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Andrew Carnegie on "Profit and Purpose"

In December 1868, Andrew Carnegie penned this letter to himself:

Dec. ‘68

 St. Nicholas Hotel

 N York

Thirty three and an income of 50,000$ per annum.

 By this two years I can so arrange all my business as to secure at least 50,000 per annum. Beyond this never earn – make no effort to increase fortune, but spend the surplus each year for benevolent purposes. Cast aside business forever except for others…

Settle then in London & purchase a controlling interest in some newspaper or live review & give the general management of it attention, taking a part in public matters especially those connected with education & improvement of the poorer classes.

 Man must have an idol – The amassing of wealth is one of the worst species of idolatry. No idol more debasing than the worship of money. … therefore should I be careful to choose that life which will be the most elevating in it character. To continue much longer overwhelmed by business cares and with most of my thoughts wholly upon the way to make more money in the shortest time, must degrade me beyond hope of permanent recovery….

Thirty-three years old, rich, and working to be far richer, Carnegie realized that his total focus on work and wealth was draining his life, that all people will have an idol, and that money is one of the most vicious.

His stated goal was to work for just a few more years then invest his life into people to help them grow out of poverty. What a cool ideal!

Carnegie chose a different path, goes onto become a steel magnate, a brawling businessman, and a philanthropic leader. Still, as he amassed massive wealth he focused on both profit and purpose, investing most of his profits in scientific research, education, and international affairs. He was keenly aware of those in poverty, having grown out of poverty himself.

Interestingly, while Carnegie was not a religious man, in a moment of introspection he realized the truth that all of us will worship something and money is a terrible choice.

In 1stTimothy, we see that “the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have…pierced themselves with many griefs.” Our Creator has wired us to love Him and love people; when following this blueprint for our lives we become more focused and fulfilled, while choosing other paths leads us to heart ache and loss.

Consider what is most profitable and purposeful for you today.

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