In a busy world, always hurling us forward, there is so much to be learned through the memories and stories of how our own families walked through life in the past.
It was in 1927, after completing just two years of high school, that my grandfather put his education on hold to take a job, turning most of his paycheck each week over to his mother to help support his eight younger siblings. He found work at the gas and electric company in the city where I still live today, and he would remain there for 40 years. At the end of his career he was superintendent of the gas department. Only three men in the whole company had positions above the man who had been hired as a water boy. That first job was to carry a bucket of cold water and a shared cup to the workmen on the roads, offering a refreshing drink as they worked. My grandfather understood the value of hard work and keeping the course. He knew nothing worth having would come quickly, or without sacrifice.
Moving slowly with an end in mind can be challenging! The world my grandparents lived in is long gone. And life will only continue to gain in pace as we move forward. But the bible has a warning about being hasty in your decisions and impatient in your course:
Steady plodding brings prosperity; hasty speculation brings poverty. Proverbs 21:5
Over 50 years after my grandfather passed away, my sister was visiting his grave site when an elderly man approach her, asking if she was a relative. She replied that yes, she was a granddaughter. The man went on to tell her that our grandfather had hired him at the gas company decades ago, and how he had been a boss who cared about his employees’ lives. He said how much the relationship had meant to him as a young employee and as he was walking away, he turned to say that because of our grandfather’s influence, he had begun to go to church. Our influence always outlives us.
I think of all the options my grandfather had. He could have stayed in school and pursued his own goals instead of taking a very humble position of handing out cups of water to hot, tired crewmen. But he took that little job, and he stayed on as he received a high school diploma and later an engineering degree from a Michigan University. When he passed away suddenly while still working at the only company he had ever known, the funeral procession was blocks long. So many came to pay their respects to a man who had a high position, and a humble heart.
When you have a goal, when God gives you a dream to pursue, be a steady plodder. The bible promises that you will prosper. It may not come in the form of earthly wealth—it didn’t for my grandparents. But be assured it will come through your influence in the lives of others, and that’s worth so much more.