I Am the Master of My Fate; I Am the Captain of My Soul

Regardless of circumstances, within the spirit of man lies the ability to be true to one’s self and overcome. The movie Invictus (2009) features the indomitable spirit of Nelson Mandela, how he inspired his nation, and how he inspired the South African national rugby team to world victory.

“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” – William Ernest Henley, British Writer

The movie title and underlying theme come from the the poem “Invictus” written by the 19th century poet William Ernest Henley (1849 – 1902). The poem is portrayed as the cornerstone of Mandela’s mindset as he endured so many years in prison with hard labor, and François Pienaar, the captain of the South African rugby union team. This quote is the climax of the poem.

Now we come to the part that we always come to on the Bible or Not blog – is the idea of being the captain of your own soul Biblical or not? The idea of standing firm in your faith, and not being swayed by others around you clearly is Biblical. To stand up on principal, and take adversity without bitterness is truly scriptural. The master of my fate and captain of my soul part is debatable. On the one hand, God has given us free will, and Joshua admonishes us to ‘choose ye this day whom ye will serve’. In that respect, when we choose God, we are navigating our soul towards Him. But if we are to be saved, we must fully surrender to Him. That means that for the true believer, God is the Master of my fate and Christ is the Captain of my soul.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley (1849 – 1902) – English Poet 


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