More than ten years ago, I was in an in-service meeting and heard one of the most powerful quotes I’ve ever come across. It made me think a bit about who I was as a man, what defined success, and who I was trying to please in this world. Enough talk from me. Here it is:
The Measure of a Man
"The place to take the true measure of a man is not in the darkest place or in the amen corner, not the cornfield, but by his own fireside. There he lays aside his mask and you may learn whether he is an imp or an angel, cur or king, hero or humbug. I care not what the world says of him: whether it crowns him boss or pelts him with bad eggs. I care not a copper what his reputation or religion may be: if his babies dread his homecoming and his better half swallows her heart every time she has to ask him for a five-dollar bill, his is a fraud of the first water, even though he prays night and morning until he is black in the face.... But if his children rush to the front door to meet him and love's sunshine illuminates the face of his wife every time she hears his footfall, you can take it for granted that he is pure, for his home is a heaven... I can forgive much in that fellow mortal who would rather make men swear than women weep; who would rather have the gate of the whole world than the contempt of his wife; who would rather call anger to the eyes of a king than fear to the face of a child."
--H. Burke Peterson Oct. 1982 from Elbert Hubbard's Scrapbook
A couple weeks ago, as my wife and I were talking about the coming new year, she mentioned the thought, “A home like Heaven in 2011.” I’ve been considering this idea quite a bit and one idea comes to my mind on how we can get there. Invest.
You hear people talking about investing themselves in their careers or at school. What exactly does it mean to invest yourself at school or career? At school, an invested person wouldn’t just be putting in enough to get a passing grade. They would strive for the “A” so they find future success and reach their education goals. They want their efforts to payoff. Likewise a person investing in their career isn’t doing just enough to not get fired. They are doing all the extra efforts to be promoted or receive that bonus.
How about at home? Are we investing ourselves at home? Are we giving more than the bare minimum? A person that is invested at home isn’t satisfied in doing just the bare minimum. They aren’t content with a family that is hardly holding together. The invested person is putting in the effort that is beyond what is expected. In investing themselves they look at how they can bless the life of their spouse and each family member individually. Admitting your wrong, being quick to forgive, a kind note, a compliment, or surprise. They look for ways to spend quality time together. And the payoffs at home are even greater, and are far more eternal.
Growing up, one of my best friends was Robert Thomas. As a teenager, I’m sorry to admit that I was generally looking for excuses to lose the family and spend time with friends. It became apparent that is was the opposite with Robert. He enjoyed being with his family more than us. And that was annoying to the rest of us friends.
Soon we were on missions and Robert went to Spain. While on his mission, Roberts father was diagnosed with cancer and before Robert returned, his father had passed away.
Do you think he regretted all the time he invested with his family? Do you think he looks back and regrets not spending more time with his friends? I don’t think so. He invested in what matters most. Eternal things.