Be a man of value

The weekend began in what I thought was a paradox; it turned into a mixture of irony and contemplation then culminated in a very surreal conversation that brought to light a subject that can be summed up in the words of Albert Einstein: “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” It was a very bizarre time, highlighted by a very enlightening conversation with a friend whom I have the utmost respect and admiration.

I was raised by two parents and an entire village of people who were driven by many motivating factors to reach one elusive goal – Success. The definition of success for many parents is multi-faceted, multi-layered with multiple ways of achieving success. For my parents it seemed quite simple – honor God, honor your parents, respect all you come in contact with, work hard, learn even harder. These were the fundamental blocks upon which success was built upon.

My interpretation of my parents’ wishes was siphoned through a very Generation-X thought process that was whittled down into a very manageable, easy to digest package – success is measured simply by the number of toys you own and whether or not you control the other kids in the sand box. Therefore, Einstein’s theory of becoming a man of value did not necessarily find a home in my head when I was a twenty-something running around trying to loot and plunder as fast as I possibly could and in the process achieve a clandestine objective of gathering as much praise as possible.

This was my life. This was my credo. It was all about me.

That same philosophy consumed me in my personal life when dealing with the people who loved me more than I deserved. My marriage suffered tremendously. My sons had little respect for me. I lost most of my friends and alienated the ones who held out hope that I would see and fix the problems.

God has a sense of humor. Have you ever heard the word ‘Vainglory?’ I was reminded of the term on Sunday during a lesson taught in church by my friend Lei.

1. Boastful, unwarranted pride in one's accomplishments or qualities.
2. Vain, ostentatious display.

There have been numerous times in my life when I operated under the sole premise that once I had received the measure of success that I had worked my entire life to attain, then I would receive the acknowledgement, accolades and prestige I deserved from my peers. In short order, I lived my life for fame and fortune rather than living it for a more worthy purpose.

Time changes us. In time, I was stripped of all that I had worked so hard to accomplish and was left with what God felt I needed – absolutely nothing but the people who mattered (my family and friends), faith, perseverance and a desire to be a better man in all of its intricate aspects, defeats, sorrows and the possibility to have more wholesome triumphs with greater purpose.

In the past I would have asked, “What’s in it for me?” Now I ask, “How can we all benefit from this?”

In the past I would have said, “I don’t want him involved because he offended me and I don’t like him.” Now I’m more prone to say, “We have our differences, but I see the value he brings to achieving the overall success of this project.”

There can be no vanity or pride in our marriage. We can never succeed if we do things with selfish pride or malicious intent in our hearts. Until I resolve today to do things for good and not for my vainglory, then things like contention, conceit and arrogance will rule us and eventually destroy us.

Am I changed man because of it? Absolutely! Am I entirely perfect because of it? Absolutely not. But it gives me a better perspective on who I can be and what I can accomplish if my goals for success encompasses more than just me.

I had a conversation with a friend today that solidified this theory for me and gives me more inspiration and incentive to live by the same ideal that Einstein encouraged – If I seek to add more value to my life and the lives of others, I believe I will be much more successful in my own life than by living it with selfish pride and objectives.

Finally, though these ramblings may not mean much to anyone but me who has learned and has been reminded once again what is truly important in life I close with the words of Mother Theresa who embodied service and a lived her life for others – “I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.”

Take a moment to love until it hurts and in so doing, you will feel more fulfilled in your own life.

11 thoughts on “Be a man of value

  1. My husband taught this lesson on Sunday & posed that same question to our class: What’s your definition of “vainglory”? After a minute or so of no replies, I answered “it’s doing what you know you should do, even when there’s no one around to see you doing it. You do it SOLELY because you know it’s the RIGHT thing to do!”

    My husband nodded his head at me, and said “it’s easier said than done isn’t it?”

    What the…???!!! 😉 He’s right though, there are many times in my life where I should’ve made wiser choices than I did & where I’ve done things because I knew my parents, teachers or bosses were watching me, rather than doing it just because I knew it needed to be done!

    Yes this “vainglory” – self aggrandizement was something I was shamelessly guilty of in my early adult years, especially when it came to a new group of social acquaintances. In meeting new people, I loved talking about my job and how much I was earning. Ugh! So pathetic! Over the years, I’ve come to realize that it’s not what you do to earn a living nor even how much you make, that makes you someone of value! It’s what you do for those around you, and the value you place on others that makes you someone of value! [Matthew 16:26]

    1. Excellent thoughts on the subject – It is an amazing (and difficult) concept. I don’t know if I’ll ever rid myself completely of vainglory but I’m sure trying. Time has truly been a good teacher though and like you, I’ve found that the younger version of me was not nearly as patient and willing to serve as the current me.

      Thanks for your continued support and love.

  2. Truth be told – that lesson was for really just for me. The concept of finishing versus winning, being aware of vainglory and choosing to be elect every single day is HARD. But I know the end result and the blessing and so strive daily. I absolutely love your gift of expression Seti. What a blessing to be on the receiving end of your wit and friendship.

    1. It was totally a blessing to be there and to participate in the lesson. You captured the essence of the message and I enjoyed your comic relief. Thanks to you and your wonderful family for being great friends and a good influence on us.

  3. What is the purpose of been poor ? How can we stop it ? Open 10% of your heart to built the future generation let theim expirence hight civilization and peace I need to heard from your opinion before I can teach love and peace

  4. I missed this lesson since I wasn’t physically able to attend classes except for Sacrament so thanks for the recap! What an awesome reminder though for us to not be so judgmental of others by being more prideful in ourselves? or as you defined “vainglory”.
    I also was very close minded in my younger years and have noticed myself changing as the years have gone by. Life has a funny way of doing that to a person I guess. Life and the people we meet who come and go in our lives.
    We continue to be molded by the Master’s hand aye? I am grateful for the opportunity to do so. Great blog!

  5. Self- aggrandisement, oh and if your in your down years and barely comprehend this now, at this juncture in life than I’m sure most of you are on the obese, unathletic, sick bodies group. The ones that do keep a strong body, mind, soul, your the illuminated ones. Enlightenment is a vital, almost crucial value. Illumination is something most people lacking in a whole. Americans in general are quite stupid, over wieght, and prone to cancer. Inform one another and be of value to the earth. Get up and start working out that heart by competing and lifting wieghts consistently.

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