People I Respect…For Whom Wealth Happens…and Values Prevail

An intention was deleted. That’s not judgment; it’s fact. Wanted to start a writing sabbatical…not because of weariness, or a sense the stale obviated the fresh. Simply. Because. That’s good enough.

However, this morning my wife, Diane, sent me a link about Steve Jobs. Maybe you’ve seen it before—his last words. He died in his 50’s. I don’t believe it can be seen too much.

As I heard his word…and read them. I thought of wealth. I thought of two people whom I cannot respect more. And. I’m going to name them. One is deceased; the other is anything but deceased.

The first is A.C. Buehler. I’ve shared about him before. He was the head guy [not sure of all the letters to define his head-position. At any rate, he, of Victor Comptometer, was a founding member of my first served church, St. Pauls, Fullerton and Orchard, Chicago. I remember my first Church Council meeting. Hadn’t been there a month, so most of the men [yes, this was 1966] were older. Hey, I was new to being 26. The man next to me reminded me of the man in the movie, “Mr. 880.” He was quite old, gentle, humble, spoke softly.

In the movie, Mr. 880 made $1 bills and the money made was for charity. He was finally caught because he printed the S in WaShington backwards. Mr. Buehler was not Mr. 880, but the gifting spirits was similar.

Mr. Buehler [always Mr. Buehler] was so very polite. And, certainly with a casual airs asked if my new wife and I played golf. We did. Seldom and not well. That was the end of that exchange.

The next afternoon. I could see out of my basement office to the street in front of the church office. Up drove a limousine. The driver, well uniformed, went to the trunk, reached in with both arms and pulled out two full golf bags. He asked for “Pastor Miller.” Brought them to my office and explained, “These two full golf bags are gifts to you and Mrs. Miller, from Mr. Buehler. The lady’s clubs are for his wife, but she doesn’t play. Never been used. They are gold-plated.”

I never learned about gifts like this in seminary.

Then, I learned more about Mr. Buehler. He had to know Steven Jobs. Or, more accurately, Mr. Jobs somehow had to know about the truth that Mr. Buehler, the 11th richest man in the United States in 1966, who never confused wealth with value. Value ruled every time.

I’ve written before…Mr. Buehler underwrote our six-week Summer Children’s Day Camp and then donated the use of Victor’s company jet—picture attached—to give every single one of our children and high school advisers and adult workshop leaders a ride one afternoon. It took six flights, from Palwaukie Airport to Madison, round-trip, to give all 130 of us a ride.

Incredible. I learned that wealth helps. Sure. But so much more in how to live and what to live for.

Then, the other man who taught me, although my words were never good enough [in my view] to let him know how MUCH he taught me. His name is Tom Murdough. Tom and Joy [she’s not misnamed] live in Ohio and are members of a church where I was head of staff. Tom founded Little Tykes and then moved on to Step Two.

Well beyond that. It was his integrity and his values and his understanding that money has a primary purpose. He made it clear…and it’s a core root to raising money, especially for churches, “I love to make money. But. I love even more to give it away.”

Tom and Joy are the dearest of friends. Because of the way in which they cared not what they earned. The way in which they made generosity more important than keeping. And, to Tom and Joy…as well as to me…the best part of giving away…is receiving, knowing that you’ve done the right thing.

Meet Mr. Buehler’s jet…and then I hope when you mirror your life you’ll know your life is more of value than wealth. And then, listen and understand Seven Jobs…


About Mark H Miller

Diane and I live in Leander, Texas. This past June 17, 2015 I celebrated the 49th anniversary of my ordination. We returned to Texas after three years in Washington, during which I served as interim minister in Bellevue/Eastgate and Mercer Island. Am planning to begin a 5th novel that will have my protagonist, Tricia Gleason, serve a year in licensed ministry in Snoqualmie, Washington. The novel, "The Lemon Drop Didn't Melt," will find Tricia wrestling with ministry challenges. None of which more daunting than someone wanting her breathing to stop. All the published novels are available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle under Mark Henry Miller. A primary goal in our return to Texas is to make sure grandchildren get lots of attention--here and in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Traveling is definitely an activity that will not slow down. With that, of course, fishing will happen. To that the t-shirt is apt, "I fish; therefore I am." In addition to novels, the book of Blogs, "Voice Of My Heart," is also available on Amazon.
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