Tag Archive for: selfishness

Forgotten Wedges

I want to share part of a talk given by Spencer W. Kimball in April 1966.
โ€œThere came to my mind an article by Samuel T. Whitman entitled “Forgotten Wedges.”
I had learned to use wedges when I was a lad in Arizona, it being my duty to supply wood for many fires in the big house. May I quote Whitman:

The Iron Wedge

“The ice storm wasn’t generally destructive. True, a few wires came down, and there was a sudden jump in accidents along the highway. Walking out of doors became unpleasant and difficult. It was disagreeable weather, but it was not serious. Normally, the big walnut tree could easily have borne the weight that formed on its spreading limbs. It was the iron wedge in its heart that caused the damage.
“The story of the iron wedge began years ago when the white-haired farmer was a lad on his father’s home- stead. The sawmill had then only recently been moved from the valley, and the settlers were still finding tools and odd pieces of equipment scattered about. . . .
“On this particular day, it was a faller’s wedge; โ€” wide, flat, and heavy, a foot or more long, and splayed from mighty poundings. The path from the south pasture did not pass the wood- shed; and, because he was already late for dinner, the lad laid the wedge . . . between the limbs of the young walnut tree his father had planted near the front gate. He would take the wedge to the shed right after dinner, or sometime when he was going that way.
“He truly meant to, but he never did. It was there between the limbs, a little tight, when he attained his manhood. It was there, now firmly gripped, when he married and took over his father’s farm. It was half grown over on the day the threshing crew ate dinner under the tree. . . . Grown in and healed over, the wedge was still in the tree the winter the ice storm came.
“In the chill silence of that wintry night, with the mist like rain sifting down and freezing where it fell, one of the three major limbs split away from the trunk and crashed to the ground. This so unbalanced the remainder of the top that it, too, split apart and went down. When the storm was over, not a twig of the once proud tree remained.
“Early the next morning, the farmer went out to mourn his loss.
‘Wouldn’t have had that happen for a thousand dollars,’ he said.
‘Prettiest tree in the valley, that was.’
“Then, his eyes caught sight of something in the splintered ruin. ‘The wedge,’ he muttered reproachfully.
‘The wedge I found in the south pasture.’ A glance told him why the tree had fallen. Growing edge-up in the trunk, the wedge had prevented the limb fibers from knitting together as they should.”
๐‘ญ๐’๐’“๐’ˆ๐’๐’•๐’•๐’†๐’ ๐’˜๐’†๐’…๐’ˆ๐’†๐’”!
Hidden weaknesses grown over and invisible, waiting until some winter night to work their ruin.
What better symbolizes the presence and the effect of sin in our lives?
This brings to my memory some verses I heard long years ago entitled:
๐‰๐ข๐ฆ ๐ƒ๐ข๐ž๐ ๐“๐จ๐๐š๐ฒ
Around the corner I have a friend, In this great city which has no end;
Yet, days go by and weeks rush on, And before I know it a year has gone.
And I never see my old friend’s face; For life is a swift and terrible race.
He knows I like him just as well As in the days when I rang his bell
And he rang mine.
We were younger then
And now we are busy tired men โ€”
Tired with playing the foolish game; Tired with trying to make a name;
Tomorrow, I say, I will call on Jim, Just to show I’m thinking of him.
But tomorrow comes and tomorrow goes;
And the distance between us grows and grows
Around the corner! Yet miles away โ€” Here’s a telegram, sir โ€” “Jim died today!”
And that’s what we get โ€” and deserve
in the end โ€” Around the corner, a vanished friend.
Finally, Iโ€™d like to quote more lines from Whitman:
“Pride, envy, selfishness, dishonesty, intemperance, doubt, secret passions โ€” almost numberless in variety and degree are the wedges of sin. And alas! almost numberless are the men and women who today are allowing sin to grow in the heart wood of their lives.
“The wedge is there. We know it is there. We put it there ourselves one day, when we were hurried and thoughtless. It shouldn’t be there, of course. It is harming the tree. But we are busy so we leave it there; and in time, it grows over and we forget. The years slip swiftly by. Wintertime comes with its storms and ice. The life we prized so much goes down in the unspeakable loss of spiritual disaster. For years after the wedge had grown over, the tree flourished and gave no sign of its inner weakness. Thus it is with sin.โ€
I commend the Spencer W. Kimball talk to you. Why not look it up?
๐–๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ฐ๐ž๐๐ ๐ž(๐ฌ) ๐๐จ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ง๐ž๐ž๐ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ซ๐ž๐ฆ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž ๐ข๐ง ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ฅ๐ข๐Ÿ๐ž?

Selfish vs Selfless

Recently, these two words have played over and over again in my mind. Perhaps writing this post today, will help – a little!! In order to understand selflessness, we must understand its opposite, selfishness.

  • Selfishnessย is defined as too much concerned with one’s own welfare or interests, with little or no thought for others
  • Selflessnessย is defined as being devoted to others’ welfare or interests and not one’s own.

So where do you stand with these two principles? Somewhere in the middle perhaps? Or is there a real distinct character trait that you can clearly identify with?


A selfish person frequently uses the terms, “I”, “me”, and “mine” as opposed to “we”, “ours”, “yours” or “theirs”. Generally, you’ll find that a selfish person is keen to be in the limelight, and that ultimately they’ll find no happiness in constantly pursuing a personal or business agenda filled with selfishness. Viewed in its true sense, selfishness is the absence of empathy and compassion. The products of selfishness tend to be, loneliness, arrogance, pride, lying, hypocrisy, greed, and idleness.ย  The selfish idleness, with its “I’ll do it later” attitude is procrastination at its extreme. I love this quote from a wise leader Gordon B. Hinckley, “Selfishness is a destructive, gnawing, corrosive element in the lives of many people. But the antidote to selfishness is service, reaching out to those about us – those in the home and those beyond the walls of the home”


So what of Selflessness? It is unquestionably a marvellous virtue. It is the giving of ones self in the serving of others and the giving of ones self in being served by others. Through my experience of many years of building long lasting personal and successful business relationships, the key to it all isย selflessness and service. Selflessness produces kindness and dispels hypocrisy. It develops confidence, trust and the embodiment of authentic servant leadership in every interaction with others. Selflessness fosters love, confidence, and trust.

The Power of Service

The idea of servant leadership goes back 2000 years, but in his modern ground breaking work in 1970, Robert K. Greenleaf coined the phrase “servant leader” and “servant leadership” in his classic essay “The Servant as Leader”.“The servant-leaderย isย servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serveย first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who isย leaderย first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.”

“The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they,ย while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?ย And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?”

What we desperately need today in our homes, schoolrooms and boardrooms, and certainly throughout society at large – are leaders, men and women who are willing to stand for principles of goodness and virtue. In leadership standing for these principles, there is often loneliness – but ultimately the courage of one’s convictions brings great happiness, joy and long lasting relationships of trust and happiness.

How can you develop greater selflessness?