Living On Purpose

LIVING ON PURPOSE: Rightly Diving the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15)
In 1744, Alexander Webster and Robert Wallace (both Presbyterian Clergymen in Scotland), decided to set up a life-insurance fund for the widows and orphans of dead clergymen. 

So they proposed that each church minister contribute a portion of their income into an investment fund, and if a minister died, his widow would receive dividends from the funds, thereby allowing her to live comfortably for the rest of her life.

But in order to determine how much can be paid-in to keep their obligations, these men had to be able to provide answers to the following questions:

  • how many ministers are likely to die each year?
  • how many widows and orphans are these ministers likely to leave behind?

  • and by how many years are the widows likely to outlive their husbands?


First, let us see what they did not do. They did not:

● hold prayer meetings, perhaps to ‘bind the demon of death’

● hold theological debates on poverty 

● embark on a research on the work of ancient theologians


  1. They contacted Colin Maclaurin (Professor of mathematics, University of Edinburgh)
  • They collected data on ages at which people died and used it to calculate how many ministers are likely to pass away in any given year

  • They applied recent breakthrough in statistics

  • Using mathematical modelling, they realised that:

    • on average there were 930 living Scots clergymen at any given moment
  • 27 ministers are likely to die each year,

  • 18 of them would be survived by a widow,

  • 5 of them who had no widow – would leave orphaned children,

  • 2 of those survived by widows would be outlived by children from previous marriages who had not yet reached the age of 16

  • And most importantly, how much time a widow is likely to draw dividends before passing away or remarrying.

    Dear friends, these were the early days of the investment instrument known today as SCOTTISH WIDOWS.

    Biblical reflection:
    – 1 Samuel 13:19-22

    • 2 Peter 1:3

    To a blessed week!

    By Clement Akran

    Thinker and communicator of ideas.

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