Francis Bacon

(From Of Great Place)

Men in great place are thrice servants: servants of the sovereign or state; servants of fame; and servants of business. So as they have no freedom; neither in their persons, nor in their actions, nor in their times. It is a strange desire, to seek power and to lose liberty: or to seek power over others and to lose power over a man’s self. The rising unto place is laborious; and by pains men come to greater pains; and it is sometimes base; and by indignities men come to dignities…

Cum non sis qui fueris, non esse cur velis vivere [when you are no longer what you were, there is no reason why you should wish to live]…Certainly great persons had need to borrow other men’s opinions, to think themselves happy; for if they judge by their own feeling, they cannot find it: but if they think with themselves what other men think of them, and that other men would fain be as they are, then they are happy as it were by report; when perhaps they find the contrary within. For they are the first that find their own griefs, though they be the last that find their own faults. Certainly men in great fortunes are strangers to themselves, and while they are in the puzzle of business they have no time to tend to their health either of body or mind. Illi mors gravis incubat, qui notus nimis omnibus, ignotus moritur sibi [it is a sad fate for a man to die too well known to everybody else, and still unknown to himself].

In place there is license to do good and evil…But power to do good is the true and lawful end of aspiring. For good thoughts (though God accept them) yet towards men are little better than good dreams, except they be put in act; and that cannot be without power and place, as the vantage and commanding ground. Merit and good works is the end of man’s motion, and conscience of the same is the accomplishment of man’s rest. For if a man be partaker of God’s theatre, he shall likewise be partaker of God’s rest.

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Machiavelli

“A return to first principles in a republic is sometimes caused by the simple virtues of one man. His good example has such an influence that the good men strive to imitate him, and the wicked are ashamed to lead a life so contrary to his example.”

I once heard Kirk Bennett ask those at IHOP-KC if they really believed in the power of prayer. I want to believe that I, through making prayer a lifestyle, am continually affecting those around me to live for righteousness. I am so far from getting there, but like Josiah says, you inevitably travel in the direction of your focus, so I am focused on being able to say, “follow my example” (Phil. 4:9).