Last week I attended Billy Ray (Bill) Jones’ funeral. Bill was the father of one of my dearest friends and although I never met him personally, after listening to his eulogy, I felt I knew him. And what a beautiful, purposeful life he lived. What was his secret? He bloomed wherever he was planted.
Bill was a strong Christian, devout family man, an Army veteran and an integral part of the family business – A.B. Jones and Son’s Cars. It was a small, family owned car lot with a defined purpose to serve the local community. And serving didn’t just mean selling cars – it meant helping those in need. His family was known in Columbia, TN for being generous and honest. There were stories of people who needed transportation but couldn’t afford to buy a car and he and his family would loan them a car and even going so far as to tell them to bring it back when they got on their feet and not to worry about filling it up with gas. These generous gestures helped them build a reputation of service and a loyal customer base. People never forgot those gestures and although they might find a cheaper car elsewhere many were repeat customers because in their darkest hour they were treated with respect and dignity – and the business thrived.
After retiring from the family business, Bill went to work in ground maintenance at Maury County Park and continued to serve as an Elder in his church. When he could no longer serve in that capacity, he became a Facilities Caretaker, lovingly taking care of his church. He didn’t view these changes in his life as setbacks or demotions, he wasn’t looking or adulation or praise, he simply chose to embrace and find meaning and purpose in serving others whatever position he was called to fill.
Too often in today’s fast-paced, hip, socially conscious, social media culture, people miss the opportunity to find deep purpose and meaning in their lives because they are looking for some grand opportunity or gesture that can be posted to Facebook or other social media sites and used to impress their “friends”; never realizing true purpose often is found in the small, meaningful gestures and support we provide others by blooming where we’re planted.
God bless you Bill Jones. May we use your example to find the true meaning and purpose we seek in our lives and careers.