As a boy, I remember being increasingly embarrassed every time his name came up. While the family stood by him, I know they all felt the same way. My father took it hardest. He carried the hurt of his brother’s betrayal and dishonesty for years.
It was sad and difficult to watch, but sadder still was the way my Uncle died. He died alone in a rundown boarding home miles from home. By this time, he had so isolated himself with his unrelenting selfishness that he was dead two weeks before anyone knew he was gone.
Jim always thought that if he had money he would have everything, but his unbridled ambition cost him everything that mattered. He always thought someone else could be conned into paying the bill, but he should have known better. His mother, my grandmother, often reminded all of us “chickens always come to roost.” Our seemingly independent lives are rooted together beneath the surface and tied to a common source. By necessity, each life is bound to help every other life linked to it. We cannot close others out without shutting ourselves in.
I often wonder if my uncle ever really thought about what he was doing. If so, how could he not know that wealth will not bring happiness? There is abundant evidence of that fact. Napoleon, for example, at one time one of the richest and most powerful men on earth, wrote in his diary that he had only experienced five days of happiness in his entire life.
Goodness always precedes greatness. Happiness comes from serving the purpose for which we are intended, fulfilling our potential, and, in so doing, finding God’s will for us. In the final analysis, the measure of a man is not how many servants he has, but how many people he serves. Happiness comes from serving others, not from having others serve you.