He was born in 1783. His family was so poor that he considered himself a burden to them, so when he was just 19 years old, he left home and set off to make a life for himself. He had worked two years in his father’s manufacturing business of soaps and candles but failed to succeed in it. From there, William Colgate decided to go into business on his own, but within a year that business failed as well.
When two failures like these happen at a young age, it often becomes the breaking point where dreams are abandoned. But William traveled to New York City to start anew. On the way, a Christian friend of his gave him words that changed him forever. “Give your heart to Christ,” he said, “and give God all that belongs to Him. And make an honest soap. Someone will be the leading soap maker in New York. It may be you!”
That day, William Colgate became a Christian and a giver. After working as an apprentice for another soap maker, William started his own business. Unlike his previous attempts, this was a success from the beginning. William proved to live out his Christian life and gave radically until his death.
I’ve learned some lessons from William Colgate.
The first is this: failures happen to the best of us. Don’t quit. “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9. Everyone fails at some point. But not everyone gets up again. Only winners do.
Learn from mistakes, both yours and others.
“The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.” Proverbs 24:16
“Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life.” Proverbs 19:20
Honor God and give.
“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” Luke 6:38
William’s success in business was directly tied to his commitment to God and his resolve to give. Let’s learn from his example.