No. 880



The Indy 500 auto race, the Boston Marathon and the Iditarod sled dog race all have at least two things in common. First, they each take a relatively short period of time to run or finish, and secondly, at the end of each race we know the winner’s name and other details about them.
Unlike these three world famous races where a winner is always declared, there is another race that is unwinnable. You may have guessed it already -- it is the rat race. Millions of Americans are in it. Since this race is unwinnable, the only hope for a better life in the future is to get out of it.
This is what I want to direct my thoughts to during our visit today. A while back my good friend, Dr. Jim Weedman, gave me a book titled “The Man in the Mirror” with the subtitle “Solving the 24 Problems Men Face,” written by Patrick Morley. Ironically the title for the very first chapter was “The Rat Race,” which is a pretty good indication of the importance the author placed on this topic. Mr. Morley gives us this definition for the rat race: “A beautiful wrinkle-free life.” In laymen’s terms, I would say that a person in the rat race wants to have the world by the tail on a down-hill drag and will go to great lengths to have it.
In reading this most revealing book, the thing that really struck me was that I could see myself all through its pages. As individuals, we are each different and have our own story to tell, but I grew up in very meager circumstances. When I was still in high school, a local community leader had some disparaging things to say about me, mostly about my basketball playing skills. When this got back to my mother (maybe I told her) she marched right up to him and challenged him about what he had said. He more or less repeated his earlier comments.
From that point on, I was challenged and determined to make something of my life and was driven to succeed. Later, I dropped out of college after only a year and a half, but was fortunate to secure a job as a salesman. Sales is a career where you can succeed by proving that you can sell, and the ledger sheet grades you at the end of each month. Back in those days, having a new car was a status symbol and I can’t tell you how many new cars I had over a short period of time. I know now that this was only part of the rat race I was falling into. Today, many men are worn out and may lose their families in the process of chasing their dreams.
I will spare you the sordid details, but looking back I was a miserable failure for the first half of my life. As I said, the rat race is unwinnable. There were two main things that turned my life around. First, I quit “playing” church and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. He changed my priorities. And next, I married my wife Viola. She taught me the meaning of true love and is a great role model.
What I have learned is that success is not just about earning money but, more importantly, about having enough. True success is really about relationships and the good things we do for others. This is really the only thing we can leave behind that will endure. We are not going to take any of our money with us when we die.
We all want to be fulfilled and feel like we are doing something worthwhile. That is just human nature and many of us will go to great lengths to have it. This is something women also have to be concerned with as many seek to balance marriage, home and family. In the final analysis, we each have to make our own choices and live with the consequences. Let’s do our best to learn from OPE -- that’s other people’s experiences.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)