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Ethics & Religion
July 21, 2021
Column #2084
More "Lessons For Life"
(Second of a two-part series)
By Mike McManus

Last week I suggested that couples read a brief book by Rich DeVos, Hope From My Heart: 10 Lessons for Life. Those with children could read nuggets of wisdom to them.

Michael Novak, a noted author, called it "an inspirational, autobiographical testimony about overcoming failure and setbacks. We all have plenty of those."

I reported DeVos's wisdom on five important virtues: Hope, Persistence, Confidence, Optimism and Respect.

Here are five more:

Lesson 6: Accountability: Jesus said, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded." DeVos, the co-founder of Amway, the world's largest direct sales company, adds, "Whatever our assets might be - financial, personal, position, opportunity, or ability - we are all called to be good stewards of those assets."

"Second, there is no accountability without freedom." DeVos asserts, "If we are to hold people accountable, then we have to create an environment, a society in which they have the freedom to take risks and make mistakes."

Lesson 7: Family: DeVos saw "how important my family was to my development as a person." His later success as a businessman "was built in part on my interest in salesmanship. Much of what I learned early in life about selling, I learned from my grandfather. And I credit my father with instilling in me an entrepreneurial spirit. He was an electrician - a wonderful hard-working man...But he was frustrated by the fact he never owned his own business, and his constant advice to me was one of the most motivating influences in my life. 'Whatever you do,' he would say, 'get in business for yourself.'"

His father died at age 59 - old enough to see that his son was successful. He reminded Rich, "Never forget that your business has been built on a foundation of honesty and fairness to others."

DeVos writes, "The home is where love and responsibility are learned and where values are transmitted from one generation to the next." He adds, "The bedrock of democracy, the foundation on which the good life is built, is the institution of the family..."

When their children were young, "Helen and I taught them values by passing on those broad generalities we call principles, such as honesty, and fairness and self-discipline.

All of the kids were required to pay their dues by serving an apprenticeship in the company. For example, Dick, who succeeded him as President of Amway, went to work for the company at age 12 during his summer vacation. All four of their other children served in entry-level jobs, "as anonymous as possible" so they'd "be judged on the basis of their merits, not their name."

Lesson 8: Freedom: "In 1959, in the same week Jay Van Andel and I founded Amway, Fidel Castro took power in Cuba. The country's leadership simply shifted from a right-wing dictator to a left-wing strongman."

In response, DeVos began making a speech he called "Selling America." "It was my response to critics of democratic capitalism....It was my way of reminding people that the winds of freedom and opportunity still blow across America."

His optimism was completely justified. As he asserts, "It is hard to find anyone who is willing to sing the praises of communism or even socialism."

Lesson 9: Faith. DeVos asserts, "My Christian faith is the foundation on which all else in my life rests; it is my life's most important asset....Without faith in a personal, creator God, the universe is a meaningless place, nothing in life has direction, and moral principles are impossible."

"Faith unites families...When times are tough, we are united...We look beyond ourselves to Someone much larger than life. Faith gives us perspective."

Lesson 10: Grace: In his late 60s, DeVos underwent a heart transplant. He was a diabetic who had already undergone two bypass operations. "No surgeon in the United States was willing to take my case." But a surgeon in London agreed to attempt a heart transplant.

A donor had to be found. It took five months, but a woman with an unusually large heart was found who was perfect for DeVos. It was a harrowing experience that was followed by pain and nightmares. Three weeks later he was released. "Only the spiritually blind could fail to see the hand of God in my circumstances."

"There was only explanation for a miracle like that: the grace of God and nothing else."

All of us need such virtues to give our lives purpose.


Copyright (c)2021 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to Hit Search for any topic.


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