THE TRUE FACTS OF MY OWN CONVERSION
Continuing from the April number, Conversion: Sudden Experience or Lifelong Process? Nearly everyone is mixed up on this matter of personal salvation. It's made plain in this article.
A age 16 I became filled with AMBITION. I was on my first summer job away from home. My employer put his hand on my shoulder and said, Herbert, you're going to make a great success in the world. You have unusual talents and abilities-if you'll just put them to work. I have great confidence in you. It will mean continuous study all your life, hard work, diligence- but you've got it in you, and I know you'll make it.
True or not, I believed him. I was fired with ambition-and ambition is the DESIRE, plus the willpower to DRIVE oneself on to accomplishment. This also automatically generated within me great SELF-CONFIDENCE. I KNEW I could! I was DETERMINED I WOULD!
Now wasn't this a fine thing to arouse in a boy of 16? Wasn't it a fine way for a boy to start out in life? We shall see!
Choosing a Vocation
At 18 I ran across a book in the Des Moines (where I was born and brought up) Public Library. Its title was Choosing a Vocation. I took the book out on my library card. It took me through a thorough self-analysis of talents, aptitudes, abilities, strengths and weaknesses, faults to be overcome, likes and dislikes. It took me also through a thorough analysis of the differing requirements of various vocations, professions, businesses and jobs. I felt I was choosing skillfully. I chose ADVERTISING and JOURNALISM as my life profession.
And I went at it with zest and enthusiasm. I chose my own jobs. First I started in want ads on a daily newspaper. I didn't ask for a job-I just told the want-ad manager 1 was going to work for him. I used my head on the job. I worked hard, at a fast pace. Soon I was taking so much advertising away from the old Register Leader, the leading want-ad medium that they tried to hire me away from the Evening Capital at $2 per week higher salary.
Then I decided to spend three years with the Merchants' Trade Journal, largest trade journal in the U.S. Again I hired myself a job. They didn't need any help. But with assurance, confidence, enthusiasm and some salesmanship, I got the job. With them I wrote advertising copy, studied style in writing; I toured the United States as an editorial representative. In my articles 1 pioneered the public opinion polls which led to all of today's polls, from Gallup, Harris, and on to dozens of others.
Then I opened an office in the Loop in Chicago (heart of the downtown district) as a publishers' representative for all the leading bank journals. For the next seven years in this business I had my chief contacts with the presidents and board chairmen of the largest banks of South La Salle Street, and of New York, as well as the heads of the largest industrial corporations. Goodyear Tire and Rubber, J.I. Case, John Deere Co. and Avery Co. were among my clients. I threw myself into constant contact with the top and most successful men-as part of my own learning and preparation for future success. I was making, on the equivalent of today's dollar value, an income of about $150,000 per year, with very minor expenses.
I was married in 1917 at age 25. In a few weeks' time, my wife had a most unusual dream in which it was revealed to her by an angel that God had an important commission for me and that Christ was coming soon. I didn't take it seriously, though I suggested she tell it to the pastor of the church on the nearest corner to our flat, to see if he could make anything of it. It soon passed from mind. I was not a bit religious at that time.
After this, the flash depression of 1920 literally swept my business away.
In 1924 we drove a Model T Ford from Des Moines to the Pacific Northwest. Packed into that little car with all our luggage, tent and sleeping equipment were my wife and I and our two daughters, my wife's brother Walter Dillon, and her unmarried sister Bertha. There were no paved highways in 1924. Just dirt, mud and gravel roads. No motels-but camps and a few empty barnlike pioneer motels. They were called cabins. The trip took ; 18 days.
Immediately, I sold my services as a merchandising specialist to the Vancouver (Washington) Columbian for six months at one-third of the entire payroll.
Following this I started an advertising service for laundries-semi-syndicated. It was tremendously successful from the start. We were DOUBLING the volume of business of our clients within six months to a year. Just as it promised to go national into a multimillion-dollar enterprise, an advertising agency in Indianapolis talked the Laundry Owners' National Association into a large advertising campaign, cooperated in by ALL laundries throughout the nation, that completely absorbed the allowable advertising expenditure of every laundry. They were so well organized that the National Association was able to bind every laundry to it.
Again, through no fault of mine, my business was swept right out from under me-and there was nothing I could do about it.
It was precisely at this time that my wife suddenly took up religious fanaticism. She began keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. This seemed the most terrible thing that had ever happened in my life. I was proud. Immediately the thought came, What would my former business associates and contacts think when they heard my wife had gone into religious fanaticism? I tried to talk her out of it. She said she got it out of the Bible.
But the Bible says, Thou shall keep SUNDAY, I insisted.
Wherever does it say that? she asked.
Well, I don't know where, but I know that's what it says because all these churches observe SUNDAY, and they get their religion out of the Bible, don't they? I don't understand the Bible myself, but I know all these churches can't be wrong.