“. . . whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant . . .” – Mark 10:43
The late Dr. Viktor Frankl, world renowned psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, once gave a lecture to his students about the pursuit of success. “Don’t aim at success – the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run – in the long run, I say! – success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it.
This past week I attended the funeral service for long time dear friend Press Canon, a ninety-year-old “greatest generation” World War II veteran, who had lived his entire life in my hometown of Paducah, Texas where he and his wife, Betty, love of his life for the past sixty-five years, raised two beautiful daughters, then were blessed with four grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren who were always nearby. Press, a quiet, modest and humble man, slight in stature who would hardly be noticed in a crowd of strangers, earned his living as an auto mechanic. But don’t be fooled by any of that. Press was all over the place in that little town, always in the capacity of quietly serving others – as a volunteer fireman, city council member, church leader, or simply helping someone out – always with a warm, engaging smile. I doubt he ever gave much thought about the pursuit of success, he simply loved God and loved people, and lived his life accordingly. Yet, success did follow him, precisely because he had forgotten to think of it. That was evidenced last week by the scores of people who arrived from both far and near, filling to capacity Press’s beloved Methodist Church, there to celebrate his life, each having been profoundly touched by him in some special way, myself included.
“For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.” Or as Jesus taught us, “. . . whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant . . .”