San Jose Mine, Chile—and what it takes to be a leader?

If you have watched TV news these past few days you have to be aware of the 33 men who were buried for 69 days. Those men who were mining in the San Jose Mine have become national heroes. Their tenaciousness, stamina, unity and their rescue inspired an entire nation. Can we not call it a miracle, “A God Thing”? What we are hearing now is how it will change their lives. Riches may come to some through books, motivational speaking or a TV reality show, etc. Family and friends of the miners are planning celebrations and other events.

The first miner rescued on Wednesday was Florencio Avalos. The second was Mario Sepulveda, who talked about how the experience tested his faith. MARIO SEPULVEDA (TRANSLATED): “I was with God and I was with the devil, they fought me, but God won. He took me by my best hand, the hand of God.”

The last miner out was Luis Alberto Urzua, 54, the shift foreman credited with helping the trapped miners endure 17 days in isolation before Chileans discovered the men had survived the mine collapse. “We have done what the entire world was waiting for,” he told Chilean President Sebastian Pinera immediately after his rescue. “The 70 days that we fought so hard were not in vain. We had strength, we had spirit, we wanted to fight, we wanted to fight for our families, and that was the greatest thing.” He was the one who restricted the rationing of food and supplies and helped them stay alive until help came. Said Manuel Gonzales, “I think he was a fundamental pillar that enabled them to keep discipline.”

No 24 was Jose Henriquez who had asked for 33 small Bibles to be sent to the miners so he could lead a prayer group. So far the miners have been reluctant to discuss the worst part of their ordeal. They said it was difficult to tell something to someone and expect them to understand if they had never confronted death.

Mario Gomez, at 63 was the oldest of the miners, hugged his wife and then dropped to his knees to pray with his yellow hard hat still perched on his head. It wasn’t an accident that these men survived. It required leadership, self-control, preparation and organization. This is an example that can teach each of us a lesson in what it takes to survive under unusual circumstances and the importance of leadership.

Leadership requires a mixture of natural talent, acquired skills, practice and hard work. Jesus is the perfect example for Christ leaders to follow. He selected His team, worked closely with them, teaching and training them and then they were ready.

Christians do not receive special breaks from the laws of nature or the rough and tumble arena of life. They will be hit with typical problems as well as extreme crisis. What they do have is a spiritual advantage that overcomes anything life or business can throw at them. Those who have made an all-out commitment to serve Christ have the Holy Spirit as their personal partner. Those who trust in God and His power gain greater endurance, self-control, peace and the ability to stay calm under crisis and even come out a winner. Jesus said, “Everything is possible for him who believes.” (Mark 9:23) The miners had to have that kind of faith.

America has many examples of leaders. One was George Washington who was a true leader. He didn’t order his men to fight the British or to cross the Delaware. He led them into battle and across the freezing river. Columbus didn’t raise venture capital and then send three ships to discover a way to the East. He led the crews and ships at his own peril and discovered a New World. How many streets, cities or monuments have been named after them in honor of their great leadership? Dare I ask how many streets, cities or monuments have we named after Stalin and Hitler?

Every one of us have certain leadership abilities. We may not realize what they are until we become parents. And we may not use them and become more bossy than a leader; telling someone what to do and requiring that they do it, rather than leading and encouraging which can make a big difference.

I believe we will learn more about the miner’s faith and their relationship with God in the future. We know for sure, the experience they witnessed will change their lives forever. Those of us who watched, were given a new perspective on life and saw what can happen in seconds. There is no guarantee for a long-life! Be spiritually prepared at all times!

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