Hans Gedda/Sygma/Corbis

This TIME piece on Nelson Mandela was recently brought to my attention. It was actually published back in 2008, but Madiba’s thoughts remain challenging and very interesting to consider, particularly for me at this time as I step into a new position of leadership at the church.

As Richard Stengel (who helped Mandela write his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom) concludes:

Ultimately, the key to understanding Mandela is those 27 years in prison. The man who walked onto Robben Island in 1964 was emotional, headstrong, easily stung. The man who emerged was balanced and disciplined. He is not and never has been introspective. I often asked him how the man who emerged from prison differed from the willful young man who had entered it. He hated this question. Finally, in exasperation one day, he said, “I came out mature.” There is nothing so rare — or so valuable — as a mature man. (emphasis added)

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