John R. Mott is a name almost synonymous with the YMCA. He lived from 1865 until 1955, serving all of his adult lifetime in the YMCA. Some of his accomplishments were: 27 years as National Secretary for the Intercollegiate YMCA of the USA and Canada; Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions; Presiding Office of the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh; Chairman of the International Missionary Council; General Secretary of the International Committee of the YMCA; President of the YMCA's World Committee...and on and on we could go with the list. Needless to say, John was deeply rooted in YMCA work. Below is his "15 Life Lessons I have learned from a Life-time of YMCA Service."
"After a lifetime in Christian work and extensive travel in eighty-three nations, I would suggest for your consideration, fifteen basic lessons I have learned:
JESUS CHRIST IS THE FOUNDATION.
He provides the direction and the zest for life. If we understand His teachings and His personality, He will make His own impression on our lives and it will be revolutionary.
STUDY AND PROMOTE THE USE OF THE BIBLE.
DeQuincey said the cause of all evil is the lack of interest in religious writing. If I were to stay longer, I would give a front-line place to reawakening interest in the religious writings of Christianity. There is nothing to take their place.
THE DICIPLINE OF PRAYER IS ESSENTIAL.
‘He departed a stone's cast beyond the Apostles, and kneeled down and prayed.’ I need only to say that we must make prayer one of the primary objectives of this brotherhood.
DO ‘MULTIPLYING’ WORK.
‘He that does the work is not as profitably employed as he who multiplies the doers.’ Enlisting volunteers is one of our greatest tasks.
USE THE ‘HEROIC APPEAL.’
A heroic appeal often gets a heroic response. It is good to have difficulties because it calls out the most in you, it drives you to get the cooperation of others, it drives you to God.
STRATEGY IS IMPORTANT.
There are strategic points which if captured, make easy all that lies behind them. There are strategic classes and strategic races, strategic times, strategic methods, strategic places. We must know what they are.
WE NEED TO GET INTO THE FIELD.
You cannot develop a Christian from an office chair. We need to be out meeting and dealing with personalities.
WE CAN TRUST OTHERS.
We can afford great acts of trust. I can testify that I have never had others disappoint me.
RULE BY THE HEART.
People are reached ‘via the heart.’ There is no substitute for love and kindness and sympathy.
No man can do all the good to be done in the world. We need to list and study our own priorities daily.
SMALL GROUPS ARE OF GREAT VALUE.
Christ sent them out ‘two by two.’ At one time, He had five disciples, at another time three, at another time eleven, and at another, twelve. Why did Christ attach importance to small groups?
I long ago decided that it was wise to follow Christ in this method.
ADOLESCENCE IS A CRUCIAL TIME.
If I had my life to live over I would spend much time on the adolescents' age group. These are the habit-forming years, the years of determining life attitude and tendencies, the years of creativeness.
DON'T OVERLOOK OLD PEOPLE.
Here is wisdom and experience for our asking. Here, also, is a group to whom we must give kindness and affection.
EMPHASIZE THE IMMEDIATE.
We need to live under the spell of immediacy. What other time will there be? What other generation than the present can we work with?
BE ATTENTIVE UNTO GOD. "Speak Lord, for thy servant hearkens" and ‘My soul, be silent unto God’" We must put out other sounds - noises of selfish ambition - prepare ourselves to say, ‘Speak Lord, for thy servant hearkens.’”
Taken from remarks presented at the North American Association of YMCA Secretaries meeting on his 83rd birthday, May 25, 1948, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
These lessons, although written a generation ago, still hold great value to our work as an association today. I hope these "15 Life-lessons," which can be applicable in any profession, encourage you in your work and your service this week. Thank you for your service and the spirit in which you fulfill your calling.