How Can I Help

Art thou called being a servant? Care not for it:
but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.

          — 1 Corinthians 7:21


We were on our way back from a trip to Chicago. We were there visiting our daughter and seeing our son-in-law get his MBA from the prestigious business school at Northwestern University.


The graduation ceremony exposed an amazing diversity of countries of origin of the business school graduates. The announcer was concentrating so hard on pronouncing their names correctly – names like Chukwudozie Okechukwu Azotam and Aditya Chandrashekhar Dasnurkar – that he screwed up on several much easier ones, including our son-in-law’s. We laughed at the irony.


The lady behind us cracked us up, near the end of all those names, when we were getting a little weary. The announcer read:


Bella Hoi San Wong


Winson Wong


Nathan Daniel Wright . . .


. . . and she quipped:


“Two Wongs don’t make a Wright.”


Ba-bum crash!


What I’ll always remember: the graduation speaker, Doug Conant, the chairman and CEO of Campbell Soup Company, had a simple but powerful message for the graduates. Throughout life, he urged them to always ask, “How can I help?”


He told of some touching ways that others had helped him along in his career and life. He encouraged the graduates to be a helper whenever possible.


Now, a lot of these MBA’s from the respected Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern are no doubt going to go on to head Fortune 500 companies, hold important public offices and make beaucoup bucks in their business endeavors.


Smart people, for sure. But bet they all could have learned from the example of servanthood that an everyday guy exhibited for us on the way home.


See, our car battery was on its last legs. My husband had been wise to bring our jumper cables along on the trip, just in case. It might have had something to do with the fact that we had an iPod, a TomTom and the DVD player all running at the same time as we traveled back to Omaha. But for whatever the reason, during our 15 minutes inside a truck stop in windy eastern Iowa, the darn car battery died.


Our faces were stricken as the ignition sputtered drily. Oh, no! We were out here in the middle of nowhere, with a dead battery. How would we ever get home?


I couldn’t see our hero, but I heard him:


“How can I help?”


A man’s voice asked my husband if he needed a jump. Yes, thank you!


A car was maneuvered in front of ours. Into view our hero came – an ordinary-looking, middle-aged, middle-class man in a “Saturday shirt.” Doubt he had an important job; doubt he had an MBA. He could easily have blown us off; he was probably tired from traveling, too. But he didn’t. He gave us his time. He helped.


Over the hood of the car, I watched him and my husband set up the jumper cables. The car rumbled back to life. What a relief! We were extremely grateful.


I saw the man look down, and smile. From at his side, a little boy smiled back up. It was the man’s son, bubbling with pride over the way his dad had solved this mini-drama at the truck stop. His dad was a hero to this tired carload of strangers.


He was about 6, in his summer buzz cut, obviously on vacation just like us. He had come out to see the cool-looking car engines and watch the jumper cable connection solve the problem.


In the happy father-son look they exchanged was a world of meaning – exactly the message that the high-falutin’ graduation speaker had just delivered:


Always be ready to help.


Always look for chances.


Always offer.


Always deliver.


That’s how you attain success in life.


Is there any guidance tip more important for any of us to ponder?


You know, fathers who teach their children how to be helpful servants are like jumper cables – connecting people to a source of power that goes far beyond a car engine.


I mean connecting them to Father God – the ultimate Source of all service and all help. All the book-learning and polish in the world aren’t worth as much as a heart that’s willing to help. Through that act of service, you connect to the Father.


I hope those business school grads caught that spark. I hope they will use it to power their bigtime jobs on Wall Street and the executive suite. Most of all, I hope they focus on serving others as they model the business of life for their children in the years to come.


Like that guy at the truck stop, may they see that shining look of admiration in their children’s eyes. That’s a real master’s degree . . . from the heart of the Master. †

By Susan Darst Williams | | Fatherhood | © 2020