I have been all too involved in the merging of Armstrong State University and Georgia Southern University. Merger is a euphemism. Take-over is more like it.
In any case, the process has been very interesting. Fear and anxiety about one’s job has created a kind of posturing by many academicians involved, so much so that I believe some, if not many, have lost sight of their work – why they got in the business of teaching anyway.
They may have lost their way, blinded by their own ego and ambition.
Of course, while these unfortunate situations are obvious simply due to the acuteness of it – the time frame involved – such posturing and loss of perspective is part of the human condition, isn’t it?
Mother Teresa had a different perspective. She was once asked, “How do you measure the success of your work?” She thought about the question and gave her interviewer a puzzled look, and said, “I don’t remember that the Lord ever spoke of success. He spoke only of faithfulness in love. This is the only success that really counts.”
Jesus said, in essence, “Don’t do things that bring you the honor of men, do things for which God will honor you.”
Jesus was very good at describing kingdom values, which are quite different from our world’s values.
Greatness in the Kingdom is not measured by how important we are, how much we have, or how much we gain, but by how much we give.
How many millionaires has America produced over the past two centuries?
Tens of thousands, I’m sure. Of those millionaires who are dead, how many can you name? Not very many.
But, there are a few who learned the lesson that greatness is measured not by what you have or gain, but by what you give. Would Carnegie and Vanderbilt and Rockefeller be remembered if their names were not engraved on public buildings, libraries and universities, to which they gave millions?
And a century from now, whose names will live on after all the lifestyles of today’s rich and famous have faded away? Albert Schweitzer? Mother Teresa? Billy Graham? The number will be few.
Some great scientists, a few artists, a political leader here and there. In every case, I guarantee that each of them will be people who gave more to the world than they received.
One of my favorite stories is the true account of Alfred Nobel.
Nobel was the inventor of a paste formed from nitroglycerine, the result of which we call dynamite. He became very rich from this invention.
In 1888, a French newspaper did not check facts when they heard Nobel had died.
They published an obituary of Nobel, who was still alive (it was his brother who died).
Nobel awoke to read, “Le marchand de la mort est mort.” The English translation is, “The merchant of death is dead.” The article went on to say, “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”
Nobel decided right then that he would not be remembered as “the merchant of death.”
Soon after this, he signed his last will and testament and set aside the bulk of his estate to establish awards, to be given annually without distinction of nationality.
He left approximately 107 million dollars to fund prizes in various fields for the greatest effort toward peace – the Nobel Peace Prizes.
Alfred Nobel had a rare gift – the experience of seeing how the world would value his life. And what he saw shocked him.
He had received more than he had given. So, he decided to give.
And today, the world only knows him as the giver of peace prizes, not as the merchant of death.
What Jesus continually said is that if we want the best seat in the house, then we must give more than we get.
Jesus’s life and death is the perfect example of giving, isn’t it?
Thomas Carlyle, the British historian, put it succinctly, “Show me the man you honor and I will know what kind of man you are.”
You decide: How will you be remembered?