In 1914, Swedish priest Nathan Söderblom was third on a list of three candidates for archbishop of Uppsala: in effect, head of the Church of Sweden. Ahead of Söderblom stood two distinguished bishops.
Customarily, the king of Sweden chose the first name on the ballot. But in 1914, he chose Söderblom, the first time since 1670 that a bishop was not chosen.
Over the next 16 years, Söderblom reopened old churches and built new ones, revived the elaborate ecclesiastical rituals of the past and imbued the work of the church with evangelistic fervor.
He became best known, though, for directing the ecumenical movement of the 20th century, culminating in the Stockholm Conference in 1925, which brought together Anglican, Protestant and Orthodox Christians and laid the basis for a future ecumenical creed. In 1930, Söderblom won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Lesson: Got a lucky break? Take it.
— Adapted from Nathan Söderblom and the Study of Religion, Eric Sharpe, University of North Carolina Press.