This is the story of the richest man in the world, the very first person to reach the status of billionaire.
By age 25 John D. Rockefeller controlled one of the largest oil refineries in the nation.
By age 31 he had become the world’s largest oil refiner.
By age 38 he commanded 90% of the oil refined in the U.S.
By the time of his retirement at age 58, he was the richest man in the country.
By the time he died, he had become the richest man in the world.
As a young man, every decision, attitude, and relationship was tailored to create his personal power and wealth. But at the age of 53 he became ill. His entire body became racked with pain and he lost all of his hair. In complete agony, the world’s only billionaire could buy anything he wanted, but he could only digest milk and crackers. An associate wrote, “He could not sleep, would not smile and nothing in life meant anything to him.” His personal, highly skilled physicians predicted he would die within a year. That year passed agonizingly slow. As he approached death he awoke one morning with the vague remembrances of a dream about not being able to take any of his successes with him into the next world. The man who could control the business world suddenly realized he was not in control of his own life. He was left with a choice. He called his attorneys, accountants, and managers and announced that he wanted to channel his assets to hospitals, research, and mission work. He attended the Baptist Church. He was faithful working for God in the church, a humble man, cleaning the house of God, until he died!
On that day John D. Rockefeller established his foundation. This new direction eventually led to the discovery of penicillin, cures for malaria, tuberculosis and diphtheria. But perhaps the most amazing part of Rockefeller’s story is that the moment he began to give back a portion of all that he had earned, his body’s chemistry was altered so significantly that he got better. It looked as if he would die at 53 but he lived to be 98. Rockefeller learned gratitude and gave back the vast majority of his wealth. Doing so made him whole. It is one thing to be healed. It is another to be made whole. Before his died he wrote this in his dairy:
‘I was early taught to work as well as play,
My life has been one long, happy holiday;
Full of work and full of play—
I dropped the worry on the way—
And God was good to me everyday!
(In the picture, John D Rockefeller as an old man)