Knowing Your Purpose

"I live for others. My deepest desire is to make every person I meet a little better because I have passed this way."

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A thousand men proposed to her. She had offers from millionaires, farmers, businessmen, and vagrants from Bowery. Even after her seventieth birthday, propositions came in such quantities that her secretary did not bother to show her the letters. She was not an actress or movie star, but she had a tremendous following of thirty-eight thousand men and women, who became ambassadors of good will in eighty-six countries.

Her name was Evangeline Booth. After retirement, she swam and did fancy diving as though she were still eighteen. She was a tremendous woman- administrator, musician, and friend to thousands. When she was interviewed by a reporter, she said that her secret was this: “I live for others. My deepest desire is to make every person I meet a little better because I have passed this way.”

Another woman, a contemporary of Evangeline Booth, was Hetty Green, once the riches woman in America. She left an estate of $75 million at her death, yet she was one of the most penny-thrifty woman who ever lived. In the winter, she padded her clothes with newspaper to keep warm. Though she owned two railroads and had stocks in every major company, she would sit up all night in a day coach rather than spend the money for a Pullman berth on a train. On a blistering summer day, a friend found her under a blazing tin roof in an attic- the sun made the temperature almost unbearable. What was she doing? She was sorting colored rags from the white ones because the junk man paid a penny more a pound for sorted rags. She died and left a fortune but no friends.

What distinguished Evangeline Booth from Hetty Green, and for that matter from thousands of others considered important?

First, Her generosity. She gave of herself. Her secret, so she told people, was to touch the lives of others so they were “a little better” because she had crossed their path. She gave of her self without reservation, without thought of what she got in return.

The second quality that distinguished her was her genuineness. She was authentic and unpretentious. Her clothes or her looks were never what people remembered. She was remembered as a person who radiated warmth and care.

The third quality that motivated her was the fact that she has convictions and refused to take the path of least resistance. 

The fourth quality that distinguished this woman was her desire to please God rather than herself.

The fifth quality that separated her from not only the women of her day but from the men as well is that she was her own person. Anyone who had the boldness to don a swimming suit in retirement and spring from the board just as she had done fifty years before, had to be secure, not caring great deal what others might say. 

May God give us more women who are as strong as Evangeline Booth and as committed to the cause of touching the lives of those around them. Yes, indeed.

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