Naming Chicken or Inventing Toilet Paper

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The following is a brief tale of two men. One you know, one you don't. One's existence changed how we each live our lives every single day. One's existence didn't really change anything. Allow me to introduce you. 

The first man's name was General Tso Tsungtang, or as his name is spelled in modern Pinyin, Zuo Zongtang, and he was born on Nov. 10, 1812, and died on Sept. 5, 1885. He was a frighteningly gifted military leader during the waning of the Qing dynasty, a figure perhaps the Chinese equivalent of the American Civil War commander William Tecumseh Sherman. He served with brilliant distinction during China's greatest civil war, the 14-year-long Taiping Rebellion, which claimed millions of lives.  He didn't cook, and didn't necessarily even like spicy food.  However...

Today, he is exclusively remembered as the namesake for the popular Chinese dish General Tso's chicken.

The second man's name was Joseph C. Gayetty.  He invented the first packaged toilet paper in the United States in 1857. Joseph C. Gayetty is credited as the inventor of modern commercially available toilet paper. "Gayetty’s Medicated Paper" was sold in packages of flat sheets, medicated with aloe and watermarked with his name. Gayety’s toilet paper was available as late as the 1920's.

Today, nobody knows his name, but everyone pays homage to  (Sometimes twice a day!)

Here's the question.  Do you want people to remember your name...or your legacy?  

Everyone knows General Tso's name.  But nobody knows who he was, what he stood for, or why he existed.  And to be honest, most people don't really care whether he existed at all.  

Nobody knows Gayetty.  But everyone is glad he existed.  Everyone appreciates what he has done for the world, and his legacy affects all of us today.  He had a lasting impact on the world.  

Sometimes, we get so caught up in trying to tell our own story, that we forget that most of our great grand children won't even know anything about us.  So many live day to day desperately spending time on futile efforts to build their own kingdom, by the relationships they value, the decisions they make, the places they go, and how they spend their money.

But some understand, that their name and their kingdom are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.  So rather than trying to make their name famous, they spend their time trying to play a lasting role in a story that is much bigger than themselves.  

100 years from now, it won;t matter if people know your name.  What matters is leaving a lasting impact here on the earth, for the sake of of God's kingdom...a kingdom much bigger than you and me, that will matter so much more to people than we ever could.

Are your decisions, relationships, investments, and time utilized to build your kingdom...or the Kingdom that will outlast the world?

For me, I want to invent toilet paper, not name Chinese food.  Because even those who love General Tso's chicken...will need toilet paper.

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