October Baby

I got a call from a friend about a friend. His daughter had taken a drug overdose and was in an area hospital. By the time I got there, the crisis had abated; she was stable and actually talking to medical personnel and family members. When I walked in I was shocked at this girl’s beauty. I’m telling you, she had the face of an angel, an absolutely gorgious girl. She was raise by adopted parents who loved her dearly but she could remember her biological parents who basically abandoned her and wanted wanted nothing to do with her.

This amazed me because I had just seen the movie OCTOBER BABY about a young girl going through similar situation. She had tried to establish a relationship with her biological mother only to be cruelly rejected  a second time. The young lady bravely returned to her adopted parents who were waiting with open arms. The young girl [in the movie] was very troubled because her adopted parents had tried to shelter her from the painful truth. She seems to be at peace because she tried and with the help of a good priest, she forgave her biological parents for trying to abort her. The story has a happy ending because the young girl is extremely loved by adopted parents, family and friends. Rejection is hard for anyone at any age to deal with but it is cruel and mean to reject a child.

OctBaby_KAwT_1528x2162

Standing there in a hospital room with a young lady who had tried to take her life, I felt breath of inspiration and so I began to share with this beautiful young lady who I had not meet until this day. I moved around to the foot of the bed but still I had trouble getting her to make eye contact or to focus. She would look at me for a split second and then look away. I talked to her gently and finally got her to focus. I told her about the movie and recommended that she go see it. I also mentioned that she could not let the rejection of her biological parents turn her bitter. She was surround by parents who loved her which is far more than most kids have these days. It was not so much what I said that startled me: It was refreshing way the Holy Spirit took control of my lips and literally gave me words to speak. The Doctor, a female psychiatrist, came in and ask me to leave which I was obliged to do but the father stopped me. He said to the doctor, I want my friend who is a pastor to stay: I want him to hear the entire story.” Out of courtesy to my good friend, I stayed and listened. I never said a word because I am not a professional counselor and certainly not a psychiatrist. Shortly after the doctor left, I finished my conversation, had prayer and then left.

I thought about this beautiful girl all the way home. Why couldn’t she accept her adopted parents as her real parents. Why was she giving them the grief when all they had done was love her? Do you think it is because her biological parents didn’t care? How can you hurt someone who doesn’t care? It’s like, “Hey mom, I going to kill myself!” The biological parents–“Go ahead, we don’t care.” This is bound to be painful for a child to deal with.

Not long after I got home, I got a text from the friend who encouraged me to make the visit. He had just got off the phone with the dad [a good man], he said, “Jim wanted me to tell you, how much he appreciated the visit. It meant a lot to the family.” This was one of the exceptional moments of my life: the Spirit of God just took control. I could sense what was happening while it was happening and I was excited to be a part of it.  I wish every visit went so well but they don’t.

Out of The Mouth of Babes

A child was ask to give a report on the entire bible and this is what he wrote:

In the beginning, which occurred  near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, water and gas. The bible says, “The LORD your God is one.” But I think He has to be older than one. Anyway, “God said, give me a light,” and some one gave Him a light. Then God made the world. He spilt the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked but not embarrassed because mirrors had not been invented. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one rotten apple so they were driven from the Garden of Eden. I don’t know what they were driven in, I don’t think they had cars back then. Adam and Eve had a son whose name was Cain and he hated his brother as long as he was Abel.

Noah was one very important person in the Old Testament but one of his sons was a Ham . Noah built this huge boat and put some animals on it, he asked his neighbors to join him but they said they would take a rain check. Then there was this man named Jacob who was more important than his brother Esau. Jacob talked Esau into trading him birthmark for a bowl of soup.

Jacob had 12 sons but one of them stood out because he wore a really loud sports coat made of many colors. Joseph was as smart as a whip but his bothers were as dumb as a rock. Another guy I really like is Moses; he was the cool dude who lead the Israel Lights out of Egypt. Moses shook his stick at Pharaoh and brought on the ten Plagues. I can’t remember all ten but there was lice, mice and nothing nice. He send gnats, frogs, hail and quale. Pharaoh also took their cell phone and cut off their cable.

God took Moses up on this high mountain and shattered a rock with his bare fist and then God shot fire out of his finger and wrote the Ten Commandment. I did learn all Ten:

  1. Don’t let anyone or anything come before God.
  2. Don’t make carved images.
  3. Don’t use God name when you mad.
  4. Remember Sunday and go to church.
  5. Humor your father and mother.
  6. Don’t murder stuff.
  7. Don’t take what don’t belong to you.
  8. Don’t cheat on your wife.
  9. Don’t tell lies on your neighbor even if he’s a jerk.
  10. Don’t drink, smoke, chew tobacco or covet your neighbor’s new Polaris Ranger.

And yeah, I know general Joshua who fought the battle of Geritol and the walls came tumbling down. Then there was David who became king by killing a giant with his sling shot. David had a spoiled son name Solomon who had 300 wives and 700 porcupines. My teacher said he was wise but he doesn’t sound wise to me because he had 1,000 mother-in-laws. I can’t imagine buying 1,000 birthday presents. If his wives were like my mom, Solomon had 1,000 bosses. He just doesn’t sound that wise.

Then there were the minor league prophets. Men like Jonah who was a hardhead. He did not want to obey God so he went deep sea fishing and he hooked a fish so big that it pulled him overboard. Then the fish swallowed Jonah. God was through with Jonah so He made the fish sick at its stomach and it barfed Jonah up on the beach.

Then there is the New Testament. Jesus is the Star of the New Testament. He was born in a born. I may have been born in a barn myself because my mother is always saying, “Close the door, were you born in a barn?” During His life time, Jesus had a lot of run ins with the Pharisees and Republicans. Jesus had 12 disciples and one of them was bad to the bone. His name was Judas Asparagus. He was so bad that they named him after a terrible vegetable. Jesus was great;  he could heal leopards and he preached famous sermons like: the Germans on the mount.

The Pharisees and Republican kept on until they got Jesus arrested. Jesus stood trial before Pontius Pilot. He is the one who flew Jesus to Egypt when he was a baby. The bible says, In the days of Herod the king, when Pontius was Pilate, Joseph took flight to Egypt. He may have been good at flying air planes but he was a lousy judge. He didn’t even try to do the right thing, he just washed his hands and threw in the towel.

Anyway, Jesus died because of our sins but He didn’t stay dead; maybe He just took a long nap. He appeared out of nowhere and spooked His Disciples. Then He went up to heaven but He said He was coming back someday.

Hallmark Movies, A Christmas Tradition

My wife and I have established a Christmas Tradition. On Sunday nights, we watch the Hallmark Christmas movie that she has taped from the night before or from Sunday night. You have to understand how this tradition got started.

Our taste, my wife and I, is totally different:

  • She likes the NFL–I’d rather watch paint dry.
  • She loves Golf–I’d rather watch grass grow.
  • She likes the YOUNG AND RUTHLESS–I’d rather have a root canal.
  • She likes Wheel of Fortune–I’d rather be water boarded.
  • She watches the Morning Show {religiously} with Kathy Lee and Michael Strahand. [The black guy with the space between his teeth. He is a very smart man and I suppose the females would say he is good looking. He is no Jason Bowling but who is?]–I’d rather hear be on the computer.
  • She watches Island Hunters-I’d rather have a spend the night party with my nine grandkids. [She found an Island last night for 4 million. We ought to buy it and put all these Muslims on it]

I could go on and on but you get the point: we do not like the same programs. We are married and we intend to stay together so we agree to watch certain things together but it is a short list. The HALLMARK Christmas movies is on the list.

Earlier tonight, we watched THE BRIDGE. Don’t waste your time. It is about a heathen woman who believes in works and refuses to go to church with her sweet husband, even on Christmas Eve. She is a goody-two-shoes who thinks her works will get her into heaven. Her faith is in herself and her husband. He wants her faith to be in something bigger.

I am an incurable romantic but the romantic plot is just not right. The guy breaks up with his life time sweet heart who I find attractive and falls in love with a twiggy. The girl is so skinny, if she wore a hat, she would look like an 8 penny nail. Listen, I am an old man and I want to see at least one attractive woman per movie. The old heifer that refuses to go to church is no longer pretty to me.

C-old-sexual-relations

By the way, the setting goes back and forth between Seattle, Washington and Franklin, Tennessee where the two lovers are attending Belmont College known for its conservatory in music. I like both cities but if I had pick one, it would be Franklin. Twiggy’s father, living in Seattle, is a control freak who cares more about himself than he does his daughters happiness. I don’t like the guy.

I am not finished but close: it is what I call a slow starter and I wanted to go to my computer after the first commercial break which June FF through but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. This is important to her and I am a sensitive husband. The movie just didn’t get any better until the last 20 minutes or so: suddenly I was hooked but there was not enough time for it to end right.

I am telling June–

  • This is not going to end right and I don’t like it.
  • This old heifer is not going to church, she is full of herself.
  • The controlling father is ruining his daughter’s [Twiggy] life. He lies, he manipulates and has her promised to a nerd. How be it, the boy in Franklin is a musician but I will take a musician over a nerd any day. Actually, I would prefer a guy with a good job who loves to work.
  • It gets down to the two minutes mark and the young lovers [miles a part] are talking on the phone: Control Freak has driven a wedge between them and they don’t understand what is going on. So you have two ‘pitiful’ lovers separated by a lying, conniving, compulsive control freak.
  • There is less than a minute and I telling June…It’s not ending right. The good man ask his unbelieving wife to go with him to the Christmas Eve service and she gives him this speech about how much she adores him and she does not need church or God, he is her object of worship. What is this hussy smoking.
  • THEN IT HAPPENS–scrolling across our 55 incher is the caption…TO BE CONTINUED ON CHRISTMAS 2016.

a payback is hell

Are you kidding me? Our composite age is 135 years. The first thing June said was, “We may be dead by Christmas of 2016.” Listen folks this is no way to treat Senior Adults. I’m going to see if Hallmark has a Facebook page: look out if they do- As Yosemite Sam would say, “I ‘ma goner blast them.”

I told June, I will not remember the first part if I have to wait a year to see the second part. What are these people thinking. Matter of fact, I will forget the entire movie in a few months. I’m telling you, it is crazy: it is not the way you treat Senior Adults, it’s just not right. I’d just as soon watch a movie with a sad ending as to watch one that has no ending.

I know what is going to happen: the stubborn and unsubmissive wife {Metaphorically, the heifer} is going to go to church with her beloved husband. Daddy Control Freak is going to wake up and realize that he can not control his daughter’s life without destroying her happiness. The two lovers will end up under the mistletoe in a full embrace but dog gone it, I wanted to see it on screen. I hate teasers!

Thanksgiving 2015

To be honest with you, I never envisioned a Thanksgiving 2015, my 66th upon this earth. When I was a kid, the year 2000 seemed like science fiction. When I was a child, I thought Christmas would never come and now it’s like a carousal, it comes around very quickly. I was out visiting yesterday: getting the application for kids who need help at Christmas and I stopped by one of our Senior Adults.

This sweet lady is 80 and lives alone in a small cottage. She gave birth to six children and has attended the COLS of three: two killed in motorcycle accident in their teens. The oldest was born in 1953. His little sister was on the cycle with him. It was a tragic night in Danville, Alabama. Then in 2009 her husband passed way on Christmas Eve. The following Christmas at a little past 12:00 none her almost 50 year old daughter was promoted. Perhaps you have faced a lot of tragedy in your life but would you want to swap places with her. She still has three children; two girls and boy and 5 grand children. She now has 6 greats, the same number she began with.

She has her pictures and her memories. A more gracious woman you will not meet. If she is not the lady in Proverbs 31, I don’t know who it would be. She has an humble and thankful attitude. That’s right, I said thankful. She told me during the visit, I am thankful for my children, grandchildren and greats and on this Thanksgiving Eve, she was excited about the all come or Thanksgiving dinner.

She and I reminisced while I was there as both of us recalled thanksgivings long, long ago. I cannot lie, as a child Christmas was the biggest day of the year. There was no day running a close second but as I have aged, THANKSGIVING my be my favorite. For one thing, it kicks off the holiday season and I know that Christmas in just around the corner. I remember our first year in Seminary: we had not planned to come home but June got both Thursday and Friday off at the hospital where she worked and we decided on Wednesday after she got home from work to load up and head for North Alabama. It was during the first energy crisis and I had one Gulf credit card which was good for gas only or a Holiday Inn. In our haste we forgot to fill up the gas tank. It had over a half of a tank which would take us a long way but by the time we got to the Alabama line, it was after 9:00 and we could not find a gulf station open. With less than 1/8 of tank, we were extremely anxious praying our heart out. Our only hope was a gulf station on I-59. In those days the interstate was not complete so we had to go through York where nothing was open. North bound we are praying: Lord let that Gulf station be open. O what a beautiful sight: it was open. You talk about happy campers; we were thrilled. Did we have any money? We had one dime that we found somewhere and it was for a pay phone if something went wrong. No cokes, candy bars or burgers just the desire to me with our family for thanksgiving. We got to Mothers about 2:00 am, crawled in a warm bed and had a great day of thanks.

My greatest THANKSGIVING came in 1986. I had been on an 11 day mission trip to Nigeria. I was a kid, green as a gourd, I got homesick before we got to Atlanta going over and I will not lie, it was the longest 11 days of my life. Out of 24 preachers, I was the only one with an assignment outside of town. Everything imaginable when through my mind. The Nigerians love to make music and it’s a lot like the music in a Tarzan movie, practically every member of choir has a drum. They don’t sit when singing, they stand and they jump, just like in the movies. I was looking around for a big pot of boiling water. I finally got acclimated the day before we came home but I was still anxious to get out of Africa. The instability there creates a certain anxiety. The Missionary who carried us to the airport [later retired in this County and came to see me at DBC a couple of time] carried us before dark. They did dare get out after dark in Lagos.

I was happy to be at the airport and the glass of ice tea that we had at the Missionaries was indeed refreshing. Once inside the airport, we had to wait three hours but I didn’t. We had flown in on a small Nigerian Airliner and that is what I expected to see but in rolls a KLM 747. I told one of the guys, “I sure wish that was our plane.” He said, “It is our plane and they are going to allow us to board early.” I have never been so happy to be on a Dutch Airliner in my life. Once in Amsterdam, I got the first bath I had had in 11 days but I was so excited I could sleep. The next day we boarded another KLM 747, after a one hour delay on the tarmac we lifted off and were Atlanta bound. I have never been so glad to see Atlanta in my life. But, there was a delay in Atlanta: the airline had plane but no crew; the crew was stuck in Detroit in a snow storm. I pestered the airline to death and after telling us in would probably be Thanksgiving, they came up will a crew and we were in the air by 9:00. I felt bad because half of the folks were not close enough to the gate to catch the plane but I warned to leave the gate area.

Be sure your sins will find you out, the little plane that we were in got caught in a horrible thunderstorm and I was already sick with dysentery and diarrhea and I spent most of my time in the john even thought I was supposed to be buckled in my seat.  I assumed we were not going to make it and begin repenting but just a few minutes later we got above the storm and it was raining lightly in Huntsville but no storm. Huntsville was a beautiful sight. June and the kids were there to pick me up and it was a wonderful ride home. We went home for THANKSGIVING the next day but I could not eat; I sat in a recliner the entire time we were there but it was the best THANKSBGIVING ever.

Give Me Ear Plugs or Give Me Death

I carried my wife to med-surge today for some minor surgery on her left foot. It would have been major surgery had it been my foot. She is like her mother, she does not want to be late so we got there 40 minutes early which was a mistake. They told her to be there at 8:00 am and we waited until 8:00 for them to process her; then we waited another 30 minutes to be called back. She got ready and then we waited two hours. I am not great at waiting but I have learned to take reading material which I had but there was a loud mouth woman in the waiting room and between her and blaring TV, I could not concentrate. When they put us in the little cubicle, I thought, it will be quiet here and I can read. Wrong, they put the big mouth heifer in the stall next to us and she didn’t shut up. I got up and stuffed Kleenex in my ears and I could still hear her. I started praying for them to come get one of us and give me some relief. She was grading on my nerves so bad that I was tempted to bang my head against the wall.

Woman with open mouth

Peace, be still!

As providence would have it, they came and got my wife and so I got to go back out to the waiting area. I am no more than seated until, she pops through the doors; they came got her husband just after they got my wife. She pops our her phone and begins showing folks pics and videos, all were funny I suppose because they were laughing and making enough noise to wake the dead. I went to the parking lot and started doing laps around the building. It was a beautiful day and I enjoyed the walk. When I got back inside, a second woman had showed up and she was talking to her mother on her cell phone. This woman was not young and I can’t imagine how old her mother was but she yacks and yacks…I’m thinking woman, no one wants to hear you talk to your mama but she goes on and on and on. I can’t leave the building because I am waiting on word from my wife who is in surgery. Finally, a nurse comes to my rescue: she said, Mr. Bailey, follow me please and I did. She took me to a sound proof room and told me to wait for the doctor. I was thrilled: no TV, no yacking, no cell phones–it was like a piece of heaven.

I had rather be water boarded is to be in a waiting room with those two women. I take a root canal before going through that experience again. There are three places where you don’t yack: Church, Library’s and Hospitals. For Pete’s sake or Jack’s, don’t carry on extended phone conversations when you are in confined quarters with other people. Be courteous, be respectful of others.

Remember the story of Gadarene demoniac: that sucker hollowed and screamed all night long but that was because he was full of devils. When Jesus drove the demons out, he settled down. He was calm. Get rid of those noisy demons. There is nothing wrong with peace and quiet.

Where is the A/C?

I generally start my office hours reading and in the midst of my morning reading, my secretary brought me a personal card which had come through the mail. I opened it immediately but did not recognize the name. As I read the note, it all began to come to me. I was raised with this woman, we went to the same church and same school. She has suffered a lot of adversity. She lost her mom at a very early age, then her husband divorced her and left her with a couple of kids that she was forced to raise alone. She had a hard time so she moved back home with her father where she has been for the last thirty years. She is now 64 and her daddy is 83. She had cancer and had to have a leg amputated up to the hip. She moves from place to place via the wheel chair and now she is the principle care giver to her dad who is confined to a hospital bed after suffering a stroke. In her note, she told me that he had given up and wanted me to pray for him. I thought it would be best to do it in person so after my hospital rounds, I drove to the neighboring county where they live.

I was not expecting what I found. I walked into a house that was 80 plus degrees. She had about six fans blowing air in every direction. I said, “Pat, do you not have A/C?” “Oh, we have it but we don’t run it; daddy doesn’t like the cold air,” she said. “You need the air,” I said, to which she replied, “We have plenty of air.” I said, “Yes you do but it is all hot.” “Oh, we are fine,” she said. “How on earth do you sleep at night in this heat?” I asked. So help me she said, “It gets cold here at night.” It was 96* outside and between 80-90 in the house, a brick house, and she said it would get cold at night. I’m thinking her definition of cold is 79*. I wanted to fix the problem but she insisted that everything was fine. I said, “You have to need something, tell me what it is and I’m going to get it.” She said, “We don’t need a thing.” “You are bound to need something,” I said, but she said, “We are fine, we do not need anything.” I had prayer and left. I did not leave complaining, I left giving God thanks: here was a family living in poverty, less than 2 miles from where I was raised but she insisted that they did not need a thing. I had no idea that anyone in that community lived in such conditions.

miami_beachThis reminded me of an old story that happened way back in 1975. We had just been called to our first full time church after graduating seminary. I had visions of grandeur, boy was I in for a rude awakening. I had every intention of being a good Southern Baptist and attending every convention from gavel to gavel. I had no doubt that a big church with a big salary would call me just as soon as the word got out concerning my oratorical skills. Those dreams were completely shattered in less than five years. The church were I served had $250 for convention expense but what I did not know was that two deacons got this in the budget so the pastor could go to the Evangelism Conference which was in State. The money was more than adequate for the conference but exceeding inadequate for an SBC in Miami, Florida. We had one child at the time and she was 11 months old and addicted to A/C. We leave early Monday morning and drive 18 hours to Miami Beach. Keep in mind, we left with $250 dollars and gas was 87 cents a gallon. We had no motel reservations and got put in one that did not have A/C. Immediately, we report the problem and they assure us that it is being repairs and should be up and running any minute. They lied! We rode Hannah around in the car to get her to sleep but as soon as we got back in the hot room, she would wake up. We went through this for two days. We talked to some folks who were more experienced and they told us, they are not going to fix the A/C, you have to find another place. Needless to say, the motel would not give us a refund.  We checked out and found a little old motel 6 type deal but at least it had air but we realized that we were running out of money. We were tired and about to be broke.

Sunshine Skyway leading into St. Pete

Sunshine Skyway leading into St. Pete

I had an aunt in St. Pete so we left the next morning, drove through the Everglades to the West side and went up the Gulf coast to St. Pete. We got there in the middle of the evening and we were so excited about having good air and something to eat. We walk in and feel the heat and I began looking for the wall unit which obviously was not on. I said, “Where is your A/C?” My uncle Arthur, who was a very funny guy, said, “We don’t have A/C.” I said, “You live in Florida where it is 110 in the shade and you don’t have A/C.” He said, “We don’t need it, there is always a breeze.” I said, “our baby has not sleep the last three nights because of the heat so we will be up again tonight.” “No you will not,” he said, “we have a attic fan and you will be begging me to turn it off about 2 in the morning.” They gave us the bedroom that had the attic fan right over the bed and we turned in on high and no one needed cover, it did cool off during the night but there was not way I was cutting that fan off. When Hannah woke up the next morning, I started packing the car: “Where are you going?” My sweet aunt Ruth asked. “We are going home,” I said. “But you just got here, we want you to stay a few days,” she said. I said, “Aunt Ruth, I love you and the only time I have ever been here was in January or March and it was cool enough then but we are not use to this heat and we have to get this baby home where she can sleep.” Besides that, we had almost run out of money.

That was our first and last Southern Baptist Convention as a family. June would divorce me if I hornswoggled her into going to another. She hates any form of a church business meeting. I have personally attended about 10 since but only on Tuesday. I have never gotten to attend a convention gavel to gavel with all expenses paid. I thought I would before I retired but it is not looking good.

Jezebel In The Flesh

I was reading through I kings and came across the infamous story of Jezebel and Ahab. Ahab coveted a vineyard that was near his palace but the man would not sale because the land was an inheritance from his father who inherited it from his father all the way back to the days of Joshua. Ahab went home pouting and Jezebel started the 20 questions. She doesn’t have a hard time getting the truth out of Ahab who is whimpering like a sick puppy. She in turn uses his stationary and seal to send a message to the town leaders. Long story short, she has the man who owns the property executed and then she sends Ahab to claim property rights. God tells Elijah what is going on and sends him to confront Ahab…this is how the confrontation begins….

Jezebel

Jezebel

Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” And Elijah answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord.  Behold, I will bring evil upon you, and will utterly sweep you away, and will cut off from Ahab every male, both bond and free in Israel because you have provoked Me to anger, and because you have made Israel sin.

Then there is an editorial comment by the writer: Surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife incited him.

It amazes me how women can totally dominate men. When make jokes about being hen-pecked but it is really a serious problem. The sad thing is that the men who are living under the spell of a Jezebel don’t seem to know what is going on or don’t care. A lot of men evade responsibility to begin with and if the woman decided to be the head of the house, they gladly yield. I think Ahab would be in this category.

In our last year of Seminary, we served a small rural church in central Mississippi. One Sunday night after church the Treasurer and his wife invited June and I to come over for supper. We were sitting at the kitchen table having a very good time when the phone rang [long before cell phones]. My friend Buddy answered the phone and then he said, “It is for you Bro. Jack.” I was shocked, who knew I was there and why would they call me while I am visiting with another family? Long story short, it was Jezebel in the flesh. I said hello and then the volcano of bitterness erupted. For the next three minutes I listened to her rant and rave. She gave me a piece of mind and thank goodness she ran out of pieces about three minutes into the conversation. When she shut up, I tried to talk but she hung up and that was a mistake. That set off an inter rage which I kept subdued. I finished my visit, determined that she would not ruin my night. The people we were visiting with knew she was crazy so we had a few laughs and then June and I went home. We had not more than got into the house and this women was standing at our back door raving and ranting again.

I pushed the door open which pushed her aside and I walked right by her as if she was not there and I went to the pickup where her husband was sitting. I tapped on his window and finally, he rolled it down enough that I could talk to him. Mean time, she is behind me ranting and raving and I am ignoring her. I said to her husband, “If you don’t get your wife in this truck and take her home, you are going to have to get out so you and I can settle this because I don’t settle these kind of issues by dealing with the wife.” He looked at me like he was in a bit of shock but I just stood there and then he said, “Lee, get in the truck.” She is still on the war path and acts as if she did not hear what he said, but he repeated with a little more authority and the crazy heifer got in the truck and as they back out, she turned on him and was raving at him.”

She didn’t mess with me after that but she tried her luck with June one Wednesday night and that was a mistake on her part. June calmly dressed her down and in front of a group of women. She turned in a huff and left. When our Summer Revival came up, she thought she would try her luck with the Evangelist who just happened to be my father in the ministry. She grabbed him after the service and tried to pull him into a room where she could talk to him privately but he refused to go. He said, “I don’t council with women unless someone else is present and in this case it has to be brother Jack.” She was mad but agreed. As soon as the door was closed, she lit into me and I just stood there. She raved and ranted, calling me all kinds of names and then Bro. Inman interrupted her. Bro. Inman was a very mild-mannered man and she was shocked and I was thankful. He said, “Lady, you have said enough and I want you to know that God is going to hold you accountable for everything you have said about this man of God. I know he is not perfect but I also know that He is God called and God anointed and you have lifted your hand against God’s anointed and that is a dangerous thing.” He would have said more I suppose but she bolted out of the room.

Before Bro. Inman left to return to Marks, Mississippi; he said, “Jack, in all my years of serving churches, I have never seen anything like this woman. I am going to pray for God to move you somewhere else.” I thanked him for his concern but told him the truth: I had to deal with a Jezebel in the little mission church I served in East New Orleans. Her name was Hattie Lange and I think you can find her in a couple of my stories. I said, “Bro. Inman, God may have called me to pastor crazy people, who knows!”

I’ll tell you what I didn’t know: my first church out of Seminary was run by a woman [Matriarch]. She was married to a good man but he didn’t have a prayer; she was physically intimidating and he cowed in her presence. If you could have gotten him away from her, he would have been alright. The entire family moved their letter in just a few months, once that saw that they were not going to get things their way. The man died with cancer a few months later. He sent word that he wanted to see me and I went. I was shocked but they let me in. The family was not cordial but they took me to his bed room where he and I got to talk alone. He made a full apology and asked for forgiveness. I was broken-hearted and gladly accepted his apology. He was a good man who was influenced by an evil woman. As far as I know, she never repented of anything.

The folks at Danville [where I have served for the last 36 years] could not understand why I was so excited about their new CONSTITUTION and BY-LAWS but once I read them, I knew it would be impossible to abide by them and have a Jezebel running the show. Fortunately for me, there were enough good men to help me enforce the By-Laws when necessary. Recently in a Deacons meeting, our senior deacon said, “I don’t know which is responsible for our prosperity as a church, the By-Laws or Bro. Jack’s leadership. Without a moment’s hesitation I said, “It is the By-Laws.” Not a single man in that room including my son understood where I was coming from. I was not faking humility, I was being honest, it was the By-Laws. Any church can grow with a good pastor if he is allowed to be the pastor. DBC is the only church that I have served that allowed me to be the pastor. It is something I am grateful for, an opportunity to lead. Every church will let you preach and visit but not every church is looking for a leader.

A Real Mother

real motherIn 1 Kings 3 we find the story of the two prostitutes who were arguing over a baby; both claimed to be the mother and Solomon was decide who would get the child. After several minutes of heated debate, Solomon ask for a sword and pretended to cut the child in half and give each mother a half of a lifeless baby but the real mother protested, “No, do not kill the child, let her raise him.” The other woman said, “It’s ok with me to cut him in two, that way neither of us get him.” Solomon said, “Give the baby to the mother that wants him to live, she is the real mother.”

Many years ago on a MOTHER’S DAY, I made a challenge that I would later regret. I said, “I want everyone to talk to their mother today and thank them for giving you birth. Your mother may not be perfect, but she carried you in her womb and she gave you birth. The least we can do is thank them.” It seemed like a harmless challenge; what could possibly go wrong with calling your mother and thanking her for carrying you till birth and not aborting you.

Later that evening, about 2:00 pm, the door bell rang and it was for me. A young man in his early 20’s stood there sobbing. We found a place where we could talk and he told me his story. I warn you, it is unbelievable.

He said, “Bro. Jack, I did what you said, I went home and called my mother and I thanked her for giving me birth and told her I loved her. She said, ‘Don’t ever call me again.'” It is the most unbelievable thing I’ve ever heard a mother say. I can’t imagine being rejected once and this young man had been rejected twice by the woman who gave him birth. She told him, “Don’t every call me again. Don’t try to contact me and I do not want to meet your children.” Folks this is ruthless. She broke her own sons heart and never batted an eye. Jezebel was a better mother than this woman.

I’ve known some sorry mothers in my life time. In our congregation we have a dozen adopted children that came from mothers who were so strung out of drugs that they kids were taken from them. Unfortunately, drugs do cause a lot of women to be very poor mothers. I’ve known some vain mothers; I’m talking about mothers who put themselves first over their children but I have never heard of a mother who would tell her son, “Don’t ever call me again and I don’t want to meet your kids.” At the time, the young man had two small children, now he has three. They have never met their grandmother. She doesn’t want to know them or anything about them. This woman is bitter and mean spirited and she will die a lonely and miserable death. I can’t imagine a woman being so cruel to her own child.

Unbelievable Story

Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth

The date is April 12 and the year is 2015. Two incredible things happened today: Jordon Spieth, a 21 year old Texan, won the Master’s golf tournament in record fashion. He either broke or tied some 24 records including best first round score, second, third and tied for the best 4th round score. He had more birdie’s than any previous golfer and he is the only golfer to reach -19 in the tournament. In his interview after the win, he seems very gracious and humble. At the age of 21, in in less than 4 months on the tour, he has earned over 2 million dollars and is currently ranked 2nd in the world. It is an incredible story.

As incredible as this story is: there is one that is more unbelievable. I married a woman some 44 years ago that did not care a thing about sports and I mean any sport. She was a bit of a St. Louis Cardinal fan because she and her dad use to listen to the Cardinals on the radio. In those days, people in our neck of the woods could get only one station and it was KMOX out of St. Louis. At that time, I was a sports fiend. I loved the NFL. One of the reasons I never preached pass the noon hour is so I would not

Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson

miss the kickoff of an NFL game. At the age of five, my son could name every NFL franchise and I am sure my passion for the game is what inspired him. I also loved baseball and basketball. NBA, college, it did not matter. I was a huge Boston Celtic fan back in the day of Dave Cowens and John Havlicek.  Plus I was an avid Alabama football fan. I am talking die-hard, extreme, fanatical fan. My athletic career in high school was less than stellar but I had a ball playing intermural sports in college. I played softball, football and basketball and loved every minute. When I got to Seminary, I discovered a gym on the campus with it’s own league so I played there for two years and then after Seminary, I played on church softball teams for 25 years. In my late 40’s I began to get concerned about those vicious line drives and so I retired. My son was a very good high school athlete and I was more than involved in his career but after he graduated my love for sports began to grow cold. At one time, I even gave up Alabama football.

Mark Ritzh

Mark Richt

Over the years, especially the last decade, I have lost my love for sports. I have not watched an NBA game in two years. I don’t even watch the NFL anymore except for playoffs and even that depends on who is playing. Here is the mystery, while I am becoming less and less of a sports fan, my wife is becoming more and more of a fan. She watches four times as much sports as I do. She is an avid fan of the Manning brothers. She was a Boston Celtic fan until they traded Ray Allen who was her favorite player. She is a huge Georgia Bulldog fan because she admires Mark Richt. The only thing she and I share in common is the Cardinals in baseball: they are my National League team. I guess the biggest shock to me is her love for golf and her favorite tournament in the MASTERS. She does not miss a single hole: she watches from start to finish. She likes Phil Mickelson. When she first started watching golf, I thought, this is a passing fad, she will give it up sooner or later but that has not been the case and today, I watched it with her when I could have been watching baseball on the other TV.

This is a incredible story that some folks have a hard time believing because they have heard stories about Jack Bailey passion for sports and disagreements with officials. When I tell folks that I don’t watch many sports programs anymore and that my wife is the sports fan in the house, they think I am pulling their leg but I am not. If you had ask me 40 years ago, “Jack, do you believe that one day June will become more of a lover of sports than yourself?” I would have laughed at you. I did not dream of such a thing being possible. Trust me, it is possible.

As I conjured this story, I could not help but think about the broad spectrum between young Jordan Spieth and some of the young people in our circle of influence. We have a 21 year old grandson and trust me, he would love to make 1.8 million in a weeks time. The weird kids today are the ones who live with their biological parents. In our community, that number has been shrinking for years. Most of the kids come from broken homes. Some cope pretty well but they are all hurting and some are visibly depressed. Jordon Spieth is living a dream and they are caught in a nightmare. Why? I do not know but today I witnessed both ends of the spectrum.

Maxey Jarman

fred smithIn our very first issue of LEADERSHIP, we ran an extensive interview with Fred Smith. It evoked the strongest response of anything we’ve published to date. We’ve had many requests since then to get Fred into these pages again.

It seems only natural for his first article this year to be about Maxey Jarman, who passed away last fall at age seventy-six. He influenced Fred a great deal. Here was a man who took a company from 75 employees to 75,000, making Genesco in the late ’60s the world’s largest apparel company. Yet when reverses came, Maxey maintained a tremendous spiritual resiliency and kept contributing energetically, without bitterness, to many Christian causes. He was a man who rose to the very top in business, yet was uncompromising in his spiritual commitments.

From his close relationship with him over forty-three years, Fred gives us insights into Maxey Jarman’s character and practices.

I first met Maxey Jarman back in the mid-thirties when I was about twenty. I had been teaching a Sunday school class in a nurses’ training program at Nashville General Hospital. One of the nurses became an industrial nurse, and she introduced me to her boss, the director of personnel. I said to myself, “I’d like a job like that.” I had no training or experience, but I knew General Shoe (later Genesco) was one company in town where there might be such a position. So, I decided to meet Maxey Jarman, the president.

Maxey always bought gas at the station next to the plant. I waited until he drove up in his red Chrysler, then walked over and introduced myself. We just shook hands; he probably thought it was very strange, for in his early thirties he wasn’t very gregarious.

Mary Alice and I had just married and rented out one of our two bedrooms to a factory worker at General Shoe. She told me of some labor problems at work, and I called Mr. Jarman and offered my viewpoint. He invited me to his office. We had a very short conversation, and I heard no more about it. But he impressed me so much that when I heard he taught a Sunday school class, I started attending. They had me lead singing and eventually elected me president of the class.

Maxey Jarman

Maxey Jarman

One Wednesday night after church in 1941, Maxey invited me to have a Coke at the Rexall Drug Store. We sat on fountain stools, and he asked me what I planned to do in life. “I’d like to be a personnel man,” I told him. He asked if I’d ever had any experience, and I said, “No, I’ve never even seen a personnel department. But I met a guy who’s a personnel man, and I’d like that kind of work.”

That night I told Mary Alice I thought he would offer me a job, and no matter what he offered, I was going to take it because he was a man I wanted to be associated with. I sensed then I wanted to be with him for life. There was something significantly different about this man. Being a preacher’s kid in the poor end of town, I’d become somewhat cynical about Christians. But Maxey personified reality. This was so valuable to me at that time . . . Here was a real man, a genuine person; and our years of friendship intensified that evaluation. When he offered me an opening in personnel, I was elated.

I had never seen a man so serious about wanting to reach the truth. For forty-three years I wrote my observations of Maxey on scraps of paper, everything from church bulletins to napkins, and last year I compiled them-500 pages of separate paragraphs. Then I spent three weeks at the lake doing little but reading them and thinking. When I told him about this, he said, “I’m amazed. What a waste of time!”

I’ve learned much from Maxey, but for this article I’ll distill just a little. I started to say, “Some of these principles, perhaps, you will want to emulate.” But Maxey would have been embarrassed to be held up as an example.

Maxey had an awesome sense of responsibility. He was not only involved, he was enveloped in what he did. He treated every responsibility as a “call,” but never named it that. The Sunday night Maxey was taken to the hospital barely able to breathe, he kept delaying because he was to speak at the evening service and “The pastor is counting on me.” One of his favorite stories was of Jeb Stuart, who signed his letters to General Robert E. Lee, “Yours to count on.” Occasionally, I would close my letters to him “YTCO.” You could count on Maxey.

Maxey was cause oriented. He sublimated his ego and personal interests to whatever he as

trying to accomplish. Most people simply cannot do that. Whatever he undertook, he did it “with all his might,” from building the business to heading the committee for the revision of the King James Bible.

For instance, Maxey owned Tiffany Jewelry as a part of buying Bonwit Teller. When we’d go to restaurants in New York, people would look up and say, “There’s Maxey Jarman who owns Tiffany.” He enjoyed this connection with Tiffany, but then he sold it. I asked him why. “Because it doesn’t fit our apparel company.” Now, to sacrifice the ego satisfaction of being known as the man who owns Tiffany just to be more efficient for a larger responsibility requires dedication. Incidentally, the Tiffany illustration also shows how committed he was to Principle versus Money. A well-known promotional company would have paid more for Tiffany, but Maxey was afraid they would prostitute the name. He wanted to ensure the quality of Tiffany, so he sold it to Walter Hoving.

Maxey thought little about himself. His mind was occupied with opportunities and how he was going to get the job done. He thought of himself as little as anyone I’ve ever met. Most think of their private interests first, even when working for God. He didn’t.

Maxey went through some painful problems; but because he wasn’t self-centered, he didn’t worry too much about being humiliated. For most of us, the events he went through would have been unbearable. But as people have different thresholds of pain, Maxey had a different threshold of problem bearing. Most humiliation is a reverse for our egos. Since Maxey didn’t have the ego “high,” he didn’t experience the depths of the ego “low.” He repeatedly quoted to me, “Be grateful for all things.” I would say, “In all things.” And he would repeat, “For all things.” And on his prayer list of thanksgiving he had “when I’m being lied about.”

Maxey was future oriented. He seldom wanted to reminisce. He would have been the poorest person in the world to attend a class reunion. Maxey was always looking to the future. Even in our last visit, while under the oxygen support system, going in and out of a light coma, he didn’t reminisce; he wanted to talk about the black holes of space on

which he was writing a paper, and a list of current world problems.

He quickly lost interest in the past and concentrated on the future. When he lost his race for Republican nominee for governor, Mary Alice and I met Maxey and Sarah Mac at the Nashville airport. As we walked toward them, both of us started smiling. “That was this morning,” I said. “What about this afternoon?” He replied, “That’s exactly right!” Maxey felt you could learn from the past, but it should never be allowed to impede the future. Spinning yarns of the past violated his sense of the use of time.

One of my prayers is: “Lord, give me a fresh today. I’m tired of dragging this yesterday around.” Maxey, for some reason, was not cursed with this albatross.

Maxey believed in progress, not perfection. He criticized himself privately a great deal not because he failed to reach perfection, but because he wanted more progress. He realized that the difference between satisfactory progress and whimsical perfection simply costs too much. There’s a cover story in a recent issue of Psychology Today that shows the fallacies of perfectionism, and how often some people sacrifice broad progress for narrow perfection. Maxey understood that.

Maxey differentiated between gossip and grapevine. He knew it was important to be on the grapevine and know what was going on. He wanted to be close to his people where it related to business. But he wasn’t interested in gossip. I don’t think I ever heard him whisper in his life. He made no effort to keep his voice low because he didn’t maneuver you with confidences. If you said to Maxey, “I don’t want you to breathe this,” he would usually say, “Then don’t tell it to me. It loads up my memory to remember what I’m not supposed to say.”

Time was Maxey’s greatest “means.” Since time was his greatest limitation, it was to be invested judiciously. He invested it in the cause that brought the highest return according to his priority list of responsibilities. He needed to feel at the end of the day he had fulfilled his greatest responsibility. In the office he was never chatty. His associates respected his time, yet he didn’t rush about in a panic. His pace was fast and steady. He organized to save time, and was particularly short with telephone conversations-never rude, just businesslike. When he talked to you, he gave you his utmost attention, but you had the feeling that the subject should merit the time. I always wrote down what I wanted to talk to him about before I phoned. He never chided me into this; it was just that I felt in his attitude it was the only courteous thing to do. Possibly he gave others this same feeling, for he was able to live without an unlisted phone number during all of his career. He always kept to the subject.

Maxey looked first at opportunities. No opportunity, no responsibility. You hear people bemoan the fact they can’t meet a certain need. If you have no genuine opportunity, you have no responsibility. A man in jail can’t become a foreign missionary. As Spurgeon said, “If you can’t speak, God didn’t call you to preach.” Maxey had a great practical sense of what was possible.

Effort alone didn’t count. He had limited regard for effort because he felt many people substitute effort for accomplishment. Some individuals feel that as soon as they’re tired, they’ve done a good day’s work. He respected results with the least possible effort. I never tried to impress Maxey with activity. I never told him how tired I was or how much I traveled. I accepted the rule, “Result is the best excuse for activity.”

Someone called Maxey one day to criticize a sales manager: “Do you know John is out playing golf during business hours?” Maxey’s response was, “With the results he’s getting, I wish all my sales managers would do that.”

Maxey believed in people’s potential. He realized most could do more than they thought; therefore he was always exploring ways to develop them. He studied motivation and tried many formal and informal methods. He preferred for people to pull responsibility to them, provided they would accept accountability for it.

He didn’t see success for each person the same. In the mid-forties, one of our employees, Bill Fox, was killed in an automobile accident. I had just taken him off a machine and put him into the personnel department. As we drove back from the funeral, Maxey said, “I believe he was as successful a man as we have.” I was completely taken aback by that. “What do you mean, Maxey?” His response was, “He did as much with what he had as anybody I know.” He considered Bill Fox a successful man.

Maxey implemented responsibility with a strong, consistent discipline. As responsibility was the reason for his work, so discipline was the method. Once I told him I was a person of few habits, to which he replied, “Then you must waste a lot of time.” Habits were for saving time. He had habits for the routine things, and reviewed them periodically to see if they were still helping him be efficient. Those he didn’t need he replaced, no matter how hard. Smoking was the toughest habit he ever tackled, but he broke it. Those things that could not be routinized into habits he listed on a priority sheet. Then he would work to complete the first item before tackling the second, wherever practical. He didn’t jump around in his efforts. For example, he answered his mail as he read it-no shuffling through it two or three times. He went straight through his list for the day unless deterred by an emergency. He thought emergencies were the evidence of poor planning, therefore, he had very few.

His feeling of discipline was purely practical, not puritanical. He learned he could do more through strict discipline. He and Susannah Wesley would have been friends. Years ago, he shocked the Baptist brethren by admitting he worked on Sunday as a habit, not as an exception. He didn’t push any ox into the ditch to justify working. He felt he should work, not waste time sleeping or reading the comics in the newspaper.

He went to church twice on Sundays and to Wednesday night prayer meetings. He read four chapters every day and five on Sunday to get him through the Bible once a year (over sixty times). He more than tithed, and he prayed daily. He taught two Bible classes, held most of the lay positions in his church, and served many other Christian organizations including Christianity Today. As part of his discipline, he slept five and half hours a night.

Competition was part of his discipline. He believed in it. Maxey never felt we could get the best from the organization until we had them under competition. He enjoyed setting up competition between departments and individuals. I thought of Maxey when I asked a world-class weightlifter how much more he could lift in competition than he could in practice.

He said, “About two hundred pounds.” Maxey loved to argue, for it was verbal competition. We often explained to strangers that we were friends, but argued continually as a challenge.

Maxey was courteous, but still honest. Even in competitive business deals, he believed in helping anyone “save face” where there was no moral issue involved. He felt personal confrontations were unproductive. Maxey didn’t want gunslingers in the organization-shooting either for him or against him.

Even in the Christian community, Maxey was never one to make pious remarks such as “Bless you, brother,” or volunteer to pray for you as a way of terminating the conversation. If he said, “I’ll pray for you,” that meant you went on a list. He had a

daily, weekly, and monthly prayer list. He also kept a personal list of qualities for spiritual maturity he was praying about and developing in his own life.

Maxey was a catholic reader. He read constantly, quickly, and widely, usually five or six books at a time. Occasionally I would sit with him and another broadly-educated person, exhilarated by the amazing conversation. The Bible and French history were his favorite subjects, and they led into a very broad cross-section of literature. He would read as many viewpoints as possible to help him form his opinion. He kept a large library, with much coming in and about the same amount going out. He had a rather low acquisitive drive. He discarded letters, records, files, and even books as they were used. He never felt alone as long as he had a book. The first book he ever suggested I read was Plutarch’s Lives. He felt reading developed the mind as well as filled it.

Maxey made lists. The man who invented the pen deserves much of the credit for Maxey’s contribution to life. Everything he wanted to do he wrote down. Each year he made a list of the things he was working into his personal development. To live was to improve, and to improve was to make a list for specificity. Once I was telling him some plans that he felt were fuzzy. He asked that I write him a memo on it. When I told him I couldn’t write it but I could tell it to him, he smiled as he said, “The only

reason you can’t write it is because you don’t know it. Anything you know you can write.” That started me writing, and I believe he was right. As Bacon said, “Writing makes an exact man.”

Actually, the person who seriously deserves the credit for Maxey’s contribution is Sarah Mac. She was the warm home base, contributing to all he did and was. To her, Maxey came first, yet she had her own identity-a vital part of the civic, social, and church community. Maxey and Sarah Mac were like excellent dancers with separate and complementary choreography.

Maxey accepted his own weaknesses. For instance, his intuition about people wasn’t exceptional. He accepted this, and didn’t waste time trying to develop skills he didn’t have. He would say, “Don’t try to strengthen people in their weaknesses; it’s less productive than utilizing their strengths.” The role of the organization was to free and synergize their strengths, and in some other way cover their weaknesses. He was good at recognizing talent and giving opportunity for its use; utilizing without “using” others.

Maxey would not force the individual to succumb to the organization. As much as possible, he made the organization fit the people. In a sense, he felt the organization should be as loyal to the person as the person should be to the organization. We seldom hear loyalty used in this respect. He even accommodated himself to the star performers who were at times temperamental, even though it brought criticism from other executives. As long as they had high performance, he didn’t worry about their challenging his authority. His responsibility was to get results, not to prove he was the boss.

Maxey never became cynical. He knew that to manage a large organization he had to trust his subordinates. The few who failed him or conned him didn’t change this conviction.

If you were to ask what satisfied Maxey most in all his accomplishments, I think it was the people he had helped develop by providing them opportunity. Once he told me, “It’s not the plants we have built, but the people we have helped develop that makes me the proudest.” A large part of his drive to expand the business was to provide opportunity for others. Geraldine Stutz, the owner of fabled Henri Bendel, told me at Maxey’s funeral that when she bought the store, she immediately called Maxey and told him, “There is a Geraldine Stutz because there was a Maxey Jarman.”

He had the normal temper ascribed to “redheads,” but he controlled it well. When he did lose control, he was humiliated-not for social reasons, but because he lost his power to be effective. This was one of the few things that would upset him. Self-control was a matter of will, commanded by Scripture, and therefore his responsibility. In his Bible he defined temperance as “self-control.” I felt he usually came nearer “righteous indignation” than hotheadedness. When I recall the times he was hot, it generally involved someone’s irresponsibility or lying. He hated a lie. He couldn’t understand anyone deliberately being dishonest.

Maxey was decisive. This was one of his greatest leadership traits. He resented anyone “second guessing” his decision. He had a very open mind before making a decision, but a very closed mind once that decision was made. I found he would quickly review a decision when he thought it involved a moral mistake. Once he had the books opened just to give an employee a $2.85 refund because “The question isn’t how much trouble, but do we owe it?” Decisiveness, he felt, is one of the rarest traits in leadership. After he retired, he said, “Many people can make a good decision, but very few will.” He wasn’t a nervous leader; he had poise and tenacity.

Maxey was a much better demonstrator than a teacher. He rarely lectured; he showed you. He didn’t do it to snow you or prove how capable he was. He simply did it, and you had to observe him to learn the lesson. In fact, you had to work with him to fully appreciate him. He was not colorful; he was effective. In following him, we felt we could do anything required without losing self-respect. When we worked with Maxey, we could really “plant our feet” without looking over our shoulders expecting unethical maneuvers. He was loyal to his organization, and I never remember him making someone a scapegoat. When I failed, he told me, but I knew he wouldn’t sacrifice me to save his or anyone else’s face. You just don’t meet many people you can follow with that level of security.

Money to Maxey was a means, not an end. It’s hard to think of Maxey without thinking of money because he handled so much of it. He was “afraid” of accumulating personal wealth. He talked about money’s deception and the evils it brought to those obsessed by it. He proved his conviction by giving millions to Christian causes.

There were three facets to his giving that stand out to me: First, he gave currently. He didn’t save up or wait for occasions. Second, he gave a very large percentage of his income. Tithing was much too little for him to give. Therefore, his personal fortune was always much less than it could have been. He gave it away. Third, Maxey believed in giving anonymously. He didn’t want any earthly shrines named for him. In South America, Mary Alice and I were traveling with the Jarmans, visiting mission stations and churches. We repeatedly saw plaques denoting that the church had been given by Maxey Jarman. He never pointed out one of these, and I know he would have preferred the plaques not be there. Another time, I was visiting a preacher when his mail arrived with a check for $27,000 in answer to a request to Maxey.

As close as we were, he never told me of a single gift he ever made, even though I know he offered as much as a million dollars to start a Bible school. He combined the wealth of the rich and the spirit of the widow’s mite without trumpets blowing or the left hand telling the right what a great giver they belonged to.

Even when Maxey was at his lowest personal fortune, he gave a check for $13,000 to help Youth For Christ with a project we were undertaking. It was the last of his mother’s estate, which he had completely given away, just as he had given his inheritance from his father’s estate to start the Jarman Foundation for Christian causes. During the darkest days of his temporary financial crunch, which he didn’t try to hide or exploit, I asked him if he had ever thought of the millions he had given away. His answer was pure Jarmanese. “Of course I have, but remember, I didn’t lose a penny I gave away. I only lost what I kept.”

Maxey would never exploit his corporate position. He wasn’t picky, and he didn’t try to catch others he knew were taking some advantage, but he personally didn’t. He felt the higher you went in the organization, the more example you should be.

One time somebody made a crack about another executive: “He acts like he owns the place.” Maxey responded, “I’m glad he believes that, and I wish everybody here believed it and acted that way.” He wanted everybody to have a genuine sense of ownership because he knew the motivation that developed.

He oiled his effort with a deep joy and thanksgiving. Throughout his Bible, he repeatedly marked verses on joy and thanksgiving. In his personal prayer list he noted the things to be grateful for before he turned to problems and requests. Thanksgiving was a great part of his relation with God. He had the humility of gratitude.

If Maxey were alive, I would never show him this article. He would be embarrassed. I can almost see him push his lower lip over the upper and scowl. If I insisted, he would recognize my right to be wrong and would probably say, “OK, if you think it will help, go ahead, but put some of my weaknesses in to balance it. You have said too many good things.” To this I would have replied, “Forget that. I’m writing this to share with others the helps you have given me, and it doesn’t help to give them your weaknesses. This isn’t biography; it’s distillation.”

Maxey Jarman grave stoneIn the last memo we exchanged, he wrote about various persons and their search for meaning in life. Maxey’s final statement, I think, will give you the key to his life: “The ultimate, and I guess very few, if any, ever get to the full level of this position, is to know God-not necessarily to do something for God, but to know Clod. Reference might be to Philippians 3, verses 8 and 10. I really believe the ultimate purpose is to know God. I guess I’d have to confess I’ve had a good feeling in the very considerable number of people I’ve known in various ways-bank presidents, financial people, industrial corporation heads, governors, presidents of the United States, prominent people in the Christian world, and so forth. But that really is rubbish, to use Paul’s term, compared with the privilege of knowing God. I still have a long way to go to let the Holy Spirit teach me about Jesus Christ and the other things I need to know.”