Recently I was given an incredible gift. I had the opportunity to spend four hours with Andrew Young. His list of accomplishments is long. To list only a few, he was a pastor, a close associate of Martin Luther King, Jr. during the civil rights movement, a U.S. Congressman from Georgia, and was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Also, he was the Atlanta mayor instrumental in bringing the 1996 Olympics to Atlanta.
During our afternoon conversation, he talked and I listened. I learned so much about life and leadership. In this series of posts, I will share what I learned from this man of God. He is a great leader who has made history multiple times. To read the rest of this series, visit paparelli.com and subscribe.
Andrew Young said, “These men who sat on the Board of Directors of my dad’s college approached me. They asked me to support the school. I told them I would be happy to contribute. I was thinking a thousand, maybe two.”
“They said, ‘We would like you to contribute $50,000.’
“I was taken aback. I explained to them as mayor of Atlanta I was making $50,000 per year. There really was no way I could afford to help them at that lofty financial level. I could not even imaging pledging $50,000 and paying it over a three year period. I had a family to support.”
Andrew went home that night and told his wife what happened.
She told him, “You cannot say no to these men. This is the college responsible for educating your dad and my dad. Look at the impact this institution had on you and me and our families’ lives. You cannot tell them no. You just can’t.”
Andrew said to me, “I didn’t argue with her, and I didn’t call those men back and say yes. I just thought and prayed about it.”
Then the rest of the story began to unfold.
“I was walking through Atlanta airport and was stopped by a man who asked, ‘Are you Andrew Young?’
“‘Yes,’ I said.
“The man replied, ‘I am with Thomas Nelson Publishers. We would like to work with you on writing a book about your civil rights experience from more of a spiritual rather than historical perspective.’
“I said, ‘I just finished a book on the civil rights movement. I don’t really have the time for this right now.’ And then I just walked away without giving this man another thought.
“A couple of weeks later, my agent called me out of the blue. He said, ‘I see you are going to write another book.’
“I said, ‘I have no plans for another book.’
“‘Yes you do,’ he responded. ‘I am holding in my hand a check made out to you for $50,000. It is an advance on a new book from Thomas Nelson Publishers. Looks to me like you are writing another book.’”
Andrew told me, “When I heard the check was for $50,000, I knew right then and there two things. One, I was supposed to write this book. And two, I was to sign the check over as a contribution to those men from my dad’s college.
“Every morning for four months, I got up at 4:30 AM to pray and write.”
Those writings were published as A Way Out of No Way: The Spiritual Memoirs of Andrew Young.
“My wife was right. She knew. I was not to tell those men no under any circumstance. She knew it wouldn’t be right to say no to them. She also, like me, had no idea how we could make a $50,000 commitment to their institution.”
He honored his wife and didn’t say, “No.”
I was amazed at this story and how he trusted and honored his wife. I was also amazed at the values and deep faith his wife demonstrated. She knew what was right and believed God would show them a way. And He did.