James Kraft
James Kraft

Keeping our spiritual priorities straight, while pursuing our dreams and ambitions of life, is a common challenge for followers of Jesus Christ. Here’s the instructive story of how one committed Christian did that very successfully.

In 1903 an ambitious young man named James Kraft moved to Chicago, Illinois, with the desire of becoming the most successful manufacturer and salesman of cheese in the world. A dedicated Christian and a hard worker, James purchased a pony named Paddy and a wagon. He bought cheese in bulk wholesale and sold it to grocers in smaller quantities, neatly packaged in ways that delayed spoiling in an era before refrigeration.

Early each morning he loaded his wagon with cheese then delivered it to stores throughout the city. But as the months passed, Kraft began to despair. Despite all his long hours and hard work he was making very little profit.

One day he pulled his wagon to a stop and began talking to his pony: “Paddy, there is something wrong. We are not doing it right. I am afraid we have things turned around and our priorities are not where they ought to be. Maybe we ought to serve God and place Him first in our lives.” He then drove home and made a covenant that for the rest of his life he would first serve the Lord and then work as God directed.

Kraft went on to keep his pledge, and the Lord greatly prospered his business ventures. In 1916 he invented and patented a process of pasteurizing cheese which resisted spoiling and could be shipped long distances. In the years that followed his business expanded into international markets and developed a number of additional food products, leading to his company being renamed Kraft Foods, Inc.

North Shore Baptist Church - Chicago, IL
North Shore Baptist Church – Chicago, IL

James Kraft joined the North Shore Baptist Church in Chicago and served as Superintendent of its large Sunday School for forty years. As a Trustee of Northern Baptist Theological Seminary he underwrote the education of many eventual clergymen. His communications to employees were interspersed with Bible texts.

He used to say: “I would rather be a layman in the North Shore Baptist Church than to head the greatest corporation in America. My first job is serving Jesus.”

Serving Christ first, of course, does not guarantee that we’ll experience extraordinary success in our endeavors of life like James Kraft did. Many who put the Lord first in their lives enjoy a modest rather than an exceptional degree of success from a human perspective.

But all who put Jesus first and faithfully serve Him receive abundant blessings on all aspects of their lives – personal spiritual growth, ministry undertakings, career endeavors, interpersonal relationships and much more. Even more important than the blessings that come to us, Christ is rightly served and honored through our lives.

James Kraft Quote

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

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