Discover the Bible and Faith in History

Day 1 of 5 • This day’s reading


No Matter How Busy I Am

Booker T. Washington (1856–1915) was born enslaved but became an influential American leader. Promoting educational and business opportunities for African Americans, he spoke and wrote widely, and even advised presidents. Just as the Lord encouraged Joshua to keep reading and memorizing the Scriptures each day (Joshua 1:8), Washington received similar encouragement as a young man. In his 1901 memoir, Up From Slavery, he wrote:

“The education that I received at Hampton [Institute] out of the text-books was but a small part of what I learned there. One of the things that impressed itself upon me deeply, the second year, was the unselfishness of the teachers. It was hard for me to understand how any individuals could bring themselves to the point where they could be so happy in working for others. Before the end of the year, I think I began learning that those who are happiest are those who do the most for others. This lesson I have tried to carry with me ever since.…

“Perhaps the most valuable thing that I got out of my second year was an understanding of the use and value of the Bible. Miss Nathalie Lord, one of the teachers, from Portland, Me., taught me how to use and love the Bible. Before this I had never cared a great deal about it, but now I learned to love to read the Bible, not only for the spiritual help which it gives, but on account of it as literature. The lessons taught me in this respect took such a hold upon me that at the present time, when I am at home, no matter how busy I am, I always make it a rule to read a chapter or a portion of a chapter in the morning, before beginning the work of the day.”


Washington says that he learned to “use” and to “love” the Bible from an unselfish teacher. How are these things related? 

What is the role of good models and teachers in helping us love what is good? Who taught you about the Bible? How might you teach others? 

Spend some time with today’s passage in Joshua 1. What does God tell Joshua about the connection between memorization, obedience, success, and courage? How might Booker T. Washington have found spiritual—and practical—help from this passage? What does it say to you?

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