Calling + Striving + Helping = Victory


He was not a doctor, lawyer, or what some might call a white-collar professional. Standing just over six feet tall, rugged-looking with a well-tanned, leather-like skin and calloused hands, Irven worked for the railroad cleaning up train wrecks and repairing damaged track. Though many people never knew the physically draining work to which he was accustomed, he was more than known and loved by many. Long after he retired, at the age of ninety-three, Irven passed from this life to his eternal reward.

While he worked for the railroad from a teenager to his retirement forty-some years later, the railroad was not his calling. It was his occupation. His calling was to show love and compassion to others, teenage boys in particular. At his viewing and since, several of us stood around telling stories of him picking us up on Saturday morning and driving us to church ball games, parks, or just to get a soda.

We talked about camping trips, picnics, spelunking, and so many other outings with Mr. Schanie. Not only the fun times, but we also recanted how Mr. Irven Schanie had influenced our lives even fifty to sixty years later. You see, Mr. Schanie had found his calling in life and he strove daily to fulfill that calling, whether it was teaching on Sunday morning, working in someone’s yard weeknights, riding us around in his little Volks-Wagen, coaching baseball on Saturday or any of the many other things he did for us. It was always about helping, teaching, and guiding others.

There is a little more to the equation in the title. Victory in life is understanding your God-given calling, daily striving to attain your greatest potential, while helping others reach for theirs along the way.

There are many young men, hundreds, who were touched by this one man. And it is all because he knew and lived by the above equation. Each person has a God-given calling, something they were purposed for. We each must uncover our calling and grow to understand what it means. Yet, more than that, we are to strive daily to reach our full potential to leave a positive impact. And all the while – all our life-long journey, we are to help others discover their calling as well.

Where do you find yourself in that equation? Do you know and understand your calling? Are you striving to be your best every day? Whose life are you impacting – leading them in discovery and implementation of their calling? What will you improve today?

Perhaps to his co-workers and neighbors he was Irven, but to several hundred men of various ages he was and will always be Mr. Schanie, teacher of life’s victory equation.

George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at

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