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Opinion | Nov 27, 2018

A Leader Won’t Fight A Foolish Fight!

A Leader Won’t Fight A Foolish Fight!

The Bible teaches us to fight the good fight. This implies that there probably are good fights as well as bad ones. It is a good thing to fight the good fight of faith. To fight means to strive vigorously for something. A good leader is a trained fighter but he will not fight a foolish fight! However, there are many foolish fights a person can get into. Are you into a foolish fight or are you into a good fight?

FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

1Timothy 6:12

Fighting is often integrated in the things that a leader does. To achieve his set goals, a leader often comes against different barriers and opposition that he has to fight. This is what makes a leader like an army general. A good leader is like a good army general. Like a good general, a good leader has to pick his fights. Some fights must be fought and others avoided! A good leader has to make the decisions about what battle to fight and which ones he must classify as not worth fighting.

General Paulus

In 1942, Adolf Hitler, the leader of Germany, invaded Soviet Union for the second time and tried to capture an important city called Stalingrad. Both Adolf Hitler and Stalin (the leader of Russia) were strong commanders and it seemed that they had met their match in Stalingrad. The German forces were under the command of General Paulus.

Stalin issued an order to his troops, which was: “Not one step back!” Everyone will fight to his death. This command directed that any commander who allowed retreat without permission from his superiors be subject to military tribunal. The order called for soldiers found guilty to be forced into “penal battalions”. This means that they were sent to the most dangerous sections of the front lines. The order also directed the Russian soldiers to shoot fleeing panicked troops at the rear. In the first two months following the order, over 1,000 troops were shot by blocking units and over 130,000 troops were sent to penal battalions.

But Hitler had also forbidden his troops from retreating under any circumstances. Because of this, fighting moved street-by-street and block-by-block until the city was transformed into a ghost town. The Germans would launch repeated air raids involving 1,000 planes at a time. Troops from both sides took cover in bombed out buildings whilst Russian and German snipers hid in the ruins to pick out enemy soldiers.

On 24 January, General Paulus requested permission to surrender. He sent a message to Adolf Hitler, “Troops without ammunition or food; effective command no longer possible; 18,000 wounded without any supplies or dressings or drugs; further defence senseless; collapse inevitable. Army requests immediate permission to surrender in order to save lives of remaining troops.”

Hitler refused to give permission for the German surrender saying they should stand fast to the last man. This refusal by Adolf Hitler to give General Paulus the permission to surrender was basically an instruction to fight a foolish fight. What would you do if you were General Paulus? General Paulus would have none of that. In spite of Hitler promoting him to Field Marshal, he refused to continue in the nonsense.

On 31st January, 1943, General Paulus surrendered in spite of Adolf Hitler's instruction to him to fight a foolish fight. As Russian infantrymen approached the German headquarters in the cellar of a wrecked department store, Field Marshal Paulus and his surviving staff officers simply came out and quietly surrendered. They completely ignored Hitler's order to fight a foolish fight to the last man. The leader knew that there was no need to fight a foolish fight. He avoided it!

Thus the Battle of Stalingrad ended with General Paulus refusing to fight on in a foolish fight that made no sense. After the defeat of Stalingrad, an embittered General Paulus turned against Hitler. He collaborated with the Russians, forming a National Committee for Free Germany and made radio broadcasts from Moscow urging German troops to give up fighting for Hitler.

I have discovered many good causes to fight for. Many people are engaged in foolish fights. Many are engaged in fights that distract them from their path. Steadfastness is the ability to stay on track. A leader has to identify and avoid the battles that come in to take him off course and lead him away from his path. On the other hand, there are many good causes which are worth fighting for. The Word of God has shown me many good things that are worth fighting for. These things are worth the struggle and they are worth the effort. You can either fight for something good or fight for something foolish.

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By Dag Heward-Mills

Dag Heward-Mills
Dag Heward-Mills, © 2018

This author has authored 92 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: DagHewardMills

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