Thursday, September 22, 2016
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2(NLT)
James Cash Penney, Jr. was a young man, working for a small group of stores (The Golden Rule chain) in the Midwest in 1898. His father, a Baptist preacher and farmer trained him from an early age to work hard, be honest and generous. This ethic got noticed by the owners of the store chain and they invited him to open another store as a partner.
The store was a success and within a few years there were two more. And when the other partners dissolved their relationship in 1907, Penney bought the full interest in all three stores. By 1912 there were 34 stores; by the time of the great stock market crash of 1929, the chain of JC Penney stores numbered 1,400 nationwide.
The young man had become incredibly wealthy, but the crash and ensuing depression nearly destroyed the businesses. For much of the Great Depression, J.C. Penney used what was left of his great fortune to meet the payroll of all the stores so his employees would not go hungry.
The financial setbacks took a toll on his health. Penney checked himself into the Battle Creek Sanitarium, where he was treated. After hearing the hymn "God Will Take Care of You" (written by Civilla Durfee Martin) being sung at a service in the hospital’s chapel, Penney became a born-again Christian.[ii]
Penney’s well-known work ethic and honesty were qualities of a well-formed character, but the great secret behind the success of this business legend was wisdom. That wisdom is somewhat summed-up in one of his illustrative statements:
You take a hoboe who steals a ride on the railroad; clean him up, educate him; you’ve solved a problem. He won’t steal a ride anymore, he’ll steal the railroad.
James Cash Penney understood human nature, and much wiser, he understood how human nature needs to be transformed to respond to the nature of God, for whom we are created.
Otherwise all the education, programs, and social engineering a government might try will simply result in stolen railroads all over the place.
A good question to entertain today is: how am I involved with the character development of young people I know?
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