What is a meaningful life?
What does it mean to have an impact?
The way the world usually measures it, the answer typically includes wealth, recognition, prestige, and perhaps power.
Only on rare occasions does the answer immediately include service, especially service to those the world has forgotten.
By most standards, Paul Husby met the definitions of meaningful and impacting. He was the CEO of 3M Corporation for the nation of Brazil; he was at the top of the ladder. A few years ago he returned to the U.S. from Brazil to retire, having already led that meaningful life. But Paul found himself dissatisfied with the world’s measure of impact. He was not ready to sit quietly by and say, “I’ve done enough.”
Instead, he started asking questions about eternal impact, and what it means to be really meaningful. Hope Unlimited’s CEO, Philip Smith, asked Paul if he would be willing to return to Brazil with his wife, Nancy, and take a leading role for Hope in the city of Vitoria. That request led to this letter sent to the Smiths a few weeks ago:
Dear Philip and Corenne,
Yesterday morning after receiving your email the previous night, God answered Philip’s question through verses that were in Nancy’s Bible study lesson…God figured He needed to make his message abundantly clear so He did, through the following Bible verses.
James 1:26-27: If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit the orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
We go to Vitoria seeing this as God’s answer to prayer. Every morning for the past months there are many Hope Unlimited topics that I pray about, looking for God’s answer. One of those is our calling related to Hope Mountain; God has answered this prayer with great clarity. Philip, let’s talk so we can develop the next steps in this journey. God bless both of you. You are great models of living by faith.
In Philip’s words, “I bet neither Paul nor Nancy imagined that they would become missionaries! But knowing the need, they were not content just going on with their lives. God gave them both a holy discontent. Their example of living out their faith is truly inspirational.”
Now, please do not misunderstand me. This is not written to indict anyone for working in the commercial world.
Our Board at Hope Unlimited is filled with good, godly people who are able to make a significant difference in the organization precisely because they have been successful at business and are using their successes to minister to the least of these.
But this is, at least, a cautionary tale.
If we find our fulfillment in fame, wealth, and power, then we are missing what God really has for us. True fulfillment comes not from status in the eyes of the world, but from being obedient to the one who said, “Feed my lambs.”
Or, as Randy Alcorn says, “You cannot take it with you, but you can send it ahead.”
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6:19-20