Eric Liddell (1902-1945)
“God made me fast”.
Eric Liddell, the Scottish athlete who won the 400m gold medal at the 1924 Paris Olympics and one of the heroes of the film Chariots of Fires (1981), was one day overturned by one of his competitors at the start of a race. Discontented, he hesitated a moment to get up.Mais l’espérance ne s’arrête pas aux obstacles, elle voit au-delà d’eux le grand bien espéré, et c’est lui qu’elle vise
And with his head thrown back and his mouth wide open, Liddell starts after his competitors who have taken 20 meters ahead, catches them before the finish, triumphs, and collapses on the ground out of breath.
Hope is a joyous impulse, because it carries in itself a joy, which is not yet the joy of possession, but which is the taste of the effort where the faculty is exercised full, the joy of the research which has already found, which already, in some way, possesses in its own moment the goodness to which it aspires, the joy at last of discovery and conquest which feeds on novelty itself. Liddell, a deeply religious man, used to say, “When I run, I feel His pleasure.”
Eric Liddell was aware of his talent: “I believe that God created me for something, but He also gave me speed.” Liddell was a missionary, and as a missionary he died in China in a Japanese concentration camp in 1945. But he was also aware of his speed, a talent he had no intention of to waste. At the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, he refused to compete in the 100-meter race, which was his specialty, because the final was contested on a Sunday. But that did not stop him from training for several months to compete in other races and get the gold medal in the 400 meters after breaking the world record.
Liddell teaches us an important thing, a major characteristic of leadership: magnanimity should not be separated from humility. The more we are aware of our personal greatness, the more we must recognize that greatness is a gift from God. Magnanimity without humility is not magnanimity; it is a lie whose personal consequences can only be catastrophic.
Magnanimity is inseparable from humility. In terms of human tasks, man has the right and the duty to put his trust in himself (magnanimity), not forgetting that he holds from God the human forces in which he puts his trust (humility). The momentum of the magnanimity that engages man in his task as a man must always be accompanied by the recoil of the humility that draws him to allow him to see God beyond him. To the exaltation of man in his task must always be joined his lowering before God.
Liddell is a model of virtuous leadership in the fields of sport and religion.