William Borden graduated high school with the world at his fingertips.
His parents gave him a trip around the world as a graduation present.
This young man could have had anything he wanted. His family was rich, and he was in line to inherit a fortune. He enrolled at Yale to continue his studies after returning from the worldwide venture. However, William’s story doesn’t exactly turn out as you might expect.
There aren’t many things in life that I can honestly say I hate. The Devil and his lies, cottage cheese, and any kind of shark are definitely on that list. But there is at least one more qualifier for sure that I know of.
I hate the saying, “Time is money.” Hear it all the time. Can’t stand it.
And I’m convinced that William Borden hated it too.
Time is not money. These two commodities could not be further from equal. In comparison to time, the value of money is closer to an old Wal-Mart bag caught on a barbwire fence than anything else. They’re not comparable.
Money is far less valuable than time for several reasons.
First off, it’s temporary. Fleeting. Money can be absent in your life one day, present the next, and then disappear again. That’s life. And in the end, it’s ultimately meaningless.
Bill Gates and the homeless guy down the street will both meet the same fate one day, and on that day, the billions separating them won’t make a bit of difference.
As Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty so eloquently put it: “We all go six feet deep in the ground...We all end up in a casket.”
“Everything goes back in the box,” said John Ortberg, comparing life to a giant game of Monopoly.
It all starts over. When you die, everything you’ve amassed in your life, all your money, all your fast cars and beautiful houses, all your prestigious memberships and respectable awards, everything is just handed over to other people to use for their turn. And on and on it goes.
In the case of William Borden’s story, many would say, “He was already rich. What more could he want?”
It’s a very common, logical question in today’s world.
Getting rich is the ultimate goal of so many people. So it’s no surprise that it baffles those people when someone else attains wealth and continues striving for other things.
Because William understood that life consisted of more than money, he decided to focus on how he spent his time instead.
In his first semester at the university, William met with just one other student for a Bible study. Three years later, 1,000 Yale students were meeting for Bible studies that had grown from William’s initial efforts.
William’s impact was not limited to campus. He was known to frequent New Haven, helping homeless people find something to eat. This ministry soon grew into Yale Hope Mission, a group that helped the homeless and alcoholic.
William understood the fickle nature of money. He was already rich at 18 years old but strove for something more, something that would last. He set out to make a difference in people’s lives, and that’s exactly what he did.
The second reason the time-money comparison is laughable boils down to simple economics: supply and demand.
Money is far less valuable because there’s far more of it.
Money might be fleeting and finite, but there’s always more. Think about it. The richest person in the world, the one with more assets and possessions than anyone else, can still get a little richer.
That’s the world’s flawed way of viewing ambition and success. Always strive for more. More money, more followers, nicer cars, bigger houses, etc. In the world’s eyes, you can never get enough. You’re always hungry, always thirsty, until the day you die.
Time is different. There’s a hard limit to how much of this commodity you have to work with. Unlike money, time has a cap, making this resource unique in that you never know how much you have until you run out.
Some people use up all their time, only to look back and realize they spent it all on things that won’t last another week. How unfortunate. You’re only alive for so long, and nothing can change that. All you can do is spend what you have been given.
William went on to graduate from Yale and enroll in Princeton Seminary for graduate work. After his studies were completed, he decided to leave America for the mission field. He felt called to minister to Muslims in China, but first, he had to learn Arabic. William sailed for Egypt to learn the language.
While in Egypt, William contracted spinal meningitis. Within three months, the 25-year-old was dead.
Which do you think was more valuable to him? His time or his wealth?
William had all the money he could ever want, but only 25 years of life. He had more money than most of us will ever have, and yet, his riches were an insignificant part of who he really was.
The most admirable thing about this young man was not the size of his inheritance, or that he was accepted into Yale and Princeton, or that he had the privilege of touring the world.
The most admirable quality in William Borden was his spending habits.
He only had 25 years to spend, and yet, he made more of an impact than some people will make in 70. He spent his time well. He invested in something that will far outlast money. People.
He cared about and loved those around him, setting out to help others who were hurting and hungry.
As we go about our lives, we would do well to remember William Borden, to remember that each of us has been given a set number of days, and how we spend each of them will determine how we’re remembered long after we’re gone.
Editor's Note: This blog was written by Mason Beasler, an intern for the AFA Journal.