“Daddy! It’s not fair! It’s just not fair for you to take my money that I worked for!”
“Look, girl, the field is mine, the plants are mine, the fertilizer is mine, and you are mine! Pay me the forty percent.”
I was a daddy’s girl for sure. Wherever he went, I went. That might mean going with him to the small field beside our house or under the vehicles. I probably would have gone hunting with him if my mother had allowed it. Back in those days, I had more dirt and grime on me than perfume and hair bows, quite to my mother’s chagrin.
The Strawberry Patch
I was about twelve years old when my father decided to plant a strawberry patch. It was a challenge because strawberries grow best in sandy soil that we did not have. My father added sand and special fertilizers to the soil and did a bunch of soil cultivating with his tractor. Strawberry patches require frequent and tender pruning and de-weeding if you want to yield big, juicy fruit. I was appointed for that job, and it came with a fringe benefit that excited the mercenary part of me. I could sell the strawberries and make money. I was delighted!
The Little Business “Woman”
I turned out to be quite the little business “woman.” I sold strawberries by the pint to neighbors and local stores. Somehow I thought all that money was mine. After all, I did all the hard work in the hot sun, and I had made the sales. As I was counting my money, my father put out his hand, requesting forty percent of it. I was outraged! He gave me a long lecture about business and responsibility. It was going in one ear and out the other!
My father had growing concerns about me and my dealings with money. Ashamedly, I had become a loan shark to my siblings. I would save my money as I watched my siblings spend theirs. That put me in a position of being able to loan money to them at a large profit; many times the loan of a quarter would cost you another quarter. 100% profit! I actually got in trouble about that when my parents found out. I even had the audacity one time to loan my parents money, requesting interest. I can still feel the fire and threats from their piercing eyes. I let that loan and interest slide!
Don’t Profit at the Expense of Others
Back to the strawberry story…finally, my father (who was usually a mild-mannered man) had enough of me and my greed. Looking into my eyes, he firmly said words to me that stick with me fifty years later. “Look, girl, the field is mine, the plants are mine, the fertilizer is mine, and you are mine! Pay me the forty percent!” My father not only taught me basic business principles, but he also taught me these life lessons:
- I should not enjoy a profit at the expense of other people.
- I should not love money. It destroys people.
- I should have integrity in dealings with money.
Note the following application: Bargaining for the lowest deal at a yard sale is not always the loving thing to do to a private seller, especially when I can afford to pay more.
”Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so” (Proverbs 3:27).
The Bible has a lot to say about money. Here is a sampling:
- Matthew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
- 1 Timothy 6:10: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
- Ecclesiastes 5:10: “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income…”
- 1 Timothy 6:17-19: “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.”
I hope that this is a tribute to the fathers who loved their children enough to correct them. I dare not think of what my life would have been without parental correction. Thanks, Dad (and Mom)!