Winston Churchill had been a soldier for many years of his life. A warrior attitude was manifested in his political life also. He had the courage to withstand a most withering attack from his own people.
In the years leading up to World War ii, everyone wanted to believe that Adolf Hitler was a man who could be reasoned with. Churchill knew that was a lie, and he committed himself to warning his nation in spite of the intense unpopularity of his message. Most leaders would have faltered in fulfilling that responsibility because of a weak will. The whole nation failed in this respect, because they followed their weak leaders. They (and America) lacked the courage to face the brutal truth in the early days of Hitler’s reign.
Churchill warned, “Something quite extraordinary is afoot. All the signals are set for danger. The red lights flash through the gloom. Let peaceful folk beware. It is a time to pay attention and to be well prepared” (Martin Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill—The Prophet of Truth; emphasis mine throughout).
Such statements even made Churchill’s own Conservative Party begin turning against him. “The House of Commons listened to him with what he later described as ‘a patient air of skepticism.’ There were frequent, angry interruptions, and his criticisms of [Prime Minister Neville] Chamberlain were widely resented by his fellow Conservative mps. Bitterly he told them: ‘You are casting away real and important means of security and survival for vain shadows and for ease’” (ibid.).
The people wanted to continue in a peace-time atmosphere. Churchill tried to get them into an emergency posture, in tune with what Hitler was doing. Churchill served as an outstanding watchman for the whole Western world—though they hated the messenger and rejected the message!
In time, once Hitler’s true character was manifest, Churchill was vindicated. The nation called upon him to lead them when the magnitude of the crisis became apparent.
Churchill was able to strengthen the will of the British nation through his strong warrior spirit. He believed that every British citizen should be willing to die, choking on his or her own blood, before surrendering to Hitler.
Some wanted Churchill to be the minister of defense. But he was not the kind of defense minister those in power were looking for. Shamefully, they wanted a weak figurehead.
“‘After today’s debate,’ Sir Maurice Hankey wrote to Sir Warren Fisher, ‘I am afraid we have got to make some concession for a minister of defense. What I want is something that will work and not upset the psychology of the whole machine.’ Both Hankey and Warren Fisher—the two most senior civil servants, were determined that the new minister should not be a disruptive influence. ‘The minister should be a disinterested type of man,’ Warren Fisher wrote to Neville Chamberlain on February 15, ‘with no axe to grind or desire to make a place for himself’” (ibid.).
They wanted a minister of defense who would speak to them of “smooth things”—one who would help perpetuate the grand delusion of continuing peace and prosperity. Certainly he must not be a man who would warn about a coming war. And he must have little interest in the military of Britain or Germany! Their idea of a defense minister was a man who would be easily controlled. In short, he must not be a leader!
But Churchill did not fit this description. As he said, “The responsibility of ministers to guarantee the safety of the country from day to day and from hour to hour is direct and inalienable.”
Churchill feared that his people were slipping into a dangerous defeatist attitude. He warned them that, when dealing with a tyrant like Hitler, the only argument that counts is force.
Perhaps no leader has ever been more scorned by so many leaders and people as Churchill was in those pre-war years. But he was never deterred—never discouraged. He kept warning because he loved his nation and his people.
Where do we see a watchman like Churchill today? Where is there such a man who will stand up and challenge the whole government? And even the entire nation? Where is there a political leader who has the character to proclaim boldly to our people that they have degenerated into the sewer—at a time when the world is filled with unparalleled dangers?
I see no such leader in the U.S. or Britain.
And we are so childish that we are almost totally unaware of our lack of real leaders. We fail to see it as a curse from God! No great nation can survive without strong leadership. Childish leaders lack the will to face strong tyrants. Our will is broken in our leaders, exactly as God prophesied. When will we face the brutal truth about ourselves—and then repent?
Write for our free booklet Winston S. Churchill: The Watchman for a more thorough examination of the lessons we need to learn from the life of this remarkable man.