Of Pencils and Blades of Grass

Luke 16:10

He that is faithful in that which is least
is faithful also in much:
and he that is unjust in the least
is unjust also in much.

Some years back, a friend told me that when he was a child, he picked a blade of grass from his neighbour’s lawn.  His father made him go and apologise to the neighbour.

Many people would laugh at this.  Some at first glance might consider it cruel, and would say that it was embarrassing a child for no good reason.  But there’s a side to this that not everyone would consider.

I’ve had 30 years of friendship with that “little boy”, through university studies, student pranks, theological debates, best man in his wedding (as he was in mine), and now years as colleagues working together.  I’ve not always agreed with him on the finer points of theology, software design, and a host of other things, but in all of those 30 years, I’ve never had reason to doubt his integrity.

Someone, somewhere, somehow, instilled in my friend the principle that, if something isn’t yours, it simply isn’t yours and you don’t take it.  Maybe if that silly little blade of grass was part of that training, it wasn’t quite as ridiculous as some people think it was.

It is always the little things that add up to character, the small things that create in us habits of integrity that will stand us in good stead when the crisis comes, when we need to “instinctively” do the right thing.

I was telling my wife about this excellent article on counting pencils (HT: News for Christians) which I read recently, and she reminded me of our friend’s story of the blade of grass.  The article tells how, for one man’s father, counting pencils was a matter of integrity, and the author had this to say:

My dad understands where character is forged. It is in the so-called little decisions away from the public eye.

What kind of person are you going to be?  The answer to that question may be determined in large part by whether you “count your pencils” or not, whether you respect the ownership of even the little things that don’t belong to you.

*Your small actions (especially in private) form your habits.*

*Your mental approach to small decisions forms a mindset.*

*Habits and mindsets form your character.*

*Your character drives your response in a crisis.*

*Your response in a crisis reveals much of who you really are.*

About Jon Gleason

Former Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
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