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Colin Powell Couldn’t Fix Cancer or Death

Colin Powell, the great American military leader, was also a life-long fixer. According to an obituary in the New York Times:

Until his final days, Colin L. Powell remained preoccupied with fixing things. The former secretary of state and four-star general tinkered endlessly in his garage — sometimes with his welder and sometimes on a succession of [automobiles]. He was a regular at the neighborhood hardware store in McLean, Va., where he rummaged through parts for his house’s malfunctioning dishwasher or leaky faucets.

His plywood-and-wire fixes often left something to be desired aesthetically. But they satisfied his … compulsion to repair rather than discard what was broken. When he was fixing things, one longtime friend said, “there was a result at the end of the day. It’s why he was so happy as an Army officer: You take a platoon, and you make it better.”

But there were some things he couldn’t fix. In 2019, he was diagnosed with plasma-cell cancer. He died in October 2021. He also admitted that were a lot of things broken in this world that neither he nor the United States could fix. Once he told his assistant: “Going into the garage, I can see that the carburetor is the problem and fix it—unlike foreign policy, where nothing gets resolved. You’re just spending four years doing the best you can.”

Possible Preaching Angles:

(1) Servanthood; Leadership—Use the first part of this illustration to show how servants or leaders take what they’re given and make it better. (2) Death or Brokenness—Use the full illustration to highlight how even someone as competent as Powell, a lifelong fixer, was powerless to fix death or to fix the world’s brokenness.

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