I thought I would post a couple of my favorite quotations from TR here today. Obviously, most everyone knows his motto: “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.” But he had other gems as well. Among them is this one, known as “The Man in the Arena”, which has been carved into a great many monuments around our nation. (For what it’s worth, a copy also hangs to this day in Elvis Presley’s bedroom at Graceland.)
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
My personal favorite, however, is from a speech known as the “The Strenuous Life”…
“I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.”
TR then applied that same approach to the life of our country as a whole when he said:
“Above all, let us shrink from no strife, moral or physical, within or without the nation, provided we are certain that the strife is justified, for it is only through strife, through hard and dangerous endeavor, that we shall ultimately win the goal of true national greatness.”
As America looks back over the last hundred years, it is increasingly clear that his call to greatness was in large part responsible for our rise to prominence as a nation later on in the twentieth century.
And he lived what he preached. Here was an indefatigable man who literally filled his life with remarkable achievements, living each and every day to its fullest!
A graduate of Harvard University, he wrote and published over 25 books. An articulate orator as well, he once delivered a 90 minute speech right after being shot in his chest, and before ever going to the hospital! He was a cattle rancher, a big game hunter (both in the western U.S. and on African safaris). He also led an intrepid expedition to the headwaters of the Amazon River.
He served as Police Commissioner of New York City, as a member of the National Guard, as the Assistant Secretary of the U. S. Navy, and as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U. S. Cavalry, where he famously led his famous charge up San Juan Hill.
He was elected Governor of the State of New York, as well as Vice President, and then later on as the 26th President of the United States of America. As President, among other things, he established the U.S. Park Service, the U. S. Forest Service, and led in the building of the Panama Canal. He also oversaw the construction of the world’s largest Navy and sailed it around the world to announce that America was now a world power.
For his accomplishments, he has received many accolades, including the Medal of Honor, the Nobel Prize, and had his likeness carved on Mt. Rushmore. He also has a United States Naval Aircraft Carrier named for him.
Now, at this point, you may be saying, “Thanks for the history lesson; but what is your point?” Just this: here is a man who made the most of his life. And we, too, have all been called to do the same.
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells a story that drives this point home quite well.
14 “Again, (the Kingdom of Heaven) will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ 21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ 23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
This story is commonly referred to as “The Parable of the Talents”, because the King James Version (KJV) uses the word “talents” for “bags of gold”. I love this story because it reminds us all that God had blessed each and every one of us with a given set of resources, as well as skills, for the time we have been allotted in this world.
The KJV’s use of the word “talent” is especially convicting. Obviously, there is a double entendre in the English language, as a “talent” nowadays means a given skill from birth. But, “talenta” was also the Greek word for a bar of gold, and it equaled about 6,000 denarii, or twenty years’ worth of a daily wage. This being the case, the story reminds us not only of resource, not only of skills, but also of time - as some people get 100 years, some get 40, and some only get 20!
In light of these things, I stand convicted by a man like Theodore Roosevelt, who made the most of everything God entrusted to him. And I am compelled to ask myself what I am doing with what all has been entrusted to me! What about you? What are you doing with your “talenta”? We may neither one be destined to be President of the greatest country in history; but what will we do with what we have been given?
Remember, it was Jesus, Himself, Who said (in Luke 12:48, NLT) “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.”
If you desire to know more about the remarkable life and accomplishments of this man known affectionately as "TR", check out this website: http://www.theodoreroosevelt.org/.