7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas
Many readers will know of author Eric Metaxas for his award winning book on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This new book, 7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness is a collection of mini-biographies on great men figures in history who have made a significant contribution to society but have also lived out a vibrant faith in Jesus Christ. The figures include Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Chuck Colson, Eric Liddell, William Wilberforce and George Washington. The power of a book like this is you get a glimpse of the adversity these men faced and how they overcame it by their lives, incorporating their faith in everything they accomplished.
Living Beyond Your Moment
Two of the figures in this book, George Washington and Jackie Robinson radically affected the lives of others who came after them. Metaxas writes of Washington, “Most of us can hardly fathom just how unusual Washington’s decision was. In rejecting power, General Washington became the first military leader in the history of the world to win a war and the voluntarily step down instead of seizing and consolidating power” (24). Others in his militia forced the issue of his becoming immediate leader over the nation, yet he wanted this decision to come the civilian base. There was a greatness here in his laying aside of the push for power and going back to his being a Virginian farmer.
Jackie Robinson, in a similar vein, could have acted with vitriol, anger, and verbal lashings for the cruel and evil way he was treated, yet, he took the road less taken for the sake of those who would come after him. Metaxas directly quotes from Robinson here, “I had a bad few seconds, deciding whether I could continue to endure this humiliation,” Robinson wrote later (129). He turned the other check when accosted, yet he knew that losing his temper would jeopardize the future of all the blacks that would follow him (129). Breaking the color barrier in baseball paved the way for understanding among all races in America. Yet, what I didn’t know, was that Jackie was a committed Christian from very early on in his life and sought to integrate at every step his faith and life.
I found this book to be a very good introduction into the life of seven great men. In matters of sacrifice and discipleship, Bonhoeffer bears a great witness. In matters of love for all of God’s people, Pope John Paul II is included. In different yet striking ways, these men bring out the best of what the Lord can do when a man’s life is devoted to Him.
Thanks to Book Sneeze and Thomas Nelson for the review copy in exchange for review.