I’m not sure of the details, but someone introduced a series of essays by William George Jordan to Wayne when he was a teenager, and they made a huge impact on his life. I was reminded of them again today and decided to see if I could find a copy online, and I did. Here it is:


The first essay is the one we remember, but all of them are good. One of the things I love about his opening statement is its reminder that we are children of God (although he doesn’t use those words) and that we have great potential. Here are the words he uses:

“Man is never truly great merely for what he is, but ever for what he may become.”

This also reminds me of a quote by C. S. Lewis that I love:

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship. … There are no ordinary people. … Your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses” (C. S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory,” in Screwtape Proposes a Toast and Other Pieces [1974], 109–10). – quoted in a conference talk by Susan W. Tanner

I’d encourage you to follow the link above and read the entire essay, but if you don’t have time for that, at least read part of his conclusion:

“No man can make a habit in a moment or break it in a moment. It is a matter of development, of growth. But at any moment man may begin to make or begin to break any habit. This view of the growth of character should be a mighty stimulus to the man who sincerely desires and determines to live nearer to the limit of his possibilities. Self-control may be developed in precisely the same manner as we tone up a weak muscle,—by little exercises day by day. Let us each day do, as mere exercises of discipline in moral gymnastics, a few acts that are disagreeable to us, the doing of which will help us in instant action in our hour of need. The exercises may be very simple,— dropping for a time an intensely interesting book at the most thrilling page of the story; jumping out of bed at the first moment of waking; walking home when one is perfectly able to do so, but when the temptation is to take a car; talking to some disagreeable person and trying to make the conversation pleasant. These daily exercises in moral discipline will have a wondrous tonic effect on man’s whole moral nature. The individual can attain self-control in great things only through self-control in little things.”

Okay, let’s update this with a few more details. Wayne’s bishop selected a series of essays from several books by William George Jordan, which he then shared with the young men. They included the following:

  • The Kingship of Self-Control
  • The Supreme Charity of the World
  • Worry, the Great American Disease
  • Living Life Over Again
  • The Power of Personal Influence
  • Failure as a Success
  • Doing Our Best at All Times
  • Facing the Mistakes of Life
  • Sitting in the Seat of Judgment
  • Forgetting as a Fine Art
  • When We forget the Equity
  • The Finer Spirit of Trusteeship
  • The Joy Note in Life
  • The Supreme Court of Self-Respect
  • What Money Cannot Buy
  • The Red Blood of Courage
  • The Glory of the Commonplace
  • The Vision of High Ideals
  • The Crowning Gift in Life

The first four were found in “The Kingship of Self-Control” but the others were found in three different collections:

The Majesty of Calmness
The Crown of Individuality
The Trusteeship of Life

I found the links at this site, which has additional links to more of his writings.