You've probably never heard of him, but William C. Ralston was a very important and successful man. He lived in California in the 1800s. He earned so much money that he was able to buy a villa on a hillside and turn it into a huge, elaborate mansion. What was his house then is now the main building on the campus of the College of Notre Dame in Belmont, California, near San Francisco.
Ralston also became very involved in the railroads and helped to start new communities along the railroad lines, like the one between San Francisco and Carson City, Nevada. This community grew well because of W. C. Ralston, and the people soon wanted to make it into a real city with a real government and a real name. They got together to choose a name.
A number of people in the community wanted to name the town after Ralston, in appreciation for all he'd done for them. But, though Ralston was honored, he refused. He suggested they find another name. The townspeople continued to propose that the town be named for Ralston, but he continued to refuse. What were they going to do?
Finally, someone had an idea. They knew that Ralston's humility prevented them from calling the town "Ralston," or something similar, but he certainly couldn't object to the solution they proposed. So they decided to honor Ralston by naming the town Modesto, the Spanish word for "modest."
Ralston had many reasons to be proud. He was a successful businessman, wealthy and respected. But he refused to boast or brag about his abilities or accomplishments. He chose to be humble and even refused the honor of having a town named after him. Today, Modesto, California, is a thriving city of more than one hundred thousand people. Most of the people who live there don't even know who W. C. Ralston was-and that would have been just fine with him.
It's easy to admire someone like W. C. Ralston because in spite of his success, he refused to brag or boast. That's because humility is a godly virtue, something that makes us respect an accomplished person even more. It's like a perfect pearl or diamond valuable because it's good and also because it's rare.
REFLECT: Would you act differently than Ralston if someone wanted to name a town after you? Why or why not? Do you ever praise yourself? Why or why not? Do you want to develop the kind of humility W. C. Ralston had? If so, how can you start?
ACT: See if you can locate the town of Modesto in an atlas. Leave the book open on your desk or bedside table today to remind you to be humble in all you do.
PRAY: "Lord, I'm not worthy of praise, but you are. I praise you, Lord."