Do you know you can make your name great?
George Washington Carver was a prominent African-American scientist and inventor born into slavery in Diamond, Missouri, around 1864. His name will continue to make history because of his great deeds. Carver is best known for the many uses he devised for the peanut. Despite his predicament and background, Carver went on to become one of the most prominent scientists and inventors of his time, as well as a teacher at the Tuskegee Institute. Carver devised over 100 products using one of these crops—the peanut—including dyes, plastics and gasoline. When asked in the parliament how he made such a discovery, he made reference to the Holy Bible as his secret. He died in 1943.
Great names are not predicated on background, riches or inheritance, but only on the basis of courage and leadership. Names are given to everyone by birth, but a name can only be remembered for great deeds and the level of responsibility accorded to it when pronounced. Just like Carver, whenever his name is mentioned, we immediately remember his great achievement with the peanut. The truth remains that the concept of name isn’t a human idea, but originated from the beginning of creation. The concept of name is about relationship, because when man was created there was a bond covenant between him and his creator. And that was the basis on which God related with man. This concept is still maintained to date.
Talking about great names, many years ago there were three young Hebrew men named Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. They were captured into slavery by the then world power, Babylon, whose king at that time was Nebuchadnezzar (reigned c. 605 BC – 562 BC). These young men knew that beyond their names were principles, beliefs and convictions that they stood for. They were not ready to change their convictions despite being in captivity. Just like Carver, these three young men exhibited an unusual trait of leadership in the face of captivity. Leadership without convictions tends to lower the standard. Leaders are passionate people full of conviction and are ready to die for the cause they believe in. No wonder after such leaders are gone the world still celebrates them. And their names are usually engraved in the sands of time. What King Nebuchadnezzar did was to change the names of the Hebrew young men, thinking they were going to forget who they were and what they represented. He changed their names. He called Hananiah “Shadrach”, Mishael “Meshach” and Azariah “Abednego.”
Isn’t it amazing that people today define themselves by their captivity? They easily forget who they are because of harsh economic situations, unemployment, and other forms of hardship that could represent captivity. In such situations, the leadership of most people is usually questioned. For instance, a young man who has searched for employment for more than five years and on getting a job in a public sector grows to become corrupt because he wants to amass wealth, such a person cannot be referred to as a leader and cannot make a great name.
King Nebuchadnezzar thought changing the names of the Hebrew young men will change their identity and status. Whether a slave or a freeborn, a true leader is not constrained by his background or his situation. These three Hebrew young men were not the only Hebrews held in slavery in that land, but every other Jew at that time lived in fear and had their identities defined by their slavery.
The King had an engraved golden image which he commanded the people to worship, but the three Hebrew young men refused to bow and worship the image. They were sure of their convictions. They were punished by being cast into a fiery furnace because they refused to bow to the golden image. They didn’t die because they were eventually rescued by a supernatural presence. Today, their story is recorded in the Jewish history books. The story of these men, from George Washington Carver to the three Hebrew young men, is similar. They had three things in common. They were:
Conscious of the covenant:
Everyone belongs to a covenant, but there is a greater covenant that God offered us when he came to redeem man from the curse of the fall from the beginning of creation. Everyone who belongs to this covenant has supernatural support and can rest assured that no matter what the prevailing circumstance is, there will always be a way of escape. Carver was given divine insight into the peanut and what can be derived from it. That transcends beyond the natural. And most times we need to transcend beyond the natural to do the extraordinary. Leadership is a form of covenant, but anyone who doesn’t belong to a covenant with his God cannot be a good leader. Joseph Prince a clergyman puts it this way “God doesn’t want us to have rigid rituals with Him. In the new covenant, He is more interested in having a relationship with us.”
Sure of convictions:
For a leader, it is not good when he conscripts people to believe in a cause. It is better to personally believe in your vision. The three Hebrew young men were so sure of their belief. Their response to the king said it all after he told them to worship the golden image; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.” This response for a leader is a confirmation of the conviction of someone who is ready to die for what he believes in.
Ready to offer a life of Service:
Caver’s intention when he was making his discovery wasn’t to show off or be recognised, but to better the lives of humanity. One of the banes of human existence is the proliferation of men and women who consider leadership as an end in itself, a reward, a throne to be occupied with others at their beck and call. That is a wrong premise; leadership is a call to service. Leadership implies having the understanding that the welfare of everyone is your primary concern. Just like Carver did, his single research on peanuts revived the economy of North America, during his time.
Likewise, today, if you follow the same path these men followed, you will make an impact and your name will be recorded in the sands of time.
“You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.”– Henry David Thoreau