WHAT AN EXAMPLE
I am thinking this morning of the well-publicized University Scandal. That it is a disgrace, most people agree. Yet, I cannot help but wonder about the children involved. Did they know about the deception? Were they party to the dishonest deals? Then I am tempted to think, “Oh well, they are children of well-heeled parents, spoiled, privileged kids, who have been given everything their heart ever desired. So, why not four years of partying at Stanford or Yale?”
However, I must consider the hurt and embarrassment these young men and women may be suffering. Their parents may pay fines, and some may spend time in prison, but the kids now have a black mark on their reputation, and their chances for a quality education in a fine institution, if that is what they really looked forward to, are damaged, perhaps beyond fixing. What a wonderful example their parents have set for them! If you don’t qualify for it—if you don’t want to work for it, just steal it!
I am the first and only one in my immediate family to graduate from college earning an advanced degree. My brother Lincoln was Full Professor at Florida State University, not because of his college education—World War II deprived him of that, but because of his many years of experience and diligent work in the World of Opera. My brother Paul was a wonderful pastor for more than sixty years, but not because of his college education, for there was no money for such a thing. He studied as long as he could, working as much as possible, but never able to finish. He was self-taught digging in and working hard becoming one of the best preachers in the country, but without a degree.
Our parents were God fearing, hard working, and intelligent people with little formal education. My Mom graduated eighth grade, but my father, who was needed on the farm, only had three years of schooling.
Three things were important to my Daddy—hard work, honesty, and his faith. It wasn’t so much that my parents disdained higher education they just couldn’t pay for it.
When I decided I was going to college, my parents didn’t discourage me, but I knew I would have to make it happen. So, after high school, while my classmates went off to college, I went to work. I worked in a factory for a year making pajamas for SEARS. I was guaranteed seventy-five cents per hour, but I was fast, so I doubled my earnings, $60.00 a week.
Sewing pockets on pajamas for an entire year was boring, believe me, but I was determined to get to “Southwestern,” one of our church colleges in Waxahachie, Texas. I gave my Mom and Dad $15.00 a week to help pay bills, and I saved almost every nickel of the rest of my income. Wow, a $1,000.00—my savings for the year! Though it wouldn’t get you around the corner in today’s economy, it was a good chunk of money in 1955.
Early in September that year, I packed my footlocker, boarded a Grey Hound Bus, and made my way to Waxahachie. I subsidized my $1,000.00 by working part-time on campus first in the laundry and then in the Choir Director’s Office. My savings almost got me through two years of college. Today, at that same school, tuition and living expenses on campus is close to $35,000.00 per year. Even that doesn’t compare to Harvard’s costs.
At the end of my second year, I was in debt to the college for $200.00. I couldn’t go back until that debt was paid. Try as I might, I couldn’t find a summer job. My heart was broken. I wanted so much to return. Mama knew my sorrow. One morning she disappeared for a couple of hours. When she returned, she put her arms around me, and, with tears in her voice, said, “Pack your suitcase. You are going back to school.” After a good cry, I did just that.
Mama had been to the bank and based on her good name only, she borrowed $200.00 to get me back to school. She paid it back by hard, sometimes backbreaking work, but she never regretted her sacrifice.
My Master’s Degree Certificate hangs on the wall above the desk where I am now writing. I am grateful for a good education. I am grateful that it wasn’t handed to me on a silver platter, nor was it stolen.
Honestly, I don’t know if I would entrust a child of mine to one of these prestigious universities that have become more like a four-year summer camp, where courses meant for those living in fairytale land are offered. Courses such as “The Amazing World of Bubbles,” “The Unbearable Whiteness of Barbie,” “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame,” “Pattern Making for Dog Garments,” “The Joy of Garbage,” “What if Harry Potter is Real?,” and many more such ridiculous offerings.
I have discovered that you don’t have to go to Princeton or Brown to receive a good education. You can go to a small college in a Podunk town, where qualified professors care about students mentoring and encouraging them to rise to their highest potential. That’s the kind of undergraduate education I was exposed to.
Yes, I am thankful. I’m thankful for the example my parents set for me. From them, I learned hard work, sacrifice, and honest living. They gave me everything I needed and more. I would not be where I am today were it not for their exemplary, sacrificial life.
In 2 Corinthians chapter 9, the Apostle Paul commends the cheerful giver. In verse 10, he says, “Now may he who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness.”
In 1955, my Mama sowed $200.00 into the soil of my life. Her seed multiplied. It grew into more than forty wonderful years of active, full-time ministry, and it still multiplies today, through my Bible teaching.
I AM THANKFUL FOR THE EXAMPLE OF HONEST, HARD WORKING, GODLY PARENTS.
Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!