There's a success story told by Robert Fulghum in his book "It Was On Fire When I Laid Down", about a man who died a failure. John Pierpont was his name.
In 1866, at age 81, he came to the end of his days in Washington DC, after a long string of personal defeats. Things began well enough. He graduated from Yale, which his grandfather had helped found, and chose education as his profession with some enthusiasm. He was a failure as a teacher. He was too easy on his students. And so he turned to the legal profession. He was a failure as a lawyer. He was too generous to his clients and too concerned about justice to take good cases that brought good fees. He tried dry goods next. He failed at business. He was too liberal with credit and didn't charge enough for his goods. He tried writing poetry and then he tried being a minister. He failed at both endeavors.
He even tried politics. He ran for Governor of Massachusetts. He ran for Congress. He failed to win either race. He was 76 years old when the Civil War came along and he signed up as chaplain of the 22nd Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteers. He couldn't hack it. It was too much of a strain on his health. Someone found him an obscure job in the back offices of the Treasury Department in Washington, and he finished the last five years of his life as a menial file clerk. From this distance in time, Fulghum tells us, one could insist that Pierpont was not a failure. His commitments to social justice, his desire to be a loving human being, his active engagement in the great issues of his times, and his faith in the power of the human mind-these are not failures. But every December, especially in colder climates, we celebrate his success for something entirely different. In our hearts and minds, we carry a memorial to him for a song.
John Pierpont wrote Jingle Bells.
How often do we measure a person's success through the material they acquire or by the deeds they've accomplished? Far, far too often we miss the important people in our lives who show up each and every day accomplishing what many think are the mundane, when they really aren't Maybe you know a John Pierpoint or two....
|And now for the rest of the story....|
GOD, IN THIS NEW YEAR, may I no longer be my own but yours. Put me to what you will; rank me with whom you will. Put me to doing; put me to suffering. Let me be employed for you or laid aside for you, exalted for you or brought low for you. Let me be full; let me be empty. Let me have all things; let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to your pleasure and disposal. And now, O glorious and blessed God — Creator, Redeemer, and Inspirer — you are mine, and I am yours. May this promise that I hereby make on earth be ratified in heaven. Amen