Two neighbors were living side by side. One of them was a retired school teacher, and the other was a young computer programmer. The computer programmer loved technology and loved to study and acquire the latest gadgets. One Spring day, both men decided to plant a garden. They each planted beans, tomatoes, and corn. The retired teacher limited the amount of water he gave his plants and didn’t always give his full attention to them. The programmer on the other hand, gave his plants a lot of water and checked on his plants every afternoon.

The retired teacher’s plants were simple but looked good. The programmer’s plants were much fuller and greener. One night, there was a storm. Strong winds blew, bringing heavy rains. The next morning, both neighbors went out to inspect the damage to their gardens. The programmer saw that his plants were uprooted and totally destroyed. But the retired teacher’s plants were not damaged at all and were standing firm.

The programmer was surprised to see this, so he called over to the retired teacher and asked, “We both grew the same plants together. I actually looked after my plants better than you did yours and I even gave them more water. Still, my plants died in the storm, while yours didn’t. How is that possible?”

The retired teacher smiled and said, “You gave your plants more attention and water; but because of that, they didn’t need to work for it themselves.  You made it easy for them while I gave my plants an adequate amount of water and let their roots search for more. Because of that, their roots went deeper and that made their position stronger. That is why my plants survived.”

Consider your employees or your children, those God has given you responsibility to train. People, children, are like plants. If everything is given to them, they will not understand the hard work it takes to succeed in a job and in life. If you give people too much help, they will not learn to work hard themselves and respect those who do work hard. It is good to guide people, but let them work out solutions for themselves. It is okay if they make mistakes, for mistakes become their teacher, helping them to grow deeper roots. Train people how to walk, but let them follow their path.

The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher. Luke 6:40



PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.

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