V is for V. J. Smith

Sections of this topic

    Some of our lives are meant to be a living example of spirituality. Some of us are meant to witness other people’s lives as a living spiritual example and learn from that. Either way, it takes an open heart and eyes to see how different people’s lives can impact ours.

    I struggled finding a V author. I almost considered using an author who had a V in her name. Then I said a prayer at the beginning of the week asking God to guide me to who I was meant to write about and thus really learn from. For a couple of weeks I’ve had this book on my desk that I thought I was going to for a customer service training that I conducted last week. I didn’t use it and I didn’t put it away either. Yesterday I felt a nudge to pick it up and wouldn’t you know it, the author’s name is V.J. Smith. The book is called The Richest Man in Town published by Simple Truths.

    As an affiliate for Simple Truths, I’ve seen this movie before and was touched by it. While I had bought the book, I hadn’t read it. I finished it this morning with tears streaming down my cheeks. Click here to watch the inspirational movie around it.Then I’ll share a few ways this story touched my heart.

    It reminded me of the best-selling book Tuesdays with Morrie, with the life lessons learned from the student/mentor relationship. This time the student was the highly educated one Alumni Director at a college and the mentor, the Wal-mart cashier who lived in a trailer park.

    Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer said that sometimes your life might be the only bible people read. Thus is the case with Marty in this story. It never mentions what and if Marty was religious. However, it is so obvious from reading this book that Marty’s life lived the religion of love. The second greatest commandment from the bible is to love our neighbors as ourselves. All other major religions preach a similar religion of love. Every day Marty went to work as a Wal-mart Cashier, he showed his love to each person he met, including kids, by making them feel important with a handshake and good cheer.

    Lessons V.J. Smith learned from his time with Marty is that relationships matter most. You might only have 2 minutes to connect with someone, but that two minutes can leave a forever impression. He shares that “Few people can actually change the world. Marty showed me that you can change your world. Along the way, you have the opportunity to be a powerful influence on the lives of other people, no matter what your position in life.”

    After seeing Marty in action and being wowed by his service, V.J. Smith did the thing that many of us often think of doing yet few rarely do. He wrote a letter to Marty’s management thanking him for his service. This letter binded the two of them in friendship, giving them further purpose to share in each other lives. V.J. learned more about Marty and started to speak about him during his speaking engagements. While Marty ended up receiving many accolades from his service, including being award Wal-Mart’s Hero award (1 in 100,000 sales associates would receive), one of the things he cherished most was the letter from V.J, reading it 70+ times!

    So while Marty is the hero in V.J.’s story, we can’t forget V.J. is also a hero. His big heart and willingness to show appreciation by writing the letter and the book to share with us one of those heroes in action. The question all of us can consider is how can we be more of a Marty or V.J. today? For more inspiration on how, click here.


    For more resources, see our Library topic Spirituality in the Workplace.


    Janae Bower is an inspirational speaker, award-winning author and training consultant. She founded Finding IT, a company that specializes in personal and professional development getting to the heart of what matters most. She started Project GratOtude, a movement to increase gratitude in people’s lives.