By Mark Rodgers
Several months ago I shared my reflections on Jack Heaslip, the traveling pastor for U2, whose death recently was compounded for the band by the unexpected death of their longstanding tour manager.
This month, I sadly have to share my reflections on the life of another Jack … Dr. “Jack” Templeton, who until his death was the President of the John Templeton Foundation.
I first met Jack in the late 1980’s through my father who was, at that time, the dean of Trinity School for Ministry in Pittsburgh. Throughout his life Jack understood that a person is body, soul and mind. As a physician, he cared for people’s bodies. As a son of his father, he cared that people pursue knowledge and truth. As a Christian, he cared for people’s souls. And as a philanthropist, he attended to all three.
I worked with Jack formally and informally throughout my time on Capitol Hill, as well as the years after. When his face comes to mind, it is a sly smile I see; mischievous, almost. He was up to good, and he exuded an inner joy that came with it. I would encourage you to read his remarkable biography.
Generosity with Humility. I have met many wealthy people over the years, but few as unassuming as Jack. He poured himself out for others, and resisted the temptation, it seems to me, to seek recognition. Rather, he elevated humility as the prime virtue, along with it’s sister virtue gratitude. The charitable giving I am aware of was literally just the tip of his iceberg. Scripture says to let your good deeds go unknown to man, or you will have received your reward already. Jack came home to a mansion filled with heavenly treasure that he stored up with years of practicing generosity with humility.
Compassion through Curiosity and Creativity. Jack was a very factual man … whenever I hear the word “factoid” I think of him. As a trained doctor, he had to be. But it was compassion for others that made him a doctor. I wish I had seen him in action caring for a young child. What stands out to me, however, was his willingness to know what he did not know, and be willing to learn. Curiosity in the service of compassion. He was not bound by the facts he knew, he was motivate to know what he did not. So to my surprise, this made him a very creative man. He was willing to step into new spaces and dream of new ways to care for others. He was even willing to indulge me and support the creation of a graphic novel!
Love without Condition. In the end, the word I associate the most with Jack is “love.” Love of Others. Love of Country. Love of God. Love for his family. I was honored to work with him on projects that expressed his love for others, country and God. But I was most affected by the love I heard and saw him express for his family, especially his wife, Pina. On the several occasions we were able to share a meal with Jack and Pina, my wife and I left saying to each other that this is the kind of intimacy, friendship, respect and love that we want to manifest when we are their age.
This has been a year of sad losses, and there may be more in store. But I am comforted that Jack has “passed out of death into love …. for whoever does not love abides in death. By this we know love, that He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for others. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3: 14,16-18
I hope I can walk the rest of my life in the ways the two Jacks did. I was honored to know them.