There is a great difference between surviving and succeeding. Those who work to live, and those who live to work. Many people are satisfied to survive on the scraps of earnings yet they have goals that extend beyond their workplace and see their occupation as only “a means to an end.” Others are more focused on their profession and are goal-oriented people and who give their life to their end purpose. Many people pursue success for their own selfish reasons, only a few are pursuing success through the bounty of sharing. Surely, life is measured, not by the quantity of riches, but by the quality of investment.
An American billionaire named Leona Helmsley whose holdings owned the impressive Empire Estate Building in Manhattan and twenty four hotel chains was worth well over two billion dollars when she died in August of 2007. Mrs. Helmsley and her husband Larry, who died in 1997, built a real estate empire in New York City and both had risen from rags to riches through sheer hard work. Despite their tremendous wealth, they were known for being less than generous even to their own family. After her only son died of heart attack, Mrs Helmsley immediately issued an eviction notice to his daughter in law who lived in a house that she owned and sued to claim her son’s estate for money and property claiming “he borrowed them from her” leaving his widow both homeless and penniless and her four grandchildren with just $432 apiece. When Mrs. Helmsley died, she left $5 million to two of her four grandchildren on condition that they visit their father’s grave once a year. But she left nothing, not even a penny to the other two grandchildren “for reasons that are known to them” she wrote in her will. Yet she left $12 million to her Maltese pet named Trouble, and several million dollars to the caretaker with stipulations that she be well taken care of and be buried next to her in the family mausoleum should her adorable pet dog died. Her reputation for being spiteful earned her the title “Queen of Mean” after she was charged and convicted of tax evasion in 1988. Her famous saying “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.” demonstrate her arrogance, blatant greed and the stigma of wealth and power.
Jesus taught the parable of three stewards. Two invested their talents and multiplied the Lord’s bounty. The other man hoarded his one talent and made no expansion of the Lord’s blessing. Success is measured by the investment made in life for the greater influence of good to others. Surviving is measured by the hoarding made in life for the personal gratification.
The legacy we leave on this world, whether we die rich or poor, is far more significant than any type of material wealth we ever achieved. Money is simply a tool, that come and go in the blink of an eye. Some of the grandest form of generosity involve no money. Thus we need to give our time, attention and love to others. Relationships are the only substance that have any real meaning in the end.
Certainly, we can survive by what we get, but we can only succeed by what we give. We must ask ourselves the tough question, is my life dominated by possession, or is it governed by the higher principle of purpose? Is my life an end to itself, or do I exist as a means to an end for others?