To the casual onlooker it may seem that some successful men and women have had a streak of good luck. But when we get to know these people who are doing things, we find luck did not enter into their success. And there is no magic formula. It is no secret.
A number of years ago the head of a great American steel company one day said to the head of the drafting department, "Al, I would like to have your best man for some special work."
"But all my men are good men," the head of the department replied. "I don't have a number one man."
A few days later an order came from the manager's office asking every man in the drafting room to work two hours overtime.
After some weeks of these extra hours in the department, the manager inquired, "How do the men like the accelerated program?"
"Like it? They don't like it. They are kicking about it—all but one man."
"And who is that?" inquired the manager. "His name is Charlie Schwab. He just eats work. He seems to enjoy it."
"Send him to my office," the manager requested. "He is your number one man—he's the man r was asking about." And the world knows that Charles Schwab became a steel king—an outstanding man in the industry. He enjoyed his work. To him it was not drudgery, but a game, a pleasure.
A reporter heard that everyone had to punch a time clock at the Chrysler plant, even to the manager. It seemed absurd, but on checking the timecard rack he found that Walter P. Chrysler checked in each morning at about eight-fifteen. Beginning time was eight-thirty. And his timecard showed overtime for every evening that week. There was a reason why he was chosen manager.
In the history of the West and the goldrush days there is mention of an old prospector who quite frequently disappeared into the hills for a few weeks, and on returning usually told of having struck a new vein richer and bigger than any he had ever found before. Others who had had poor luck were envious of him and tried desperately to learn his secret. One day he divulged it. "Boys," he said, "I just keep digging holes."
A traveler one day stood watching a lumberjack at his work. As the logs floated down a mountain stream he was seen to jab his hook into an occasional log and pull it aside out of the stream.
"Why do you pick out those few logs?" the traveler asked. "They all look alike. I don't see any difference in them."
"But they are not alike, sir. They are so different. The logs I pull out have grown on the side of a mountain, protected from the storm. Their grain is coarse. They are good for coarse lumber. But the logs that go on downstream grew up on top of the ridge where they were buffeted by the storms, and because of this they have developed a fine grain. We use them for choice work."
Some plants grow well in a hothouse, but will not thrive in the wind and the hot sun and the storms that come. Successful men and women are tried and proved true.
Through the years I have been privileged to work with a good many Adventist ministers. Working as elder, deacon, Sabbath school superintendent, young people's leader or at some other church responsibility, I have gotten to know these men pretty well. Some have stood out from their fellow ministers. I recall one worker, a man who had no scholastic background, no degrees. He had never spent a day in one of our schools. Yet in baptisms he was always out in the lead. There were other men in the conference with much more education, and I am sure many of them had more inherited talents. My wife and I often talked about his success. It really was no secret. That man worked incessantly. He visited his members. He visited interested people. He contacted the newspapers, he made friends of businessmen. He was a youngster with the young people. He played ball or most any game they wanted to play. He invited them to his home and made candy and popcorn balls. He could play "Pop Goes the Weasel" with the violin behind his back. He always stood at the door and shook the hand of every person who attended his meetings. He loved people into the church. There was no secret about his success. He was an untiring worker. And the love he had in his heart found expression in so many, many ways.
I think of another evangelist that became a real pal of mine. He didn't have a college training either. He didn't have much in the way of personality. He mishandled the English language. And we often remarked about his weaknesses as we saw him baptize hundreds of people into the message. There were many things against this brother. But he was a worker. He worked early and late. He never thought of himself. His wife worked just as tirelessly. He knew his congregation. He seemed to sense it when one was not there. After the meeting he would telephone to the people who were missing. He took a personal interest in them. Maybe the hour was late, or early. That did not matter. Maybe it meant some personal sacrifice to do these things. He seemed to have just one purpose in life. Everything else was of little importance. He never owned a home. He lived in furnished apartments. Every dime he earned was spent on actual necessities, and on promoting his work. There was no secret about his success. He might have done much better had he had some degrees, had he possessed a radiant, sparkling personality. Many men who had this man's ability would have done nothing because they were not blessed with natural and acquired talents.
I think of a worker whose father and mother had never gone to school. They could not even read or write. The mother learned to read after she became an Adventist. His home was simple. He knew the meaning of sacrifice. But those parents had character and passed on some very sturdy traits to him. He had an inferiority complex, and he suffered a great deal in trying to do public work. But he had been taught to try to do anything he was asked to do. Those uneducated parents sacrificed that he might get an education, and kept before him the goal of service to his fellow men. That young man was not handsome, he was not talented. He would rather work behind the scenes. In his lifetime he accomplished a great deal, and people marveled at his ability. There was no secret about it. He just worked, and struggled, and did the very best he could. Often while others were playing games or off on vacation he worked. He did not let that work become a burden or cause him to have ulcers. He tried to use the talents he had. Any man who does that will be blessed of Heaven. God will multiply his talents.
I have never seen in print any magic formula for success in the ministry. I don't believe any such formula is for sale. Books have been written about how to succeed as a preacher, and no doubt there is some good in all of them. Pick the man who stands out from the crowd in souls won in the Adventist Church, and study his methods, trying to find the secret of his success. You will perhaps conclude as I have after working for several decades with Adventist ministers. That man is a success because he puts his all into his work. He has no side lines. He holds back nothing. He works. There will never be a substitute for consecrated effort. God won't bless the person who does not try. God promises to go with us if we will go, but we have to be going someplace, doing things, for Him to help us. I do not want to be sacrilegious, but I do not see how God can bless an indolent, inactive preacher.