Author, The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist
(continued) Pakistan: March, 1996): I thanked the senator for such an honor and privilege of being invited to be with them for the evening when I knew that they had been in busy senate sessions all day and would have to return to the chambers to continue their work early tomorrow morning. It was an evening I will remember throughout the rest of my life.
I went on to tell them about growing up in America, where the pressures to succeed and accomplish were so great and the expectations to attain and personally accumulate wealth were so strong. I told them I was not born into a wealthy family, but in America, if a person really desired to rise above the difficulties and achieve success, it was very possible to do so.
I told them that it was like the man who entered the shoemaker’s shop and told the proprietor that he needed new shoes and wanted to know how much a pair of new shoes would cost. The shopkeeper told him the price of a pair of new shoes would be one hundred dollars. The man agreed and purchased the new shoes for the price. As he was leaving the shop, another man entered and asked about the price of a new pair of shoes. The shopkeeper told him one hundred dollars.
“But I don’t have one hundred dollars. All I have is fifty dollars.”
Whereupon the man who had just purchased his new shoes pulled the package containing his used shoes from under his arm. “Sir, I have a pair of shoes here that I would be willing to sell you for fifty dollars.” The second man happily agreed and paid the first man fifty dollars for his shoes.
Now, each of the two men bought a pair of shoes that day. Each paid fifty dollars for his pair of shoes. One man ended up with a new pair of shoes for fifty dollars, and the other ended up with a used pair of shoes for fifty dollars.
“When I was young,” I told them, “I determined that I would always be the man with the new shoes.”
I went on to share my experience in business and the art of bartering and how God got ahold of my life and changed me completely. I told them that in order to break the addiction of personal greed and accumulation, my wife and I gave away our wealth, and I vowed to God that I would use the abilities he had given to me to put deals together that would benefit others, if he would but give me a second chance in my life and allow me to start over again. I went on to talk about Project C.U.R.E. and the personal reward and satisfaction I receive from seeing people, who otherwise would have died, being helped and sent home from hospitals and clinics healed because of God’s love through the efforts of Project C.U.R.E.
I told them that it was all right now if I did not always have new shoes. I told them that I am, however, still involved in barter and am totally satisfied with what I am now receiving from my share of the barters. “I am the happiest man in the world because I am now exchanging affluence for moral influence. Thank God, I was given the opportunity to exchange success for significance.”
I then told them that without doubt they are the most successful men in Pakistan, or else they would not be where they are tonight. “But,” I said, “I see in your eyes tonight that some of you need to accept my invitation. Some of you here tonight also need to move from a position of success to a position of significance.”
When I finished they applauded for a long time, and I saw tears in the eyes of at least one senator. All came by and spoke and shook my hand as they left. Many of them hugged me. Another senator, who is the chairman of the powerful senate education committee, stood close and said to me and the others standing around the door, “I am frightened when I think of how close I came to missing this meeting tonight. I am inspired … My life will not be the same.”
Before I went to bed, I thanked Jesus for being in that meeting in such a strong way. He seemed to remind me that when he was on earth walking and talking, those were the very Gentiles, the sons of Ishmael, the seeds of Abraham and Hagar that he was referring to when he said that he had come to bring salvation to the Gentiles.
I feel so humbled and so privileged to have had the opportunity tonight to share with those powerful Muslim leaders. In fact, involvement in the whole Pakistan episode—the traveling, the dangers, the terrible hospitals, the cargo-container movement from our warehouse to the port of Karachi—has been well worth the single opportunity of sharing with the senator and his important friends. I was not the one who manipulated the meeting that dark night in December, flying at thirty-six thousand feet over the old Soviet Union from Islamabad to Amsterdam. God’s love and his great plan are becoming reality, and his faithfulness to the promise to Abraham’s seed is being played out in an ongoing pageant of eternal love and acceptance.
I may have now played my bit part in this drama and will be allowed to slip off the stage as the next scene unfolds. But I went to bed tonight in the heart of Islamabad, Pakistan, with the satisfying knowledge that I have been true to my commitment to God that I would go anyplace and say anything to anybody as an act of total obedience if he would give me the guidance and assurance that I am, indeed, at the right place at the right time saying the right things to the right folks. The expectations and results are not mine. Those are within God’s jurisdiction, but I can sleep well tonight in Islamabad, Pakistan.
© Dr. James W. Jackson
Permissions granted by Winston-Crown Publishing House
Dr. James W. Jackson often describes himself as "The Happiest Man in the World." A successful businessman, award-winning author and humanitarian, Jackson is also a renowned Cultural Economist and international consultant, helping organizations and governments to apply sound economic principals to the transformation of culture so that everyone is "better off."
As the founder of Project C.U.R.E., Dr. Jackson traveled to more than one hundred fifty countries assessing healthcare facilities, meeting with government leaders and "delivering health and hope" in the form of medical supplies and equipment to the world's most needy people. Literally thousands of people are alive today as a direct result of the tireless efforts of Project C.U.R.E.'s staff, volunteers and Dr. Jackson.