During our four years in Africa we had the opportunity of going on many Safari adventures. The Lion was always exciting to ‘get up close and personal’ – and exciting to observe them in their ‘homes’.
I was reminded of our Lion engagements as I was reviewing the story and lessons attached to King Richard of 12th Century England who was nicknamed the “Lion Heart”. That’s a Cool nickname. The immediate reflection of King Richard was that he was not a wimp. He must have been strong, courageous, powerful, fearless and someone you would avoid ‘angering’ at all costs. Some other heroes of mine who have earned special nicknames would include: Lehi = Visionary, Nephi = Obedient, Ammon= Missionary, Abinadi= Courageous (“Touch Me Not”), Jonathan=Friend, Captain Moroni=”like Unto Moroni”, President Hinckley=Temples, President Benson=Book of Mormon, President Kimball=Miracle of Forgiveness, just to name a few who had ‘Lion Hearts’ in some special way.
But, back to King Richard. He earned the right to his nickname and Leadership reputation due to the opportunity history provided him and taking advantage of the opportunities.
Richard organized a crusade to the Holy Land to beat up on the Turks. The mission failed and King Richard found himself in prison. While he was cooling his heels, traitors at home took over the government. When King Richard finally escaped from prison he was forced to reenter England, for security reasons, incognito while he quietly gathered a few of his faithful followers to help him put England back into the hands of her rightful rulers.
His first real battle was at the Castle where Ivanhoe, a loyal friend, had been imprisoned following a battle where Ivanhoe had been wounded quite severely. When the battle to free Ivanhoe began, Ivanhoe was unable to get to the window due to his wounds and loss of blood so he asked his nurse to describe the battle and the Leader. Rebecca, his nurse, described the leader as being one without insignia or other marks of identification which Ivanhoe had hoped would give away who this rescue party was being led by. Ivanhoe then asked, “Then describe how he fights and I shall know who the Leader is.” She shared how he swung his axe with thunderous blows, assaulting the castle almost single handed. She said, “Stones and beams are hurled down from the castle walls upon him, but he regards them no more than if they were feathers. He fights as if there were twenty men’s strength in his single arm” and again she said, “It is fearful, yet magnificent, to behold how the arm and HEART of one man can triumph over hundreds.” Ivanhoe could only think of one man he had ever known who could fight like that, but believed his friend to be imprisoned in a foreign land so was confused but said to Rebecca, “I thought there was but one man in England who might do such deeds.”
Then he paid this tribute to an unknown leader. He didn’t know who this man was but he knew the qualities that always characterized great accomplishment and said to Rebecca, “I swear by the honor of my house, I would endure ten years of captivity to fight a single day by that great man’s side in such a quarrel as this.”
Great Leaders are inspiring and fun to follow, but sometimes hard to find. King Richard had the heart of a Lion and people followed him. Capt. Moroni had the heart of a Lion and people followed him. Abinadi had the same heart and Alma rose up and rebuked his ‘brothers’ and ‘followed’ Abinadi. Peter had the heart of a Lion and on the day of Pentecost 3,000 people stood up and followed him. Nephi had the heart of a Lion on his famous door approach to Ismael and Ismael found his pup tent and followed him to the Promised Land. Ammon stood at the waters of sebus and with the heart of a Lion withstood the enemies of the king. Elder Wilson of Virginia fame stood up to two rule breakers in his zone and courageously, with the heart of a Lion, changed the direction of an entire mission.
Every great CAUSE is almost always led by a Lion Hearted Leader. And nearly every Lion Hearted Leader will be found at the head of some GREAT CAUSE. The House of Israel has been identified from before this world was as Lion Hearts, people who had the pre-exisent instincts and desires to team up with GREAT CAUSES and make a major difference: Family, Marriage, Church, Community, Profession, Calling and Neighbors are all Causes that Lion Hearts tackle and usually WIN BIG.
King Richard is a GREAT story but it will remain only a story until we DECIDE to put the LION HEART piece of the story into our log book and make something happen. Storm a Castle. Change a community. Create a successful Business. Double the performance numbers. Celestialize a Marriage. Exalt a Family.
With love from Heber while loving the story and Life Lessons of Richard, the Lion Hearted King.