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Two Kinds of People

Only two kinds of people make it into the history books.

The first is a well-known type. It’s the individual with a gift, the person who finds something worth doing and does it better than it’s ever been done.

On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister became the first man to break the 4-minute barrier, running the mile in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds.

With her discovery of radium near the turn of the century, Marie Curie set the stage for research in nuclear physics.

Takeru Kobayashi beat his own world record in July 2006, swallowing 53-3/4 frankfurters in 12 minutes to win the annual Independence Day hot dog eating contest on New York’s Coney Island. 

The second type, however, is the person who sees where others are going and decides from conscience or context to head in a completely different direction.

John Woolman’s work – started among Christian slaveholders in the 1740s – ultimately resulted in the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, and the Civil Rights. 

Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu – later known as Mother Teresa – petitioned the Vatican in 1950 for permission to start a mission that would serve “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.”

Harvard Professor Henri Nouwen left the academic life in 1986 in order to live with and minister to the mentally handicapped residents of L’Arche community of Daybreak in Toronto, Canada. His books, which openly share of his struggle with depression as well as his amazement at God’s limitless love, are often cited by both Catholic and Protestant clergy when listing those works that most affect their own ministry. 

Of these two types, the first is often better known, celebrated in popular culture, showered with gifts, idolized for its ability. And there are hundreds of millions who want nothing more than to set such a record. A handful may even succeed.

In spite of its relative anonymity, however, it is the second type that makes a difference. 

Unfortunately, the gate is small, and the way is narrow, and few are those that find it.

the person who sees where others are going and decides from conscience or context to head in a completely different direction

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