I Remember: Getting the Most Out of Every Situation
article by Paul Lipe
I REMEMBER A LOT OF INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE HAD A SIGNIFICANT INFLUENCE ON ME, people who have helped shape the way I view life and the way I react to various circumstances. I am indebted to many who have challenged me to be a better, more productive person, impacting me by their examples and their wise counsel.
One such person was Mr. Lamar Bryant. Mr. Bryant was a pioneer in the exploration for and the production of oil in northeast Louisiana. He established and managed Delhi Manufacturing Corporation – one of the largest builders of aluminum boats in the world, was a key figure in the banking industry and served his community in the role of Mayor of Delhi. Despite these and other remarkable accomplishments, he exhibited a humility that significantly elevated him in my esteem. My greatest appreciation for Mr. Bryant is reserved for his contributions as a servant of his Lord. He was one of the most capable and productive officers with whom I ever worked, always putting the good of his fellow church members above his own personal desires, even when it meant he had to go against his pastor’s (that would be me) wishes and plans.
One occasion stands out in my memory. Our church was investigating the possibility of building a gymnasium, thinking this might enhance our ministry to the youth of Delhi. I was enthusiastic about this effort, but Mr. Bryant did not share my excitement. In fact, he did his best to scuttle the project – and, he exerted considerable influence in our congregation. He worked to defeat this endeavor right up to the moment of the vote, a vote that approved the building of the gym. However, after the congregation had made its decision, he never uttered another negative word against the project but went to work to help complete the undertaking. This attitude set him apart, because many, when they do not get their way, will continue to express their opposition or will refuse to give any support to the cause they failed to derail. I consider myself blessed to have had the privilege of doing our Lord’s work alongside Mr. Lamar Bryant – what encouragement I received, as we labored together in an effort to please our King. In addition, I learned a lot from the wisdom he exhibited in the way he approached life.
One learning experience that stands out in my memory took place at the dinner table in the Bryants’ home. His gracious spouse, Mary, frequently invited Linda and me to be their guests for what was always a sumptuous meal. On this occasion, we had come to my favorite part of the feast – the dessert. I do not recall what that particular dessert was, but I do remember that it had a cherry on top – I love cherries! And I was saving that cherry for the last bite, operating under the thesis, “Save the best ‘til last.” I noticed that Mr. Bryant had eaten the cherry on his dessert with his first bite, and I told him that I liked to save the best to the end. It was then that he opened my eyes to a new perspective. He told me, “I eat the best first; that way I can always be eating the best that is before me.” He endeavored, in every situation, to get the best out of every circumstance.
His approach to priorities brings to mind something that Jesus taught His disciples when He said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) Having right and wise priorities in place is so imperative to living a profitable, fulfilled life – what we put first will make a lot of difference in how we live our lives. The “first” that Jesus refers to is not just to time but also to importance. Many heartaches and disappointments could be avoided, if we could learn to give God His rightful place in our love and in our service. And so much good could be accomplished if we were to pattern our behavior and shape our values according to His purpose for us. The path to which Christ points us is “best”; let us not save the “best ‘til last!”