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The Parable of
When his name was announced, Joe stood up in the massive banquet hall and went up to the podium to give his retirement speech. His co-workers applauded him loudly. When he was presented with a gold pocket watch, his eyes began to well up with tears.
“The reason I’m standing before you here today”, he said, “is because of my little alarm clock.”
The audience quieted down to listen.
“Fifty years ago”, Joe explained, “I saw an advertisement in the window of a small store. The ad was simple; it read, ‘Help Wanted’. Those two words changed my life.
I was fifteen years old. My father had just died, and I was an only child. It was during the Great Depression, and jobs were scarce. That’s when this company was first starting out. Can you imagine it? Our huge corporation was once a tiny one-man business with a ‘Help Wanted’ sign on its storefront window. I knew there would be a swarm of applicants, most of whom were older, more experienced, and more educated than I. Yet I was determined to get that job. I went in for an interview, and found myself face to face with Mr. Sacks, who, as you know, was the original CEO and founder of our company. I’ll never forget his first words to me:
‘Young man,’ he said, ‘you don’t even look old enough to shave.’
That wasn’t exactly how I wanted the interview to start, yet I looked him squarely in the eye, undaunted.
‘What could you possibly have to offer my company?’ Mr. Sacks asked.
‘I have fifteen years experience,’ I replied. Mr. Sacks looked me over, surprised and speechless. I grabbed at my opportunity.
‘I have fifteen years experience in being honest and hard working,’ I explained. ‘Fifteen years experience in being on time. Fifteen years experience being responsible. Fifteen years experience being respectful of my elders. Fifteen years experience knowing that, to get what I want, I have to first get you what you want. And, I have fifteen years experience in having a cheerful, positive attitude.’
I was hired. But I found out later that so were a couple hundred other men. He hired practically everyone that applied! I knew that in order to move up in this growing corporation, I had to stand out. But how? As I thought it through, I decided there was one thing we all have in equal amounts. One thing that was even more valuable than money: TIME.
So, I made a decision to spend what little money I had on a small alarm clock. I went to work one hour earlier than anyone else, and I stayed one hour later than anyone else, without getting paid for it. I continued that practice for the next fifty years. That alone made me stand out. But I didn’t stop there; I volunteered to do things no one else wanted to do. There was no task too menial for me. I used my spare time in between assignments to sweep the floors and clean the windows. I didn’t let myself get involved with gossip, and I never said anything negative about anyone. I greeted everyone with a cheerful handshake and a smile. I don’t think my actual work was better than anyone else’s, but my positive attitude opened doors for me.
Now, here I stand before you good people, the vice-president of the company, without ever having even graduated from high school. I wish I still had that old alarm clock, but I’ll treasure this pocket watch as a reminder of the value of time.”
Joe began to leave the podium, but the president of the company caught him by the shoulder.
“We have one more little memento for you, Joe”, he said. He gave him a small, antique wind-up alarm clock. The audience rose to their feet and cheered.
THE DRAGNET (Matthew 13: 47-50)
“The kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the food into vessels, but threw the bad away. ”