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Dare To Be Different

September 13, 2023

Leadership Notes

Rick Rescorla. The man has an interesting biography. As Spike Cohen writes in a tribute to him, it’s a name that should be remembered.

Rescorla was Welsh by birth, American by choice. He served with distinction in military branches of both countries. I don’t know anything about his spiritual background. But as Cohen shares his story, he was a man of courage and honor.

Twenty-two years ago, Rescorla disobeyed orders, and saved 2700 lives.

He was the head of security for Morgan Stanley in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. He warned, years before 2001, that the Towers’ basements were vulnerable to attack. His warnings fell on deaf ears. And then, in 1993, the attack happened. A van bomb exploded below the North Tower. Six people we killed, including a pregnant woman, while injuring over one thousand. People started listening to Rescorla.

After the attack, he implemented regular evacuation drills, using his megaphone to direct thousands of employees out of their offices, down the stairwells, and out of the building to safety.

Born in Cornwall, Rick would sing Welsh and Cornish songs from his megaphone, as he directed the employees out of the building. He would routinely tell employees: in an emergency, no matter what chaos is happening around you, no matter what anyone tells you, leave your offices, go down the stairwells, and leave the building.

Rick told his wife that he suspected another attack on the World Trade Center would happen, this time, possibly, by air.

Twenty-two years ago, when the first plane hit the North Tower, the Port Authority announced over the South Tower’s speaker system, “Please do not leave the building. This area is secure.”

RICK RESCORLA IGNORED THEM. He told a friend {and I’m paraphrasing to keep it clean}, “The idiots told me not to evacuate. They said it’s just Building One. I told them I’m getting my people…out of here.”

And so Rescorla picked up his megaphone as he had done so many times before, told his employees not to listen to the orders, and directed them out of the building. His Cornish songs helped keep their nerves calm as they evacuated, even after the second plane hit their Tower.

Once all Morgan Stanley employees had been successfully evacuated, Rescorla went back to look for survivors. But first, he called his wife, Susan. “Stop crying. I have to get these people out safely. If something should happen to me, I want you to know I’ve never been happier. You made my life.”

Rick rushed back to the South Tower. That was the last time anyone saw him alive. All but six of the more than 2700 Morgan Stanley employees survived. Had they obeyed the Port Authority, they would all be dead. Thankfully, they listened to Rick instead.

Much in the Bible is countercultural. Counterintuitive also comes to mind. Nonconformist is another way to capture it. It is a worldview we ought to, with some reasonableness, pursue. After all, we are spiritual descendants of the Protestant Reformation, which carries with it a healthy sense of being ungovernable.

When it seems like we are living in a world run amok, it’s always good to remember two things:

* God’s Sovereignty.

* As Strangers Living in a Strange Land, Dare to be Different.

And now, your Moment of Spurgeon:



Followed by a bonus Moment with Hugh Latimer:

“Let us put all our hope, trust, and confidence only in Christ; let us

patch him with nothing.”

Always and Forever of Good Cheer,


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