No. 1047



It has been said that “maturity” is when you can sense your concern for others outweighing your concern for yourself. The other day I read a true story on Facebook that was humorous but sad at the same time.
The story goes that a family of five moved into the house next door to a woman of modest means who could barely pay her own bills. After a few days she noticed that the man of the house seldom went to work. A few weeks later, the power company came and shut off their electricity because of failure to pay their bill. They had become acquainted by this time and it was not long until the whole family began to come over and take a bath. Before she could say Johnny Appleseed, the woman of the house wanted to know if they could use an extension cord to plug into her electricity. Feeling sorry for the kids, she agreed to let the neighbors make the connection. She noticed that same week the husband only went to work one day.
Things were going along reasonably well, but then she saw them load up in their old car and go to the state fair and all the rides that had just come to town. This was more than she could stand and as she said, “I unplugged them.” She felt like, and rightly so, that if they had the money to go to the state fair they had the money to pay their electric bill. As I said in the beginning, this is a true story and I don’t know whether or not she let them plug it back in. However, I understand that at some point she did.
Now here is my question to you: Assuming you have some resources and less gall than these people, would you have unplugged them? My answer to this question is “no,” assuming that I had the money to pay my own electricity bill, but with a stern warning to the parents that this could only continue for a short time because there would be consequences. My reason is based on the simple fact that I don’t believe the kids should suffer because of their parents.
This story reminds me of something I heard Cavett Robert, a fellow speaker, say one time. He said when many people are born and their umbilical cord is cut. Then they spend the next 20 years trying to find a place to plug it back in. Now, I see a lot of opportunity here to talk about personal responsibility, and I bet you do, too. As parents, one of the best things we can ever do for our children is to teach them to be responsible for their actions and their behavior. You may rest assured, if we don’t teach them the world will later, and it will probably be a harsh lesson. This process should begin almost from the time the child is born, by not letting them have their way all the time, by teaching them to share, and later by having chores to do on a regular basis.
It is also very important to teach children the value of money and its source. To require them to save a portion of what they receive, either from doing chores or gifts, they will have money later to pay their own way. The father in my earlier true story is setting the worst possible example for his children, and unless someone else comes into their life and teaches them later on, their future will be very bleak. Without question, I see parents all the time who are ruining their children’s future, trying to win their love by giving them everything they want, without them learning value and having to earn anything.
As a result of what I have shared today, here is something I hope you will ponder. With reference to my true story from Facebook, to the way we conduct our own life, the best thing we can ever give another person is a good example. As the great doctor, author, missionary and musician Albert Schweitzer once said, “Example is not the main thing in life, it is the only thing.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE: THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY – Begin your day on a positive note – 365 days for $12. This will benefit the Bookcase for Every Child project. Go to to subscribe.)