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No Regrets: William Borden's Inspiring Leadership



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Every day, leaders create positive change in the lives of others around the world. Through mission trips, community events and other acts of service, these individuals illustrate exemplary character, strengthening their position as those who guide and mentor others. Their examples of leadership do not go unnoticed in the lives of those they touch and in the perception of those that follow them.

By the time he died at age 25, William Borden had left an indelible legacy of leadership. Said one of his friends from Yale: “We who were his classmates learned to lean on him and find in him a strength that was solid as a rock, just because of this settled purpose and consecration."

Borden, who was heir to his family’s dairy business and vast wealth, arrived at Yale in 1905. Months before, as a high school graduation gift, his parents had sent him on a trip through Europe, the Middle East and Asia. He wrote home about his desire to be a missionary and wrote in the back of his Bible, “No reserves.”

Borden didn’t wait to become a missionary. While at Yale, he constantly prayed for and served his fellow students. His resolve was relentless, and his example inspired others to follow his lead. By the time he was a senior, hundreds of Yale students were meeting in groups to pray together and study scripture. In addition, he reached beyond the Yale campus by aiding New Haven’s orphans, widows and homeless and establishing the Yale Hope Mission.

After his graduation, Borden turned down several opportunities to work at high-paying jobs. He had settled on being a missionary in northern China. In the back of his Bible, he inscribed two more words: “No retreats.” After completing his graduate study at Princeton Theological Seminary, he set out for his destination. He stopped in Egypt on the way, and here, Borden contracted cerebral meningitis and died an abrupt, unexpected death. “No regrets” was the final handwritten comment in the back of his Bible.

To say that his missionary work ended before it even began would be far from the truth. Borden’s short life was marked by the boldness and urgency with which he lived. It was by no means a waste; the lives of hundreds of individuals were positively influenced because Borden was intent on living his mission in the present. The unwavering leadership that he consistently demonstrated inspired others to action, and generations of Christian leaders continue to be well-served by his stirring example. Are our own lives marked by boldness and urgency? Do we resolve to make a difference in our present environment? When the answer is yes, we’ll be able to look back on our lives and take joy in the opportunities we seized and the positive differences we made.

Quotes drawn from Borden of Yale, by Mrs. Howard Taylor (1988)

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