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The Vulture and The Little Girl - Success vs Service!

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

The story behind this picture is heart-wrenching! In 1993 photographer Kevin Carter took a picture of an emaciated collapsed Sudanese girl on her way to the United Nations feeding center. The little girl was in such bad shape that a vulture (bird of prey) was probably waiting for her to die. This picture started a worldwide look into the conditions in which some people were living in, especially in African countries that lacked food and the government's assistance to help its people. It also sparked outrage when it was published in the New York Times in 1993. There was some blowback against the photographer Kevin Carter a thirty-two (32) year old man who earned a Pulitzer Prize for this photograph captioned "The Vulture and the Little Girl" and "Struggling Girl."

The photo itself is powerful, captivating, heart-wrenching, and yet raised a lot of questions about the person taking the photo. Is the photographer more interested in taking a picture of the plight of this young embattled young lady or was he interested at all in helping her to live? This young girl is in such dire straights, that a vulture is looking to make good of her emaciated dying carcass. This brought up tough ethical questions concerning Kevin Carter, the photographer said that he ran the bird away after taking the picture but a lot of people thought that he had not done enough to help this young lady live! I personally think he could have taken the picture and then helped the young lady to get the help she needed. With this being said, I would ask the question if I could to the photographer Kevin Carter;


'Are you more interested in having success in your life or more concerned with being of service in your life?


The reason I cannot ask this question to the photographer is simply that he committed suicide four (4) months after he received his Pulitzer Prize, which is considered a top honor for a photojournalist such as himself.

With all the success that Mr. Carter was having in his career, he still decided to take his own life. I do not know what the exact reasons are for him making this decision but what I do know is that success in itself is not enough to make you whole or have that fulfilled feeling in your life. I have seen over the years very successful people in the world make decisions to take their own lives for their own reasons. I am not judging their lives, they made their own call but what I do want to address is a way to live your life not for worldly success but in service to others.


Scripture tells us in: (Philippians 2:3 NLT) 'Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.'


This is a difficult concept for most as we have been taught that 'SUCCESS' is everything in this world. Having success in itself is not a bad thing but we must understand it is 'NOT' everything! The human condition to strive for things is deep-rooted within, the problem is that it only fulfills a temporary need and it is not self-sustaining. We get what we want and then immediately we want more, it is a vicious cycle that will never truly provide internal fulfillment.


You will not find fulfillment in success alone but you will find fulfillment in service to others!


The photographer received great success because of the photo he captured but he did not have it in him to help save this little girl in her time of need. Unfortunately, at that moment it can be said that success was more important than service. 99.9% of us have probably had a moment like this in our lives when we have chosen something else over helping (serving) someone in their time of need. We can find fulfillment in our lives in service to others and we still have personal success. I am not asking that we forsake personal success but that we understand personal success comes and goes with the wind.


Scripture tells us in: (Romans 14:19 NASB) '19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.'


Going forward, I would challenge you to look inside of your hearts and ask yourself, 'do I value personal success more than I value service to others? Am I helping people to be better, greater, stronger, or am I just doing it for me?'

I am not 100% sure of where this quote originated but I have learned to love it over time, and it goes something like this. "A life not lived in service to others is a life not lived at all." My Lord Jesus Christ, only lived His life in service to others, helping us to become greater so that we may be in service to others.

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May God’s Love Surround You Always!

Charles Myles


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