Albert Schweitzer: Example and Influence

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Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

This is post #16 in a series of posts in a book I read on my Philippines trip and en route home. It contains leadership insights from the most victorious team in sports history (winning percentage = 86% as of the writing of the book): The All Blacks, The New Zealand National Rugby Union Team.

“Today it’s hard for many of us to remember or imagine life as it was in the 1940s and 1950s.

Polio had reached epidemic proportions. Every parents worst nightmare, it paralyzed over 500,000 people around the world every year. The ‘public reaction was to a plague’ wrote the US social historian William O’Neill. ‘Citizens of Urban areas were to be terrified every summer when this frightful visitor returned. Sanatoria, calipers, and withered limbs were embedded in the collective consciousness.

Jonas Salk changed all that. On 12 April 1955, he announced the Salk vaccine which relegated polio to a footnote of medical textbooks. It was hailed a miracle. Salk became a hero overnight, the most fêted man in America, yet refused to patent his new vaccine, donating it to the human race instead.

‘Example is not the main thing in influencing others,’ said the philosopher Albert Schweitzer. ‘Its the only thing.’ Salk set a wise example. He used his fame to argue that it was time for the human race to change; consumerism, unfettered capitalism, environmental degradation and population growth is unsustainable, and it was our ‘responsibility to find solutions to the key issues facing the human race.'”

Albert Schweitzer as quoted by James Kerr in Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About The Business of Life (London: Constable, 2013) 174-175.

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others…It’s the only thing.”

What example are you setting in the times in which we find ourselves? Related to generosity, none of us likely can come close to what Salk did to impact the human race. But we can set an example through our giving, living, serving, and loving to shape the world around us.

Related to GTP, I am specifically identifying Christian servants of the next generation by teaching and investing in their lives like Paul did with Timothy. In today’s Scripture we see the charge to them is to set an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

God, help everyone reading this, myself included, identify people you are raising up and pour our lives into theirs by the power of your Holy Spirit, so we multiply our impact for your glory and for the advancement of your Kingdom. Hear my prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Today GTP is well represented at the Wycliffe Global Alliance Generosity Consultation outside of Quito, Ecuador, I get to teach and my GTP colleague, Ereny Monir, will facilitate discussion for about 50 delegates from 23 countries. Pray that we can set a good example for everyone we serve.