Mover of Men and Mountains by R.G. LeTourneauYet I never got past the seventh grade in school. At the age of 30 my garage had failed and I was $5,000 in debt [2018 equivalent ~$80,000]. At the age of 44 I lost so heavily on contracts that my employees, with more faith in me than I had in myself, took up a collection to get me back on my feet. That was me, working on my own.
If there is no logical explanation of my development of the digger, there is a theological one, available to all of us, includeing the weakest. By accepting God as your partner, no limit can be placed on what can be achieved. (2)
As one preacher put it, God will forgive your sins, all right, but I wouldnt make a policy of going to Heaven raising Hell on the way. (3)
In their [Caterpillar, General Motors, International Harvester, Allis Chalmers, etc.] midst I am the hick from the backwoods of Duluth, but during World War II it was our organization that built over fifty per cent of the earth-moving equipment used in combat. (3)
Reporters have often asked me, Did you start from scratch? My answer to that is, Every time. . . . Yes, I started from scratch, all right, and was still starting from scratch at the age of fourty-four. And the One who picked me up and started me over with my strength and ambition fully restored is the same Lord and Savior available to all for the asking. (4)
I cant say I had a wretched childhood, but it could have been a lot happier if I had let it. (10)
I had one odd experience when I was in the fifth grade. Before that I had always had just enough black marks to overcome the red ones and get me passed from one grade to the next. In my fifith year I suddenly discovered arithmetic made sense. Geography was not just some pink, green, and yellow areas on a map, but real places, perhaps with palm trees instead of snow. And reading - if you read from one paragraph to the next instead of spelling out one word at a time, you could get a lot of fascinating information from books. I was so amazed at this sudden awakening that I read through all the books in the fifth grade and most of the sixth grades books too. (11) [emphasis added]
What a lesson that has been to me all my life. Discovering my fathers love changed my whole attitude, and chores that I had hated and fought against resentfully, I now did cheerfully because I wanted to serve him. Its like that, only more so, when you discover the Lord. (17)
The beards didnt deceive me because it was common knowledge among boys that the beards saved the cost of shaving, stiff collars, and neckties while being a great relief to the neck. (23)
But better a poor steam engine that runs than a good one never finished. . . . Mindful of the old Germans warning that an unfinished machine never works, I started contruction on the scraper that night, not even delaying to draw up plans. With my welding torch and plenty of scrap iron I could build a machine faster than I could draw one on paper anyway. (36)
Which reminds me of the comment of another graduate of the School of Hard Knocks. Our school colors are black and blue, he said grimly, and our school yell is Ouch! (40)
Twelve years later I was to learn how smug I had been in thinking God was on my side. Ever since then, with His help, I have tried hard to be on His side. (41) // *truth.*
Folks ask me what difference a mans religion makes as long as he is sincere, and I say it makes a big difference. The Bible says there is no other name under heaven whereby we can be saved but the name of Jesus. Uncle Bob was just as sincere as he could be, and he wouldnt have hurt me, his namesake, for the world, but his sincerity couldnt stop that gas from exploding, nor save me from being in the midst of the explosion . . . Other factors, too, were advanced to account for my unharmed state, but when I was on my knees that night I was not thanking a freak combination of physical laws for my deliverance. I knew I had been saved by the Lord Jesus, and all my thanks were directed to Him. (73) // being both entirely sincere and completely wrong is commonly understood as being sincerely wrong, as many people in the world often are
Instead of being happy about his [Elmer Jones, a friend of R.G. in the early 1910s] success, however, he felt more and more the urge to do something to improve the living standards of the Chinese, and being a devout Christian, he had felt strongly that the biggest gift he could give them was the Word of God.
I couldnt lift them up all by myself, he told us, but I knew that if they knew God, He would give them the strength to lift themselves. (87) // the only way to do any type of humanitarian work. victims will remain victims if not actively involved in their own recovery.
Or as I sometimes put it more bluntly, Its all right to give God credit, but He can use cash, too. You know, they say you cant take it with you, but I say you can send it on ahead, and have it waiting to your credit when you get there. (90)
We [R.G. and Evelyn] took our problem to the Lord, and felt better about it. You know, a lot of people take their problems to the Lord, and get up and walk away, carrying their problems back with them. LIke those who pray for rain, and then go out without an umbrella. If thats all the faith there is, there is not much point in praying. The Lord cant help you if you insist on carrying your problems with you. Leave them with Him, and they are no longer yours but His. (103)
So I should have been happy. The more hours the job took, the more money I made.
SOmehow Im not made to think that way. Ive heard it called both efficiency and laziness, but when I start a job I instinctively hunt first for the easiest way and then, mindful of Mr. Hill in Portland, the fastest way. Dont work hard; just fast. (114)
It may sound like an exaggeration, but I was in my business for five years before I noticed it had started. It was that small. (121)
You could buy them [the 1922 Fresno automobile] for a song, even with my voice. (124)
When a man loafs, you cant be sure if hes an idler, a dreamer, or a deep thinkier; when a machine loafs you can be sure the inefficiency is not its fault. (128)
Both at the start lacked, among other things, the contributions from the other fields of science needed for their development. (131)
In the end, I was forced to build my own machines to build my own machines, something I still have to do. (136) // lathe wasnt long enough for the axles he was working on.
You will never improve unless you blame yourself for the troubles you have. Then when you realize your troubles are your own, you can take them to the Lord, and He will give you guidance. Just dont make the mistake of asking Him to believe the other fellow was to blame. (147) // lesson extrapolated from a conversation with Kaiser, of construction fame
He [Kaiser] was a demon driver, always trying to coax 100 miles an hour out of a boat designed to do half that. (157)
Back when I was building Kaisers factory and he was getting ready for the job at Eureka, we had tried to interest a tractor company in building a machine with Diesel power. The amount of interest we aroused was notable for its absence. (158)
In designing the cable-controlled scraper, I began a practice of working with my engineers that is still in effect. I drew up a plan for the cable controls, and handed it to them. They got out their slide rules and figured out why it wouldnt work. I got my pencil, figured out why it would, and handed it back. I liken it to a chess game in which my engineers will checkmate my moves with every technical trick at their command, or Il checkmate them with a few moves that arent always in the books. Back and forth we go, give a little and tak a little. When Ive got a good design, I can win in a week. When Ive got a poor design, they win, but it takes them longer. Thats what makes us unique. Weve got the only engineering department in the country where the president of the firm wears out as many erasers in the drafting room as his engineers. (159)
The only job in sight like that was too big, but I wanted it anyway. (161)
But Ive always been of the opinion that there is no harm in hiring relatives as long as they work twice as hard as anyone else. Another important factor was that in my uncertain progress, with chicken one day and feathers the next, my relatives would go without salary a lot longer than I dared ask of others. (162) // exactly how my parents hired my bro and i to our first jobs at their business
I was seeing the point, but I had to add, But how can he call himself a Christian, and serve as the senior member of the church, and still take the money when its rightfully mine?
Going to church doesnt make a Christian. I heard, unless he goes there with an open heart to seek God. Then He seemed to say, You may take your choice. You may place the case in the hands of your attorney, or you may leave it in My hands. (167)
That night I got down on my knees and gave due thanks to God for His bounty, and for sparing us from the business depression that was sweeping the country. And now that the new factory is finished, well really do some business. So instead of giving You Your share now, Ill put it all into expanding the busienss, and next year You will get a share to be proud of.
To what foolish lengths man will let his pride drive him. God does not do business that way. He keeps His promises. When you ask His help, He doesnt answer that He has a lot of pressing things to attend to, so come back next year. His time is now. In the early days the true Chrisitans gave God His share from the first fruits of the crops. They had faith. They didnt wait around to see if the later crops were to be destroyed by locusts or drought. Let Gods will be done, and the rewards will be so great there wont be room to store them. But start to hedge, and wait to see how the whole crop turns out before giving God His share, and He knows you as a man of little faith. He sure spotted my flase reasoning in a hurry. (173) // 1 Sam 15:22 - ...to obey is better than sacrifice...
With a little luck and no floods, I stood to clear better than a half-million dollars for a years work.
With a little luck! What a false goddess that is for a Christian to call upon when he can know with absolute certainty where he stands when he stands right with God. My trouble was that I hadnt done right with our Lord. (175)
! :D (177-178)
I wont go so far as to say that the Lord is sending me here, or the Lord is sending me there, or telling me to do this and that. I think we need to walk softly before the Lord, and be sure it isnt our own desires that we mistake for the Lords voice. But I do firmly believe the Lord can lead us when our hearts are right and receptive to His will. (188)
When I presented them [big tire companies in the early 1930s] with their own theories on low-pressure tires [R.G. wanted some for his earth movers rather than the traditional steel wheels] as applied to my business, they gave me the usual verdict. I was crazy. (198)
What could I tell a Chamber of Commerce meeting? I knew also that they thought I was something of a crackpot, with wild ideas about manufacturing with a welding torch, and even wilder ones about being in some kind of partnership with God.
Its bad enough to have to talk, I told myself, without being pegged as a looney before you open your mouth. (202) // if i had read this while attending LU, it mightve changed my major
We claim to be in partnership with God, I began, but we arent really. We have a good year, and we give Him a tithe as his share. In the old days a tithe was forced on people, and they had to give ten per cent of their income to God whether they wanted to or not. Now we arent compelled to give to God. Its all voluntary. The only thing is, when you consier what God has done for us, we ought to do better for Him out of gratitutde than the doubters had to do by law. You get right down to it, and we believers arent doing a bit more than the doubters had to do in the old days. (203)
When the Lord has a job for you to do, Hell give you the strength and the ability to do it. (206)
In the meantime, the few brief testimonies I ahd given in Peoria had brought in invitations to speak in adjacent cities. The fact that my own business was growing so fast that I was spending up to 18 hours a day at the shop made it all the more important that I accept the invitations. With the Lord bringing prosperity to my side of the business, certainly I ahd to do all in my power to carry on His work. (211)
...all I had done was obey one of the first principles of engineering. I had eliminated all unnecessary parts, and produced a machine that was stark in its simplicity. (215) // elegance is minimalist. it is simplicity. the necessary done beautifully.
Ive carried that on ever since. In my business the best is none too good. I know in mnay instances I can buy mass produced electric motors, relay switches, gears, and even steel plate and steel cable cheaper than I can make it myself, but in every instance I would have to sacrifice something of my machine to make it conform to the limitations of the mass-produced item. . . . Either I limited the size and scope of my machines to the mass-produced parts I could buy cheaply, in whih case we became an assembly plant of other firms products, or I built my machines the way I wanted them built, and backed them up with component parts built by myself to my own specifications. (217)
Friction, as I often point out in my talks, is the chief enemy of the mechanic. It destroys more than half a machines power while at the same time destroying the machine itself. But if friction is bad in a machine, it is worse between man and man. The wrost form of all, bar none, is friction between man and God. (223)
There, in what had once been a warehouse back by the pond, Evelyn had made a completely modern home which she refused to let me see until the last wall was papered and the last curtain hung. There we still live, and though our grandchildren now number seventeen, the time hasnt been when we didnt have room for everybody. (243) [emphasis added] // just like my family. also, i think thats by the current fraternities??
In the three million or so miles that Ive flown, Ive been able to carry the Lords message to more people than I could have met in three lifetimes of land and sea travel. God didnt have to give us wings to fly. He gave us the mechanical genius to fly further and faster than any winged creature in His realm, and as a mechanic, that is good enough for me. . . . The air is Gods, too, as well as the land and the sea, and His Will will be done no matter wher you are. Its a nice thing to know. You are never out of His reach. (244)
I didnt even know where Liberia was.
I was enlightened immediately. Liberia, on the western bulge of Africa just north of the equator, was a republic put together more than 100 years ago [from 1959] largely for the purpose of providing a homeland for hundreds of freed American slaves. In spite of the fact that the original colonists were of African descent, they had faced the hardships of colonists everywhere. The native tribesmen resented them as English speaking turncoats, and refused to accept htem or their Christian way of life. The result was that the Liberians of American ancestry banded togheter in such coastal cities as Monrovia and Cape Palmas while the interior remained the doman of savage tribes, some of which practiced cannibalism.
Not until the 20th century did Christian missionaries get into the interior in strength enough to produce lasting results. And the results they did produce were pitifully small. They were doing good for the natives, in itself such a full-time job that only rarely could they teach the natives to do good for themselves. (247) // I never knew this about Liberia.
Before you can substitute a new way of life for the old, you have to prove that the new way of life is better. (249) // the more i look into humanitarian efforts, the more i find this concept... and the true-er i find it to be.
...I wanted the natives to see the power of God at work in their own lives. Once they had seen His power in better housing, food, and medical care, the spiritual rewards of knowing Christ would be eagerly sought. Maybe a lot of heathens have been converted to Christianity while slowly starving to death, but my own idea is that God, as the great Creator and Producer, would like to have that side of Him shown, too. If our missionaries since the time of Christ had to suffer and starve with their converts, I am sure it was not from choice. If they had had the machines to improve living standards, they would have welcomed them. It would have been un-Christian to keep their converts starving when there was a better way out, and now that we have the machines, it would be un-Christian not to use them for the betterment of humanity. (250) // AMEN!
No one has ever measured the inventiveness that Christ awakens in a mans soul because it is beyond measurement. (254) // E. W. Kenyon makes a similar argument in Two Kinds of Knowledge about the connection between Christ/the Holy Spirit and innovation
In 1953, too, I began my second big Four-point program [Tournavista] at the headwaters of the Amazon in Peru. (257) // the first being Tournata in Liberia
...all the restrictions in the world cannot stop a man from thinking, and I had had some might big thoughts. (264)
I have learned that God is love, and love wants to be loved. That is why He made us with His attributes, and so gave us the power to love and to hate, the power to choose between good and evil and say I will or I will not. God loves the sinner, but He hates sin. He made the universe, and all living things in it, and pronounced it god, but He wasnt satisfied yet. He said, Let us make man in Our own image and in Our own likeness. So He breathed into man the breath of life, and man became a living soul. I believe with all the living soul that He gave me that God wanted a creature so like Himself that He could always be in fellowship with him.
That privilege of fellowship with Him is a reward beyond comprehension, but He does not stop there. When you come to love Him and serve Him, then all else is yours, now and forevermore. I believe that when I have done what I can for Him down here, He will change this body of mine that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body. Philippians 3:21. Not because I was so good, but because the Lord Jesus Christ was good enough to die for me, and I accepted His offer of salvation and have been born again into the family of God. John 3:16. That same offer is open to all. No greater can ever be made. Try it. And as I always end my testimonies, God bless you. Amen. (275) // beautiful
If you waste dollars for me, its not too serious - I can make that up. But dont waste my time - it cant be recalled. [R. G. LeTourneau] (278)
Mover of men and mountains : the autobiography of R.G. LeTourneau
This book underscores that God can use anyone who is willing to sumit ALL to him. Mr LeTourneau shows us that you can have complete integerty in business and still suceed. This book has been a It is a testimony of the truth of God's word - if we seek His wisdom it is granted freely; if we give our best for His glory we Mover of Men and Mountains. Despite early failures, R. LeTourneau rose to eminence in the competitive world of manufacturing and construction.
Though they may not recognize his name, virtually the entire world has been affected by the innovation of R. Essentially an inventor of machines, LeTourneau created many of the massive earth movers that miraculously accomplished what is now taken for granted. General Carl Spaatz—who would eventually become the first Chief of Staff of the newly formed US Air Force—even came to speak to his factory floor to inspire the workers with the tales of their machines in the combat theatres. My idea was that if a man was going all out for God, he would have to be a preacher, or an evangelist, or a missionary, or what we call a full-time Christian worker. Though he would be penniless several times over throughout his life, LeTourneau would eventually be a very rich man. He ultimately owned five plants, including one in Australia, and had his own twin-engine Douglas A bomber and a personal pilot to fly around the world.
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