Speaking of boats (well, I was last week), I’ve been reading a book – Ben Wilson’s Empire of the Deep: The Rise and Fall of the British Navy. It’s a cracking read, for the three of us who are interested in British naval history. It’s been interesting to read about Admiral Nelson, whose superlative performance in battle seemed to come down to the level of trust he’d built up with his officers, and that he’d earned the respect and love of his superbly disciplined sailors. In short, Nelson’s success was down to how well he managed his relationships. That may be an oversimplification, but it’s beyond dispute that he was loved by the men who served under him. Nelson understood, I think, that leadership has at least as much to do with relationships as it does to do with ability.
While reading this book, I was reminded of a story I’d once heard about Nelson’s funeral. A quick internet search revealed that it was actually true.
Towards the end of the funeral service, sailors from HMS Victory were supposed to take the ship’s colours and place them on a table. Instead, the sailors ripped a chunk from one of the flags and divided it between themselves to take away as a memento of the leader that they had loved.
I like this story. It’s a simple act of love and memory, and it reminds me of something.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread; gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”