Both internationally and personally, 2007 was a very difficult year. As we face the first day of 2008, I want to wish everyone a healthy new year filled with new realizations and experiences. While the world around us marches on to the beat of political powers who define our exterior boundaries, we still have the power to define ourselves. This power is the the only force that can prevent us from becoming caught up in the tragedies surrounding the next pending world war, which clearly seems inevitable.Bedridden for a couple of weeks with my own physical difficulties, I had an opportunity to review this past year and do a bit of reading myself. I was amazed by a story I read about the Rev. Hamilton Coe Throckmorton in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, who took a bold step to challenge his congregation and make them realize the power within themselves.
In September, 52 year old Rev. Throckmorton decided to hand out $40,000 cash after one of his sermons. He read from the Gospel of Matthew the parable of talents, which tells of a rich master who entrusts three servansts with a sum of money or â€œtalentsâ€ and tells them to do good with it. To put his money where his mouth was, the Reverend gave each adult listening to the sermon $50 and the church members were told to double their money and put the proceesd toward church missions to help others. Children were also included and given $10 to realize their potential.
As the money was handed out, Throckmorton told the people to live the parable of talents. The cash was loaned to the church by a few anonymous donors and anyone who didn’t want to do it could simply return the money to the church.
The results of this little experiment were truly amazing. Although all the church goers were stunned at first and wondered what they could possibly offer that would double the money, it was a challenge they obviously couldn’t resist. According to Hall Maskiell, a retired Navy pilot, â€œThere was definitely this tension, this pressure to live up to something.â€ Human nature wants to meet challenges â€“ good or bad and when presented with a positive challenge, obviously people are willing to work at it. Clearly a case for people in power to take note of how and where they are really leading people.
The Reverend’s money gave people a starting point to realize what they could do to help. With some thought, everyone was realizing their own unique talents and putting them to work. From taking people riding on planes or motorcycles to preparing tomato soup and applesauce to making birdfeeders and origami to crafting blankets and dolls, to hanging out with hens and putting in overtime as a doc, people were showing what they could do and raising money to help needy folks in the process. Ann Nagy even wrote and recorded a touching song for her father, who passed on October 11, just a couple of weeks before the October 28 deadline for the church challenge.
Kris Tesar, a retired nurse, found out she had the talent to make very popular crafty flip-flops, which are still in demand. She said, â€œAnyone can open their wallets and give cash. This was just an extraordinary process of exploration and discovery and of challenging ourselves. It became bigger than any one of us or than any individual talent.â€
Talent was so abundant that the church held bazaars after services for people to display and sell their goodies for charity. As of October 28, the amount distributed more than doubled and the amount is still growing as people finish projects and extend the deadline.
This touching story reminded me that we are all commanders of our own destiny and we can all stop the insanity at any moment we choose to explore the unique talents within ourselves. Unlike our money, our homes and our assets, our inner talents belong to us and they are all we really have to give. By focusing on what makes us special and putting it out into the world, we can counter all the negative energy around us with some positive forces of our own. Here’s to your self-discovery and successÂ in 2008 â€“ because the innocent need to unite and take care of each other in the face ofÂ adversity.