This I Believe

Moser, Paul


  • Paul Moser remembers the order and discipline expected of him as a child, and how the virtue of work can be applied to society, guided by Christian values, to create order out of a chaotic and confusing world.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Few men make a reality of their ideals. Paul Moser gave up a profitable business career to devote all his time to his church. Once owner of a chain of food markets in Topeka, Kansas, he is now executive secretary of the National Council of Presbyterian Men in New York. Here his beliefs.
I remember as a boy that some tasks seemed very difficult and almost impossible to me. For illustration: throughout the summer and early fall of each year, father bought wood cut in lengths to fit our cook stove. The man who delivered it would throw it off the wagon in a hopeless jumble. As I looked at this crisscross pile, it seemed to me that it was almost impossible that it could be transformed into an orderly stack as my father required. It meant discipline, it meant organization, it meant work. Eventually I did transform it into neat, even cords. Of course, my efforts were encouraged with the prodding of my father, and he knew how and where to prod.
Today’s world looks as baffling to me as the pile of stove wood looked to a small boy. What can I do in today’s world to bring about the same kind of order that father required of me for the woodpile? Recently a friend of mine remarked, “This world is in such a mess that I wish I could go to someplace where man has never set foot.” But that will not change the condition nor clarify personal confusion. Seeing so much conflict and confusion must not deter me from finding out what I can do and going about doing it in the same fashion as I went about piling wood as a boy.
One of the tenets of our Christian faith most important to me is that God has a purpose and plan for every man in this world.
God has given men definite abilities. These abilities he intended to be used by every one of us to bring about an orderly world. I deeply believe that a world of chaos can be changed by enough men committed to Christ, devoting their abilities for His church in their particular corner of His kingdom.
Just the other day, I heard a group of reporters ask one of our elder statesmen this question: “What can the ordinary man in the street do to help in today’s world situation?” The reply was: “Go back to your work and do the best job that you’ve ever done in your life.” I can’t think of a better answer. I cannot do what any other man or woman can do.
My opportunity and responsibility are to use the ability which I have to establish an orderly Christian world.
In the beginning I referred to discipline. I recall now the many persons who have influenced my life: my father and mother, an aunt, my pastor, my wife, a fellow worker in the store, and others. How many times I’ve longed to have their understanding and faith. I can have it if I am willing to exercise the discipline that is required to get it. This discipline is the beginning of what makes the difference between an orderly Christian world and a hopelessly confused, chaotic and materialistic world.
Let me try to put my finger on the difference: the difference between a heap of wood and an orderly pile was the discipline of my boyish work; the difference between a chaotic world and a world of order is the discipline of worship and work, of faith, every man in his place according to his ability.
That was Paul Moser, a leading layman of the Presbyterian Church USA, once a successful merchant, who believes that success is best measured by intangible profits.