Escaping the Circumstances of Your Birth

Yesterday I heard a story about a very popular preacher who came from a tiny, poor shanty town. As this preacher’s popularity grew, he made enough money that he could afford to move out of the small, poverty-stricken place of his birth. But he didn’t leave. When he was asked why he stayed, why he didn’t move to the bigger, nicer, safer place he could now easily afford, he said, “This is where I came from.” It’s a sweet sentiment, but it’s also wrong.

It’s not wrong to want serve the people in the community from where you came. It’s also not a bad thing to live beneath your means. But this preacher’s success could have served as an example of what hard work and dedication can do to free you from the circumstance of your birth.

His success might have served as an example of what is possible. It could have provided others with a bigger vision of themselves; if he could make it out of the poverty into which he was born so could they. Instead, he served as an example continuing to live in poverty is an acceptable choice. It’s a too small vision, and many more stand to benefit from a bigger vision.

There is no shame in the circumstances of your birth. But there is also no shame in escaping those circumstances. It’s not arrogant to be more, to do more, and to have more. It’s arrogant to feel guilty about your success because you believe that others aren’t capable of the same.

Your success can leave a path for others to follow. It can serve as an example that you don’t have to accept the circumstances of your birth—that you shouldn’t accept them.

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  • Tim Martin

    Anthony, I have led sales teams for 15+ years and have literally hired well over 1,000 people during that time to a very fair, incredibly high potential, straight commission sales position. More often than not, the salespeople who are Christians have severe challenges handling and accepting their new found success. It’s as if they feel guilty that God has chosen to bless them. As a Christian myself, I believe that if I do the right things (work hard, give exceptional service to my clients, treat my team like I’d like to be treated, etc.) then I deserve any and all blessings that come my way.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Interesting observation, Tim. There’s a lot about your duty to succeed in religion, particularly the Bible. I remember a parable about “wasted talents” to that point.

  • Amy McCloskey Tobin

    Did I ever tell you I love your writing? ;) Yep, Anthony, I’ve spent a lifetime escaping and I’ve never felt like it was the wrong choice. My grandmother and the generations before her laid an incredible ancestral foundation for me, but my father, in one swift 37 years, brought us all right down to the base of society. Luckily I was given a tremendous opportunity at Milton Hershey School, and there was no looking back.

    I still own my family farm – tried going back but realized that the world I’d made was much better suited to me than the quiet, rural one I’d left at 9 years old. It’s a great place to visit, but I’m with you – moving on is a very good thing.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Circumstances of your birth. I get it. And I agree; it’s good to move on!

      : ) Thanks for your always kind words, sister!

  • Charles H. Green

    Great post.
    Reminds me of a friend who founded a successful business, who served with me on the Board of an inner-city school. He told the principal once that he felt a little embarrassed driving his BMW into the parking lot when so many of the students came from desperately poor situations.
    “Don’t you dare change a thing,” said the principal; “you are an object example for those kids. You represent to them what they can become, and the fact that they know you personally makes it seem achievable to them.”