he to prevail, would have to stand for everything. England’s decent civilized establishment had rejected. They viewed Adolf Hitler as the product of complex social and historical forces. Their successor would have to be a passionate Manichean who saw the world as a medieval struggle to the death between the powers of good and the powers of evil. Who held that individuals are responsible for their actions and that the German dictator was therefore wicked. A believer in Marshall Glory was required, one who saw splendor in the ancient parades of victorious legions through Persepolis and who could rally the nation to brave the coming German fury. An embodiment of fading Victorian standards was wanted, a tribune for honor, loyalty, duty, in the supreme virtue of action, one who would never compromise with iniquity, who would create a sublime mood, and thus give men heroic visions of what they were, and might become.

Like Adolf Hitler he would have to be a leader of intuitive genius, a born demagogue in the original sense of the word, a believer in the supremacy of his people and his national destiny. An artist who knew how to gather the blazing light of history into his prism, and then distort it to his ends. An embodiment of inflexible resolution who could impose his will, and his imagination, on his people a great tragedy, and who understood the appeal to martyrdom and could tell his followers the worst, hurling it to them like great chunks of bleeding meat, persuading them that the year of Dunkirk would be one in which it was equally good to live or to die. Who could if necessary be just as cruel, just as cunning, and just as ruthless as Hitler, but who would win victories without enslaving populations, or preaching supernaturalism, or foisting off myths of his infallibility or destroying or even warping the libertarian institutions he had sworn to preserve. Such a man, “wrote Manchester. If he existed, would be England’s last chance.”

If you’ve read it, you know that there the paragraph ends. The next paragraph is a single sentence.

In London, there was such a man and there was such a man and he did come out of a vacuum. Winston Churchill was the greatest Britain of the 20th century and perhaps of all time. Interestingly, when the British people are asked this question, they still answer Winston Churchill more than any king, more than any queen, they point back to Winston Churchill. He was born in the year 1874, died in 1965. Just consider that span of history. As he said, he entered parliament under one queen, Victoria, ended his second term as prime minister under another queen, Elizabeth II. And between them no less than six kings, it’s an amazing story.


Born in splendor in Glenham palace. He was the first son of the second son of the Duke of Marlborough. He was born into Marshall Glory because John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, had been one of England’s greatest generals. His childhood was extremely sad. Winston Churchill’s parents by all accounts did not love him, and he emerged from the crucible of an unloved childhood. He went to abusive schools where the elite sons of England were sent and there he did extremely poorly. As a matter of fact, I brought just as evidence two of his report cards. Now here’s your worst nightmare. Somebody put your report cards—these are from 1883 and 1881—on the internet, your own people. In the fourth form, excuse me, the equivalent, our fourth grade that is. Under diligence, it says, his conduct has been exceedingly bad. He’s not to be trusted to do any one thing. He has, however, notwithstanding, made, decided progress. I don’t know what you do with that. The geography is “very good, especially history.” Writing and spelling “very much improved.” Drawing, “fair considering” I have no idea what to do with that either. Under “general conduct,” very bad. He is a constant trouble to everybody and is always in one scrape or another. Did things improve? No. Two years later, his composition “very feeble,” his grammar improving, but diligence, “does not quite understand the meaning of hard work.” And then it says under his writing, it is good but so terribly slow. His spelling is “about as bad as can be.” The man would go on to win the Nobel Prize for literature. This may encourage you about your children or grandchildren, or about yourselves.

He was destined—his own father thought—for being marginal in history, a great disappointment his father thought he was destined to be. He got into Sandhurst, the British Military Academy, but made it into the bottom ranks and ended up in the cavalry where back then at Sandhurst you actually had to bring your own horse in order to serve in the cavalry. His father thought it was so useless, there was no sense in even investing in the horse, but he did. Lord Randolph Churchill, you may remember, became a very prominent, rising, British politician himself became Chancellor of the Exchequer, our equivalent of our Secretary of the Treasury, but with more authority and had married Jennie Jerome, the daughter of an American. Churchill’s mother was an American, and she was married for her wealth, since the Churchills had begun to run out of money.

If you’ve seen Downtown Abbey, you know exactly what’s going on here. But in any event, Winston Churchill lived to fight in the very last cavalry charge of the British army in Sudan. And of course he lived to be prime minister in the nuclear age. He went where the battle was and it’s very fascinating to see how much he fought to actually be where the battle was. He wasn’t trying to avoid battle, he was trying to get into it and when he got into it, he fulfilled multiple roles that could not be possible now. He both was a soldier and a journalist about the war, which during that time no one thought that was very unusual.

Churchill actually built his fortune such as it was, and it was a fortune, he just went through it. A new book came out just in the last few weeks on Churchill’s extravagance. This was a man who just could not imagine not having. It is estimated that he drank himself, and for a Baptist this isn’t a matter of respect just a matter of awe, it is estimated that he personally drank 20,000 gallons of champagne. And I don’t know what to do with that except to say that’s a lot and it’s estimated that he smoked over 170,000 cigars in his lifetime. But by the way, for Churchill, what it meant to do without, was to cut back from eight to four cigars a day, which is one of his biographers noted, lasted less than a day.

First World War, of course, he was known to everyone, but in the British Empire, he became known during the Boer War in South Africa where he was taken as a prisoner and famously escaped. The man was incredible in terms of his courage and his daring. He escaped and then of course wrote a book about his escape. And having written a book about his own escape, which was well attested by historical figures, he became very famous, was elected parliament. His father had resigned for parliament In huge embarrassment, Churchill wants to resurrect the name, goes back into parliament. In the first World War. He becomes one of the youngest first lords of the admiralty. He becomes the civilian commander of the British Navy, which he was there for five years, much of it in glory, but he ended that in huge inglorious failure with the Gallipoli invasion that was not all his fault, but was his idea. But Churchill was not phased even after his humiliation of having to resign as First Lord of the Admiralty and being blamed, unfairly, but nonetheless publicly blamed for one of England’s greatest failures. He becomes an officer and goes into the trenches in World War I, something that young men of his class hardly ever did. Not to mention a member of parliament who had been First Lord of the Admiralty and he earned the respect of his men there.

After World War I, he goes back into parliament and then he enters the wilderness years. And most of you’re familiar with the fact that it was Churchill who understood Churchill was such a student of history. He had written to his mother to write him and to send him books when he was in the trenches. All those years in the army, he was reading history and whether it was Gibbons Rise and Fall, the fall of the Roman Empire or McCauley’s history. He was reading all of this. He just read History began to live history. And thus when Adolf Hitler arrived on the scene, he knew who Hitler was. He knew of Genghis Khan, he knew of Alexander the Great and he knew when he saw Hitler rise, what Hitler represented.

He also understood military might. Winston Churchill, by the way in the history of military, is credited with largely inventing the tank. Someone may have had the idea before, but it was Churchill who actually began to consider how this might be manufactured to become a major instrument of war. But during these wilderness years, he was dismissed by his own party. He was an embarrassment to his own party. He would look at the seizure of the Rhineland and the militarization of Germany and he would actually go to Germany and he would observe the military buildup. He would come back and, successive Tory governments his own party, by the way he was a Tory, then became a liberal, a Tory again in his history. That’s a long parliamentary career, but it would be the equivalent of being a member of a Republican cabinet, then a member of a Democratic cabinet, then coming back to become a Republican president. In Britain It’s called a rat when you change parties. And Churchill said that he would go down in history, not only as one who ratted, but as one who re-ratted, but all as he saw it as a matter of principle.

But the wilderness years actually tragically, horrifyingly, proved Churchill to be right. And with the fall of the Chamberlain government and the invasion of Poland, eventually they had to turn to bring Churchill, first of all back into the cabinet before the Chamberlain government had completely collapsed. He came back as First Lord of the Admiralty a second time. And if you know the story, it’s absolutely fantastic. Churchill receives a call. He’s been offered the post, as First Lord of the Admiralty again. So this is a generation after he had the job and he lost it. And in a new world war that he had warned about, he is now Lord of the Admiralty.

He walks into Admiralty house and there’s a young naval ache who turns to him and says he’s holding a cable. And Winston Churchill says, I am the New Sea Lord. What is the cable? And the young man’s a bit embarrassed and Churchill as Sea Lord said, hand me the cable. And he looked at the cable and it simply had been sent to every British ship of war. Two words, “Winston’s back” and Churchill famously took the telegram crumpled in his hand and said, “and so he is,” and he walked right into Admiralty House and got right to work in the middle of the night. And then with the fall of the chamber of government, he was called as prime minister. And so the man who had been in the wilderness whose father had resigned in horrifying embarrassment, whose ancestor was the first Duke of Marlboro, he enters into the premiership as prime minister of England.

But as Manchester said, this is the worst possible time. This is the worst possible time everyone expected to fail. One of the things that has become clearer to us now is that Franklin Roosevelt as president of the United States, really believed that Britain was most likely to fall, and that Churchill was most likely to fail. Now they developed a very close relationship and a very close friendship, not an unwary friendship, but a very close friendship. And Churchill credited the United States with keeping Britain alive through Lend-Lease and other means. Churchill’s nemesis and Roosevelt’s eventual nemesis, was the man who had been the U.S. ambassador to the court of St. James, the US ambassador to England during this time. His name was Joseph P. Kennedy, another name that will come up again, but who had been an appeaser, as had Edward Halifax and so many others. He served as prime minister first from ‘40 to ‘45, won the war. Secondly from ‘51 to ’55. He retired 1964, died in 1965.

Very quickly, 10 things to learn from Winston Churchill.

First of all, a sense of destiny. Churchill believed even as a little boy, unloved by his parents and doing horrifyingly horrible in school, he believed he was a person to destiny. How do you look at a little boy who’s 10 or 11 years old and know what he’s going to become? The folks who looked at Winston Churchill as a 10-year-old boy thought that he was going to be a huge humiliation. The man would go on to become a painter who painted more paintings than almost any living painter of his day, it is estimated 5,000 paintings. The boy who couldn’t spell went on to win the Nobel Prize for literature. Amongst the things most people think of Winston Churchill, they don’t remember. He won the Nobel Prize for literature.

This is a man who defeated Hitler after having prophetically identified the threat of Nazi Germany. And this is a man who largely as Manchester understood, defeated Hitler for months that bled into years, with nothing but words.

Second thing is that Churchill, we learned, was a man of core convictions. Again, it was convictional leadership. Winston Churchill, just as Manchester said in that passage, Winston Churchill didn’t believe that Hitler was not so good. He didn’t believe that Hitler was a threat to liberty and democracy. He believed that Hitler was undiluted evil and those core convictions about right and wrong, good and evil, justice and righteousness, a core conviction that included democracy and liberty, which he would credit almost entirely to the British empire, to the Magna Carta and all that would flow. He understood that all of this was opposed at its most foundational level, and he also understood that it could be snuffed out by a foe like Hitler if it was not met with an even greater resolve.

Third, Churchill was driven by a moral vision. That right and wrong was for Churchill so fundamental that he was a Manichean. He really did see the world in terms of black and white. Now it’s true that he could work with people that weren’t in absolute agreement with him. And in fact, the war cabinet that he created, once the nation turned to him, included members of both parties. But what Churchill would not allow is moral equivocation. Not when you’re facing a foe like Hitler, not when you’re looking at a challenge like Nazism. Now for that reason, Churchill was not a phenomenally successful peacetime leader because he saw everything in black and white. And when it comes to some issues, it’s not quite so easy to see it that way. But the most crucial thing is that when history demanded someone who really understood right and wrong, good and evil, Churchill was there for courage and tenacity.

I can’t imagine it. The more I look at Churchill, the more I can’t imagine any human being holding on as he held on. When everyone opposed him when he was out of power, when he had been by all effects, all intents and purposes, he had been humiliated, but he just stayed in there. He was once asked about tenacity and he simply said, I don’t know how to do anything else. Just holding on. And of course he would be vindicated. And he also was willing to be right even if he were never vindicated. One of the saddest things about Churchill’s life is that he died with his father believing that it was Churchill, the son, who would be the great failure. There’s actually a play called Churchill’s Dream, which is actually rooted in fact, Churchill had a horrifying dream later in life in which his dead father came to visit him and his father berated him when Churchill was an old man for never having achieved anything and Churchill in his dream wants to tell his father what he has done. Twice Prime Minister, Nobel Prize for literature, saved Western civilization. But as Churchill begins to say the word “but,” his father disappears. Just think about that, how that would haunt a man. But his tenacity was learned early in life. He may have been unloved by his parents, but he was determined nonetheless to hold on.

Fifth, willingness to stand alone. That’s a part of it. But when we mean alone, we mean alone. At one point, during those wilderness years, politicians of his own party who would be seen in public with Churchill, or were even known to have visited him at Chartwell, they found their political position endangered in the cabinet just for having a conversation with Winston Churchill. And he was told he was alone, and he was glad to stand alone. He did have his animals. He had pigs at Chartwell. He explained this one time as his therapy. He said, dogs, look up at you. Cats. Look down at you pigs look at you straight as an equal. A willingness to stand alone meant that Churchill was ready to stand alone. When Churchill alone with a microphone was all that England had.

Six, love of life. This is the other side of that. The other side of it is that Churchill found a way to enjoy life in the midst of the most horrifying human struggle we could imagine. He found moments of enjoyment. He was a man of constant wit and time doesn’t allow the examples of that wit and his joy of life. He was ebullient in the midst of all of this. He would eat well when the world was unwell, and he would be a source of convivial friendship.

Seventh, the power of reading. Churchill himself said, if you want to know how I came to know of history, and the potentials of leadership,, and of the patterns of history is because he read and he read and he read and he kept on reading to the very end of his life.

But that bleeds into eighth the power of writing. Most famously, Churchill was once asked if he expected history to treat him well and he said, of course I do because I intend to write it. And he did. He did. He was the most prolific journalist of his day on either side of the Atlantic, and thus he kept telling the story. He wrote a multi-volume biography of his ancestor, Marlborough, a multi-volume biography of his father, Lord Randolph. And of course he wrote a multi-volume history of the First World War and then of the Second World War because he wanted to make sure the story was told aright. And then a multi-volume, history of the English speaking peoples for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize.

Ninth, the power of speaking. Churchill understood the power of words and Churchill understood that for a leader in politics, in government, in education, in the church, in the home, anywhere, a leader has to communicate by the formation of words, spoken words. And even as he understood the power of the written word, Churchill’s leadership was translated more than anything else into oratory. And you’re familiar with much of that. You come to understand how central it was.

10th, a sense of drama, not melodrama drama. Two different things for leadership. Melodrama is very self-centered and emotional in terms of what effect is sought. Churchill’s sense of drama was the same kind of sense of drama the FDR had when in the midst of the depression, FDR would smile and put that cigarette in his mouth with its holder and put that Johnny look on his face and tilt his hat. That was a sense of drama. He understood how to do it. Roosevelt understood after December the seventh, 1941, exactly how he should enter into the House of Representatives chamber before a joint session of Congress to ask for war. He knew exactly how to look out and pause and wait for people to hear him say what they knew he had to say. Similarly, Churchill was the same way.

I have two oil portraits. I’m glad to have a Winston Churchill here with me today. And the one on this side is a portrait. It was originally done by Graham Sutherland famously hangs in the Houses of Parliament, the original it’s a good deal larger than that in the original, it’s the old man Churchill. This is Churchill’s favorite painting of himself, obviously a reproduction. And that is the one that now hangs in Buckingham Palace and is owned by the Queen. That shows Churchill as a member of the Order of the Garter, which just for a boy raised to read McCauley and raised in the history of the British Empire, that was for Churchill, his moment of peace having achieved the recognition of what he had done.

Churchill’s words famously, by the way, Americans generally mess this up saying, he said, “never give up, never give up, never give up.” He didn’t say that. That’s not British. British would say never give in. He went to his own school Harrow and said, this is the lesson he spoke to boys, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never. And nothing great or small, larger petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense, never yield to force, never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” One point he said, “you have enemies good. That means you stood up for something sometime in your life.” I love that. Reminds me of the Baptist preacher, RG Lee, famed pastor in Memphis for so many years and just before he died he spoke to someone. He said, “If at my funeral you say, I never had an enemy, I’m going to pray that God will give me life to come back and say, “You’re one now.’” No man who ever was worth anything dies without enemies, If he stands for truth, Churchill’s moral insight can be distilled into words in amazing ways. During the years of appeasement, Churchill said, “an appeaser is like one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last.”

And then during the war you say, what did his words do? Well just consider this. This is all Britain had. “You ask, what is our policy? I will say it is to wage war by sea, land and air with all our might and with all the strength God can give us to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark lamentable catalog of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I answer with one word, victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be for without victory there is no survival. We will not flag or fail. He said We will go on to the end. We shall fight in France. We shall fight on the seas and in the oceans. We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island. Whatever the cost may be, we will fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields and on the streets. We shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.” Churchill began the war with the threat of Operation Sea Lion, Hitler’s very well drawn plans to invade England, looking like it was inevitable and would be inevitably successful. Churchill fought back with words and began as prime minister with the absolute unconditional pledge that he would be satisfied with nothing, but Hitler’s absolute surrender.

He always had a bon mot he always knew how to respond. Most of you probably know when in a moment he was found—somewhat inebriated—by one of his very liberal opponents who had also been born an American and had become a member of the British Parliament. She said to Churchill, you’re drunk. He said to her, I may be drunk but you’re ugly. He said, “I may be drunk miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly.”

Explaining that is probably one of the things he said about how to give a speech. He said, if you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver, hit the point once, then come back and hit it again, then hit it a third time with a tremendous whack. Finally, I want to show you something. This came to me just about a year ago. It was a man who had heard me speak, but had never met me, and it is a man whose father was a member of the British Parliament.

He said, I have something I want to put in your hands. This is a very aged man in another country. He called me, reached me by phone and said, I want to entrust this to you, if you will pledge to be a good steward of it. I really didn’t know what he was sending me, but I sensed it was important and through an intermediary in Germany, I’d been told to expect the call and to understand what was at stake. It’s a thin little volume you see here. It’s beautiful. You’ll notice the guilt and leather binding. These are Winston Churchill’s secret speeches delivered to the House of Parliament, under the conditions of war. Churchill never expected them to see the light of day. They were delivered only to parliament. Included in this is one of Churchill’s manuscripts, and there you can see how Churchill spoke off of a manuscript looked just like this, and you see how he underlined, even changed at the last minute, what he wanted to say. Churchill once said, the best extemporaneous speeches are the ones I practice the most.

This particular manuscript talks, well Churchill speaking to Parliament, about how to deal with the Americans without whom they can’t survive. He says “the attitude of the United States,” here, he says, “nothing will stir them like fighting in England no good suggesting that we are down and out. The heroic struggle of Britain is the best chance of bringing them in.” And he did. Of course, Japan helped. But by the time long before December the seventh, 1941, America was in the war in terms of arming Britain, and it made all the difference. So why do I show you this? It’s an incredibly rare volume. I draw moral strength just by holding it and imagining what it meant to hear these speeches, under the conditions of the worst months of the war, with Churchill trying to lead parliament and conditions of state secrecy, just how to understand these things.

But the man who sent it to me, he mentioned something. This had belonged to his father. By the way, there is a personal letter. There’s a personal note in here from Churchill to the man, and a letter from Churchill’s personal private secretary explaining the circumstances of the Prime Minister’s signature and note. But here’s the thing. The man who had been a member of parliament, who had owned these speeches and had them bound, had this to say, and I leave you with this, “It makes all the difference in the world that in 1947, Winston Churchill’s secret speeches to parliament were bound in leather and leather and in gilt in Berlin rather than Adolf Hitler’s speeches being bound in London.” I love the way Manchester writes that introduction “In London.” There was such a man in one way or another by God’s grace for his glory for one arena or another.

In one year and moment or another, there will be a moment when we will have to be that man or that woman. May it be so thank you so very much for joining us today.