Speak Truth to Power

Although I am a middle-aged man, I look up to a teenage girl.  Her name is Malala Yousafzai.  Here’s part of the story about the youngest person to ever win a Noble Peace Prize and what we can all learn from her.

Eighteen year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai is no ordinary high school student. In her short life, she’s not only drawn international attention to a massive problem—that of the 61 million girls around the world who don’t have access to an education—she’s persuaded world leaders to start taking real action to fix it.  When the Taliban started to close schools throughout Pakistan’s Swat Valley—bombing many of them—her dream of getting an education started to slip away. Many girls were terrorized into staying at home, but Malala, a devout Muslim and just 11 years old at the time, defiantly continued to go to school. [1]

Speak out

She started to write about her life, anonymously, for BBC Urdu online. Malala’s blog went viral, but it didn’t change things where she lived. The Taliban was still in control. At great personal risk, Malala started to speak out, using her real identity—”wherever, whenever, to whomever would listen”—on radio and TV and to national and foreign journalists. It took tremendous courage to do that, but because she did, Malala’s message has caught on and compelled millions of people to listen.[2]

One of the lessons that we can learn from Malala is to find the courage to speak out against injustice.   Let’s be honest, it would have been easy for her to just simply do what she was told. It’s often easier for us to “go along to get along”-  to go with the crowd-  to not rock the boat.   But sometimes the boat needs to be rocked.   Sometimes people are looking for someone to stand up and speak out.   Sometimes, that one voice can lead to a huge chorus of people speaking the truth.

This is what believers in Jesus are called to do.   We are challenged to never be ashamed to tell others about King Jesus (2 Timothy 1:8; Romans 1:16).  If Malala can show this kind of courage so can believers in Jesus.

Never Compromise

As people were beaten and murdered in public squares, Malala spoke out against the Taliban’s destruction of local schools and their ban on girls getting an education. She inspired countless with her determination and message — but Malala’s bravery also made her a target.   On the afternoon of October 9, 2012, two masked gunmen stopped Malala’s school bus, shouted for her by name and shot her point-blank in the head.  In what doctors called a miracle, Malala not only survived the assassination attempt, but suffered very little permanent damage. She has since become a symbol of true courage and strength around the world, even becoming the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. All because she wasn’t afraid to speak out. [3]

If you have a firm moral foundation, then you should be prepared to stand on it when pushed to compromise your values.  I believe people are highly tempted to give in when their values have not been firmly established.   Malala’s courage demonstrates that you really gotta know what you believe and why you believe it! (1 Peter 3:15)

Stand for something

You’ve heard the old saying… “you’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything”?   Although this statement is true, I don’t believe it’s a problem for those who have formed their moral foundation.  When your faith is built on a rock Jesus Christ, others know exactly where you stand, or more importantly, they know exactly for whom you stand (Matthew 7:24).

Malala continues to try to be an influence around the world.  She travels the globe, visiting troubled communities to meet girls facing some of the same obstacles she faced in Pakistan.   If this teenage girl can make that much of a difference in a messed up world, certainly so can I!

[1] http://www.fastcompany.com/3052132/lessons-learned/five-leadership-lessons-from-malala-yousafzai

[2] Ibid.

[3] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/malala-yousafzai-confrontation-taliban_56142261e4b022a4ce5fcc1d

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