Success, Significance, and the Soul

Have you followed the news lately? Bill Gates steps down from directing the everyday affairs of Microsoft to devote time to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the wealthiest philanthropy of our day. Warren Buffett gives the vast majority of his multibillion dollar stock options to the Gates Foundation to further their charitable endeavors. A Denver Presbyterian layman gives over $150 million to his foundering denomination...all of these news headlines appear in the space of two weeks. Interesting, isn't it? Something is going on; something different from business as usual. We're watching some of the pillars of industry lead the way--not in more acquisitiveness and accumulation of wealth, but in distributing wealth to the less fortunate, making investments in the poor, the sick, those on the margins of society. Could there be a lesson for us here? Having reached the pinnacle of financial success, these leaders are searching for something more. It reminds me of an adage that seems increasingly true: most people tend to spend the first half of their lives searching for "success"; but in the second half of their lives, many search instead for significance, for ways to make a lasting investment in the betterment of our world. There's a midlife shift toward what I might call "soulishness"--toward things of eternal value. I wonder if the recent example of these tycoons and their new style of investment in significance is a living parable of the ancient words of Jesus:

"For what will it profit people if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?"

Gates, Buffett, the Presbyterian--they are making a turn, it seems, toward life, toward the soul, toward a signficance not achieved by the accumulation of wealth. Can we learn from them?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like the term "soulishness". May we strive to live the latter part of our life this way.....