“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others . . .” – 1 Peter 4:10
Two business partners were discussing their goals for the next year. “Let’s try to make more money,” said the first one, to which the other responded, “Why don’t we instead try to serve more people?”
The discussion between the two business partners zeros in on one of life’s most basic dilemmas. What do we do with what we’ve been given – our gifts, talents and resources? Do we use them to pursue our own selfish desires, or do we use them for the benefit of others? Ironically, depending on which we decide does not necessarily exclude the other.
In the preface to his classic book, Man’s Search for Meaning, renowned psychiatrist, author, and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl explains it this way: “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. . . 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.”
The bedrock of our financial system and the hope for the future of our prosperity resides in our capacity to create and provide value to other human beings. Work, in other words, must be first and foremost about creating value rather than making money, which is exactly the point the second business partner was making to the first. How about let’s create more value for more people, to rephrase it, and the revenue increase will be sure to follow.
And therein lies the irony in our response to that basic human dilemma of “what do we do with what we’ve been given?” For to pursue selfish gain benefits only ourselves – maybe! – but when we use our gifts toward service to others, in the long run as Frankl says, we too will be rewarded. Therefore, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”