Arthur Blank the owner of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons is not only an American success story, he is also a good neighbor.
Born in the Flushing neighborhood of the New York City borough of Queens. Blank has amassed millions improving neighborhoods as the co-founder of Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer.
Blank also helped his neighbors through his philanthropic efforts, making a personal pledge to give away at least 50% of his wealth during his lifetime.
His Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, helps neighbors around the world, and promotes innovative solutions to transform the lives of youths and their families.
Formed in 1995, the Foundation has provided more than $300 million to many charitable organizations.
Blank’s Rules for Neighborly Success
Arthur Blank credits much of his success working with neighbors in business, sports and philanthropy, to these six simple yet powerful rules:
1. Put people first.
2. Listen to the customer.
3. Include everyone.
4. Innovate continuously.
5. Lead by example.
6. Give back.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan and The Blank Rules
Loving and caring for our neighbor is the commandment of God and is a key element in our Christian faith.
The power of these timeless rules from Arthur Blank is evident in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Jesus uses the parable in response to the question of a local lawyer who ask “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus responds to the lawyer’s question by asking him, “What is written in the law?”
The lawyer reads the law back to Jesus by saying it is commanded that “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
Looking for a loophole to trip up Jesus, the lawyer asked, “And who is my neighbor?”
In response, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan; this is where the Blank rules come into play. Let’s look at the parable in a different way, by using the Blank rules for treating his neighbor.
Putting People First
“There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man. A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds.”
Question: Who followed the Blank rule of putting people (his neighbor) first? Was it the priest? Was it the Levite religious man? Or was it the Samaritan?
Listen To The Customer / Include Everyone
“He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning, he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill-I’ll pay you on my way back.'”
Comment: By giving the injured man first aid and taking him to an inn, the Samaritan was listing to the concerns of his customer without a word being said.
Getting the innkeeper to help was smart; it expanded the care for this injured neighbor by getting others involved.
How often as Christians do we take the “Lone Ranger” approach to loving our neighbor? We should remember that even the “Lone Ranger” was never alone; he always had Tonto at his side.
Comment: You may say what was so innovative about the Samaritan tending to an injured person? Apple founder Steve Jobs, and noted innovator, said that innovation most often is not about doing something new. He said that innovation most of the time is about doing something that others were unwilling to do.
The Samaritan was innovative because he did something for “his neighbor” that the Priest and the religious Levite were unwilling to do.
Question: How willing are we to innovate for our neighbor?
Lead By Example
Once the parable was completed, Jesus then asked the Lawyer, “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”
The lawyer responded, “The one who treated him kindly.”
Comment: The Samaritan has set the example.
Then Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”
Comment: The Samaritan has set the example; now Jesus wants us to go and set examples for others.
Yes, Arthur Blank is a good neighbor; some may argue that it is easy to be a good neighbor when you are a billionaire!
However, let me remind you that Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
While I am not handicapping Mr. Blank’s afterlife, I am saying that all of us must be good neighbors, regardless of our resources.
For when we live our lives keeping the commandment to “love our neighbors as we love ourselves,” we and our neighbors will all be the richer for it.
Marben Bland is the pastor of Hall Chapel and Mitchell Chapel AME Churches in Sparta, Georgia.