In almost a decade of writing for Pulpit Helps, Bernard R. DeRemer has chronicled the lives of more than 5 dozen of God’s choice leaders from across recent centuries. One great leader who has stood out to me is R. G. LeTourneau (1888-1996).
He writes that R.G. did not have a promising beginning. Throughout his school days in Vermont he was plagued by a chronically short attention span (today it would be called “Attention Deficit Disorder”). But one outstanding characteristic was his burning desire to pull apart toys to see how they worked. This action was prophetic for his future.
His formal education ended at the 8th grade when he left school for an iron foundry. In spite of his early shortcomings he became an inventor, businessman, builder, engineer, and a Christian missionary who helped shape the U.S.A. through the mid-1900s. R.G. LeTourneau grew up in a home with Christian values. He said, “I knew the right way but I had forgotten about it.” But following a series of church revival meetings in 1905 he committed his life to the Lord. From that moment on his Christian values grew. He moved to San Francisco where he was shaken by the famous 1906 earthquake and escaped with his life.
After that, he moved to Stockton, California where he began honing his skills as a mechanic and later built a successful automobile dealership. He survived many hardships: a stock car crash, a flash fire in his repair shop, the Spanish flu, a bankruptcy, and his first child died at only 4 months. But he sustained a right attitude.
These issues did not destroy him but forged his spiritual priorities which fostered submission to God. He made a confession, “I had been seeking my own life first.” He began to apply the gospel to his life by fervently seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. This was a major turning point for him. From then on success came rapidly.
He designed and built more efficient earth scrapers, massive frontend loaders, and bulldozers. He is credited with inventing and perfecting nearly every piece of heavy earthmoving equipment in use today. He supplied 70% of such machinery to allied forces during WW II. He founded LeTourneau College (now a University) in Longview, Texas to integrate Christian education into the lives of young people to help them seek to conduct their business and family lives according to the principles of God’s Word.
Also, he established the LeTourneau Foundation to help fund Christian Ministries. He proclaimed, “I think the secret of a real out-and-out Christian life is to fall in love with the Lord. Let’s just ask God to do a new thing in our lives and help us to know Him, to love Him and to worship Him.” From his humble beginning and unpromising start, he went on to achieve great things for the Lord and many others. He serves as a great example for us today to put God first, seek His will, and trust Him. For more info you can visit us at www.JoyChristianMinistries.com. | Back to the blog.
A young woman enrolled in a basic acting class during her first semester at UCLA. For her first assignment she performed a monologue from The Madwoman of Chaillot, playing the lead part, the maid. Although she put her act to memory and crammed like crazy, she was nervous, especially after she saw her classmates perform so well.
“It was my turn. I was the only one left. I didn’t feel so okay anymore. The stage in the tiny classroom was about six inches high and I tripped stepping up on it. I turned around and introduced my presentation…I got it out and I was word-perfect. My homework had paid off in that respect and I had added a personal touch to the character of the little maid by making small circles in the air with a clenched fist so it would look as if she were dusting something. I returned to my seat with my heart in my ears, thankful to God it was all over. I don’t recall any clapping. But it wasn’t all over. Now came the critiques and the instructor skinned me alive. She wound up giving me a D-. She explained to the class: ‘I’m giving this student a D- because she at least had the piece memorized; However, it was an F performance.’ She dismissed us with, ‘Now, choose new partners for your next act.’ Everyone left but me. I felt as empty as the classroom. I thought, I can quit or stay. It was my choice. I decided to stay. I had nowhere to go but up.”
This student was Carol Burnett, who went on to become one of television’s most beloved actresses and comedians. She used that embarrassing failure as a launching pad for her success. (Carol Burnett, “One more time” Random House, 1986, p186).
Did you know that King David was a man who failed miserably in his affair with Bathsheba? Maybe even worse than his adultery and murder of her husband Uriah was his lack of conscience about his sin. How could such an insensitive man be a king? But he repented and went on to be the greatest king in Israel’s history.
The moral: failure is not defeat. It is, only if a person allows it to be. Failure can be a stepping stone to success if we will truly learn a lesson from it then not repeat it. Giving up, after failure, is an option that seems to lurk in the shadows. That little discouraging voice can be very convincing. Observe King David: he didn’t quit after failure and went on to greater heights.
It is amazing how many personal stories from failure to success, we have heard, to think only if that were me. These people are not super special. They just learned the secret of not giving up.
My dad use to say, “Son, quitters never win and winners never quit, so keep going!” This little adage got stuck in my head. He was a great example when I was growing up. Many times I have reflected how he faced adversities even experiencing failures, but his determination was so strong that he would not quit. He kept his focus. He prayed. He worked it out. He was successful. For more info you can visit us at www.JoyChristianMinistries.com
An old legend speaks about how birds got their wings. It says that birds were first made without wings. Then God made wings, put them in front of the wingless birds, and said to them, “Come, take up these burdens and bear them.” The birds hesitated at first but soon obeyed and picked up the wings in their beaks. Because the wings were heavy, the birds laid them on their shoulders. Then to their amazement the wings started to grow and soon attached themselves to their bodies. The birds quickly discovered how to use these new appendages and were soon soaring through the air. What had once been a heavy burden now became an instrument that enabled the birds to soar and go where they could never go before.
Yes, this story is fiction, but like the wingless birds, the duties and tasks that seem like a big burden and a heavy trial to us often become the very means that God uses to lift us up to build character in us. God’s plan is for our tests to become our helpers. To refuse to bend our shoulders to receive a load is to decline a new opportunity for growth and increase.
Have you ever stopped to examine weeds? They serve as a reminder of judgment and a result of the curse on the ground after the fall of Adam and Eve. But if you look closely, you can see signs of mercy in that judgment. Some weeds have gorgeous flowers, tiny blue bells, ruffled purple blooms, and even magnificent displays of gold. And in the same way, our troubles and trials, if we look closely, we can see beautiful signs of God’s mercy and grace. There is always something good coming out of our trials if we are looking for it.
A man once asked a store clerk, “What makes this set of china so much more expensive than that one over there? They are almost identical.” The clerk replied, “The more expensive set of china has had more done to it. You see, it had to be put through the kiln twice because the flowers are on a yellow background. On the less expensive set, they are on a plain white background. The expensive set had to be put through the fire once for the yellow background, and then a second time for the design on it.”
And so it is in the life of the believer who desires God’s best. There are many times that we must go through the kiln with all of its fire and heat until we fully display God’s intended design in our life. If each believer will look for the best in his own life he will accept the tests because he knows that he will come forth as pure gold. He knows that he is not going to burn up but is going to power up.
An unknown poet wrote, “A brook would lose its song if God removed the rocks.” And we would lose our quality of life if all obstacles, troubles, and woes were not present to test our mettle. The greater the test a product receives, the greater its value if it will hold up under the test. God intends for you to be the best so don’t shrink back when you are tested. For more info you can visit us at www.JoyChristianMinistries.com
Pastor J.C. Myers, III
Pastor J.C. founded Joy Christian Ministries in 1992. He was Sr. Pastor at Joy Christian Ministries in West Sacramento, California from 1992-2016. He was succeeded by his 2nd son, Pastor Brandon Myers who had been under his father's ministry and teaching for 39 years.