Gems from Leroy Brownlow: On Taking Aims

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Years ago an accomplished marksman was passing through a community in which he saw evidence of amazing shooting. On barns, on trees, and on fences were many targets with a bullet hole in the exact center of the bull’s eye. So he anxiously sought out the marksman who had performed such outstanding feats.

In a congratulatory and inquisitive vein he said: “Your shooting beats anything I have ever seen. How did you do it?”

“No trouble at all,” replied the marksman. “I shot first and then drew the circles around the holes.”

Men often aim at nothing and then try to draw the lines of life around accidental marks. This is why they go in circles around shots they aimlessly call. If I would make the most of life, I must aim.

A few years ago some young men with bows and arrows were shooting at a target. When the arrows of one of them kept hitting the ground, another companion cried out, “Aim higher! Your arrowhead is always pointed to the ground!” The same is true of man. He goes where he points himself.

About the most uncomplimentary remark that can be made of one is to say, “He lives an aimless life.” The weak person rambles and shambles along, but the strong personality is definite in his pursuits and that’s why society honors him. The world is quick to pass over one’s lapse of memory or errors of judgment; but aimlessness, never. The plans and purposes of a person are an index to his character, especially when viewed in the light of his motives.

The supreme incentive for august achievement and lofty living is noble objectives. We are not apt to drop very low as long as we reach for a star! The stars are above—so keep reaching.

It is not what man would do– not necessarily what he achieves– that exalts him. “Tis not what man does which exalts him,/ But what man would do” (Robert Browning).

The apostle Paul gave witness to the difference between the goal and the achievement in this comment on his own life:

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

So the crime in life is the failure to have a lofty goal rather than the failure to reach it. In writing life’s story, remember: “Though thou has time/ But for a line be that sublime,/ Not failure, but low aim, is crime” (James Russell Lowell).

The greats in every age have been purposeful people. For instance, the Bible is resplendent with the names of great men who had high and honorable aims in life:

Abraham who “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).

Moses who “when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:24, 25).

Joshua who said, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

Jesus who “came to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 10:10).

Every individual should make a picture of the kind of person he wants to be. After this picture has been thoroughly imprinted on the mind, it becomes the power to mold him into the image he visualizes. I find power in purposing to be the things I seem and to do the things I deem.

Thus, let us take definite aim as follows:

I aim to be a man, an adult with an open face, big heart, broad shoulders and a strong backbone. President [James] Garfield said, “I mean to make myself a man; if I succeed at that, I shall succeed in everything else.” The apostle Paul said, “When I was a child , I speak as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11).

This may seem little but it is a big order with big rewards. It will empower me to go out with head erect and to deserve the world’s respect. It will enable me to like myself.

If human frailties should keep me from fully becoming what I aspire to be, there will still be comfort in the thought that I might have become a bum or a brute, if I had not aimed to be a man– that is success.

I aim to be a friend to man. The Bible says, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men” (Galatians 6:10). This makes life an enchanting experience; so in poetic language, “Let me live in my house by the side of the road and be a friend to man” (Sam Walter).

I aim to be self-reliant, which necessitates industry, thrift, invention, courage, doggedness. I plan to make a living, stand on my own feet and carry my own weight. This is the law of God: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground” (Genesis 3:19).

I aim to be constructive. The wise man is a builder (Matthew 7:24). Anybody can tear down. “It is a good thing to remember,/ But a better thing to do–/ Always to work with the construction gang,/ And not with the wrecking crew.”

I aim to have God as my only God, to fear Him “and keep His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). With this relationship I “shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil” (Proverbs 3:24).

I aim to pursue my goals, looking straight ahead, turning neither “to the right nor to the left” (Proverbs 4:25-27).

I aim to keep the barrel load and pull the trigger– otherwise, why aim. For “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17).

Editor’s Note: I have noticed that the posts in my blog which have the greatest number of hits are those about self-improvement and self-betterment, those that encourage and inspire, rebuild faith and buildup faith, reconstitute hope and refine the soul. So we are making this gem from Leroy Brownlow available to everyone, to members of the Lord’s church and others as well. Brother Brownlow could say it better than I do. He was one of those thousands of admirable souls in the kingdom of Christ, whose number we hope will keep increasing. Information on reprints may be sent to Brownlow Publishing Company, Inc. 6309 Airport Freeway, Fort Worth, Texas 76117, USA.

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