Friday, May 28, 2010

Being a Good Investment

"He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much and he who is unrighteousness in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much."
Luke 16:10

When my son turned 16, we gave him our old car and my husband got a newer car for himself. It was probably the first large ticket item we had given him that required any regular upkeep and care. The car was certainly not a fancy car. It wasn't sporty. It was far from new. In fact, it had over 100,ooo miles on it! It most assuredly didn't make the grade as "cool"- it was the old family wagon! However, my son was content with it. He called it the "Honey Wagon," mainly to get a rise out of his mother and never complained about it not being as nice as the cars some other kids at school drove. I was proud of him for that! He was not pretentious that way.

Over a period of time, however, my husband and I began to notice that the wagon was beginning to look a bit "beat up." The hood had all sorts of dents in it, which I found out later was from allowing other boys to jump on it! Eventually, we noticed there was a huge scrape down the side too. (We found it when we happened to wonder why the car was parked in the opposite direction in the driveway from how it usually was!)

When questioned, my son was very forthcoming with the truth. He had made the bad decision to "goof around" in an empty parking lot (going a bit too fast by our observation of the damage) and had swiped a pole. He admitted his wrong doing when confronted and repented to us for "being stupid."

I wish I could say that was the last bit of damage that occurred, but by the middle of his senior year, the car had taken on a great deal more abuse. The front bumper was actually dragging on the ground at one point! Even then, he never asked us to fix the car. He and his friend went out and "took care of the problem" themselves. I still don't know for sure what they did with the bumper. I didn't want to know! I think it involved wire and Gorilla Glue!

It was certainly an interesting dilemma we had at that time. Naturally, we were extremely frustrated with how he was taking care of the car. In addition to that, it was beyond our comprehension how he was so totally content to live with a car that looked like his did!

One day, as his high school graduation was approaching, I was experiencing frustration again with his same attitude toward school and grades as he had shown with the car. With the costs of his freshman year in college right around the corner, it occurred to me that the "investment" he was asking us to make for him was similar. The car he was driving had cost us around $15,000, pretty much the same as 1 year of college. This gave me an idea.

I took him out to the driveway and shared with him how much we had originally paid for the car. I also shared with him that as his parents, we had given him the car to use because we wanted to bless him. I let him know how disappointed I was in the way he had taken care of the "gift" we had given him and explained that soon he was going to want us to bless him in a similar way by paying for his first year of college. I made the comparison in costs for him. Lastly, I suggested to him that as I considered the "risk" in making just such an investment again for his education, I take one look at his car in the driveway and think...BAD IDEA!
I now had his attention!

I realized during the conversation that followed, that my son had never seen his care for the car in the same way we did. He thought if it didn't bother him to have a "beat up" car, then there wasn't any problem with it. He never considered who really "owned" the car, nor did he consider how his treatment of the car made us feel.

From that day forward, I'm happy to say that my son has taken much better care of his car. It's still a mess on the inside, but that's another issue...We made a deal with him to fix the car somewhat (primarily that "glued" bumper) and from that point on, he made a more conscious effort to be more careful and take better care of what we had given him. He also just finished his first year in college and made good on that investment as well!

This whole experience was a wonderful example of how we can confuse "stewardship." Everything we have is a gift from God. He is making an investment in us. How will we take care of what he has entrusted to us? Being content with what we have doesn't make us a good steward. Remember the parable of the talents?

God wants us to take care of his things and use them in such a way that it glorifies Him. When we do that, He know he can trust us with even more. It's not how much we have but how we use what we have for Him!

How would our world change if every Christian sought to use all of their gifts from God in ways that glorified him. What if we looked to maximize His investment?

"Small things are small things, but faithfulness with a small thing is a big thing."
Hudson Taylor-


Edie said...

At first I was thinking that Gorilla Glue wasn't such a bad option. He might have used duct tape. :)

What a great lesson you taught your son Stacy. Sometimes we just need to have someone open our eyes to what we are doing.

Sharon Sloan - Joy In The Truth said...

Stacy -- I love this. Great lesson. He gives us life and breath and "everything else"....including cars. Thanks for the reminder that it ALL belongs to HIM! May we care for it as unto Him

Acts 17:25 - And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.