An article written by my father, the Rev. C. Thomas Paige, as it appeared in the Tri-State Defender on the date shown.
Some people think it pays them well…To put on business airs… And play up their importance in… The handling of affairs… Their secretaries bolt their doors… And make their callers wait… And if they should be out to lunch… They always come back late… They talk in condescending tones… As though their every deed… Denoted great ability… To serve a vital need… But people who are actually… Important on this earth… Are those who need no business airs… To demonstrate their worth… THEY ARE THE ONES WHO WORK… AND WHO ARE REALLY BUSY BUT… WHOSE HEARTS ARE ALWAYS OPEN AND… WHOSE DOORS ARE NEVER SHUT!
— James J. Metcalfe
This little poem expresses a sentiment that is very dear to me. As oddly as it might seem, we live in a word where people are very conscious of their importance. You can hardly ever engage in a conversation these days without being reminded what an important person I am in this organization or that one.
As you talk, you are forced to wonder how the wheel turns with so many hubs. But on the other hand, you wonder how many people get to the place that they feel they are so important.
I wonder if somewhere down the line we have failed to come to grips with the real meaning of importance — the meaning that has made this world the moral and spiritual citadel that it is today.
It seems to me that many of us have veneered ourselves with a covering that really should not be there. The psychologists have called this egotism. Call it egotism or whatever you may – it is something that is defeating the true and ultimate purpose of Christianity. It seems to me that Christianity is built around the very fact that we are important only in proportion that we are willing to play the role of the servant.
Nearly two centuries ago a man made us very mindful that His purpose in life was that He should be the servant of all. This idea in the minds of many of us is far too remote and removed. Something must happen to us that will once again make us know that greatness or importance can be realized only to the extent that we are willing to be servants. It seems to me that in far too many instances, we allow ourselves to live too far from our neighbors and those we should befriend.
Many men I know would be in a position to do a great job for the Master but they have allowed themselves to be too far removed from actualities. Somewhere down the line, we must become aware of the basic facts of life, and this can not be realized through living aloof. On one occasion, Jesus was criticized for eating with the Publicans and sinners. It becomes imperative at times that we associate with these people so that be get a better understanding of Him. In keeping with our better understanding, we are more likely to want the spirit of Jesus to become an integral part of all of our dealings.
It is not an air of importance that we need. Needless to say, we need an air of humility that will make us dedicate ourselves to the higher and nobler causes that our day needs. The self-centeredness of our day must pass away. Life is not made up of what we think of ourselves but rather what we think of our duty to our fellow man. The rising tide of our importance must be pushed aside and be replaced with a spirit of gratitude for all of those who have made contributions to make us what we are.
Unfortunately, there are many people today who lull themselves into a false complacency that they are what they have made themselves — but no such thing has happened. Those of us who make an honest appraisal of our lives are forced to realize that through the many things that other people have thrown our way, we are what we are. So, then, I am forced to ask just one question: wherefore all of this importance so prevalent in so many of us? To me, it is one of the most ill-founded opinions that anyone could have. There is no room for personal importance on the part of us. The poet adequately says, “The important people among us are those whose hearts are always open and whose doors are never shut.”