A Modern Parable
A MODERN PARABLE
Andy's parents were honest, hard working people but times were bad and their business was doing poorly; so poorly that they couldn't pay back the bank loan.
“Wait here in the lobby while we go upstairs and talk to the loan agents,” Andy's dad said. "We may be a while so work on your homework. Afterward well see the sights in the city."
The lobby was big and had many chairs to sit in; Andy sat down in one next to a low table. He enjoyed watching the people around him, and said hello to those close by and smiled at others across the room. He opened his backpack and brought out his homework textbooks, Andy was proud of his grades.
Beyond the glass entry door an old man with a cane struggled up the steps. Without a thought Andy went out and gently helped the old man, saying, “Here, sir, let me hold your arm. Let me get the door. Watch the step.” Slowly the man was helped inside and across the lobby. As Andy returned to the chair he picked up some litter and put it in the trash can by the security desk.
A crowd of people came off of the elevators and nosily ambled through the lobby. With alarm Andy saw a binder on the floor as they left. Leaping from the chair he scooped up the binder and ran to the door where he called out while waiving the binder until a lady came to claim it.
Back at his seat he found a wallet with large green bills poking out of the fold, it lay on the little table next to his textbook. Andy looked at it in amazement; it was not there a minute ago. Andy wondered where it came from. Picking it up he looked around but now the lobby was empty except for the security guard at the desk writing a report in a book.
Going to the Guard he asked, “Did you see someone by the chair where I was sitting? They lost this wallet.”
“No, I didn't, but I think I know who it belongs to. I will put it in the safe until I find the owner.”
The window cleaner entered the lobby with his buckets and poles. Andy saw that the man had no room to work, so he got up and moved things out of the man's way. Andy sat down to finish his homework and struggled with a particularly difficult math problem.
“Hello.” Said a voice.
Looking up He and saw an elderly man in a nice suit standing before him.
“Good morning," said Andy, "How are you?”
“Just fine," replied the gentleman. "I've been watching you. You have been busy.”
“Oh, well, I'm just waiting for my parents. They are at a meeting and then we will see some of the city before we go home.”
“And I see you are working on your homework?”
“Yes, but I am stuck on this problem.”
“Math is one of my specialties may I look at it?”
“Sure, I would be glad to have help.” Andy showed the problem to the elderly man. “But I have to learn it on my own. You know, that is just right way.”
“You are very wise to have that attitude. You know I watched you helping the window washer. That was thoughtful.”
“Oh, thank you sir. It is just the Golden Rule. You know, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
“And I saw you pick up some litter and put it in the trash.”
“Well, it is just the thing a good citizen does. Oh, did you louse a wallet with some money in it.”
“No, I didn't. Did you find one?”
"Yes the security guard has it.”
“I'm sure it will get into the right hands. I saw you greeting people and being friendly,” Said the elderly man.
“We should be friendly, it is respectful, and honors God their Creator.”
“Young man,” the elderly man was using a new tone of voice and sounded less friendly and more serious. “I put the paper on the floor, I asked the window washer to wash those windows, and I invited the old man to come though I knew he would not be able to open the door while holding a cane. I dropped the wallet and I hired those people to drop the binder.”
Now Andy was becoming concerned. He wondered if he was in trouble.
The elderly man continued. “I own a business and I have an open position that I need to fill. I don’t want to waste my time sorting through all the greedy, ambitious, people who will do anything to get ahead that will apply. So I set up a test in this lobby. I sat in the corner watching people and any one could have done the thoughtful righteous things you did, but no one did, just you. So, would you like an honest position in my company? It could be part time since you have to finish school.”
“What is the job?” Andy asked. “What is the company? And who are you.”
“The position is a good one, it is hard but you will have no problem doing it.”
“I should talk to my parents first. If they say it is ok, then sure.”
“Good,” Said the elderly man in a kindly cheerful voice. “Here, take my card; show it to your parents. They will know what to do. You can start Monday.” And the elderly gentleman got up, shook his hand and walked out the lobby door.
“Son who was that.” his parents walked up.
“Here is his card, Dad.” Andy held the card up for his father to take. His father's mouth opened and his eyes grew big.
“What is it honey?” Andy's mom leaned over to see. “Oh my!”
“Andy do you know who that was?” Dad looked intent.
“Bernard R. St. John. He is the owner of this bank and a bunch of other business as well. He is one of the richest men in the country. What did he want?”
Andy explained what happened while they were away. He finished saying, “He wanted me to work for him Dad. Part time of course, since I'm still in school.”
“Well, sure you can.”
Next Monday. Andy took a bus to the bank office. A little nervous he walked through the doors. The receptionist glanced at him casually, “May I help you?” she said in a lazy voice as if she didn’t care to be bothered by a kid selling magazine subscriptions.
“I'm Andy, Mr. St. John told me to come to work here. I’m starting today.”
She looked up suddenly, her eyes big. “You're Mr. Andy? You are the one starting today? Oh.” She picked up a phone receiver hit a button and said, “Mr. St John. Mr. Andy is here.” She paused. “Yes.” She put the receiver down. “Take the elevator to the top floor. They are waiting for you.”
Andy had summer jobs before but this looked like nothing he expected. As he road the smooth ride on the elevator he wondered who “they” were that were waiting for him. The elevator doors opened into a large room with a big meeting table in the center and a crowd of business people standing in groups around it. They turned to look at him in silence.
“May we help you?” said a man in a grey suit.
“I was told to come to this room. I am starting work today. Mr. St. John arranged it.”
“OK. Just wait a minute Mr. St. John is coming shortly.” A man in a black suit said.
“I think this young fellow wanted to go to human resources on the third floor. Just take the elevator to the third floor and go right.” A Woman said.
Another man stepped up. “You better get going. We were about to have a very important meeting with Mr. St. John and his new Co-Chief Operating Partner.”
Just then the elevator opened and Mr. St. John walked in. He went around the room shaking hands. After a moment one said. “Where is the new Co-Chief Operating Partner? We were looking forward to meeting our new boss.”
“But you already have.” Mr. St. John walked to the head of the table and stood. “Please, everybody sit down. Mr. Andy, please bring that chair and set it next to this one.”
Andy felt good to have something to do, this was more like it. He lifted the chair from the corner and placed it next to the one Mr. St. John indicated. He looked at Mr. St. John, smiled and took a step back to give Mr. St. John room to do his job. Mr. St. John sat down.
“Andy, have a seat.” Mr. St. John indicated the chair. “Gentlemen, my last business partner proved to be dishonest, untrustworthy, and to deeply lack character. Since I have companies in dozens of countries, in many industries, employing thousands of workers; and since these companies are worth many billions of dollars I feel I need a partner. I prepared a test, a test of character. I ran this test for weeks in the lobby of our bank. Only one person passed the test, and that one person is my new partner. You will follow his instructions as if they were mine. He has the same authority to hire, fire, open factories, develop products, buy and sell and every other thing that I do to guide and grow our many enterprises; he will be my equal in every way. What I earn He will earn, and we will split evenly all bonuses, and pay. That person is...” Mr. St. John paused and put his hand on Andy's shoulder, “Is Mr. Andy. He is young but that is not a problem, indeed it is an advantage in many ways.”
“Me?” Andy gave a start and stared at Mr. St. John. “No way. I thought you said you had a position for me.”
“Yes, the position of Co-Chief Operating Partner.”
“But I am not qualified.”
“You only need one thing to be qualified for this position; your qualification is my choice of you.”
Mr. St. John kept his word, and Andy was indeed his equal partner. Andy brought fresh ideas and honest integrity to the many business activities they undertook and together they did much good for many people.
This is a far fetched tale since it is so unlikely that a multimillionaire will make an untried youth his equal partner but something far greater has happened many times over; the King of the universe has redeemed sinners and made them his partner and heir. For when we come to Jesus we become partners with God in His work here on the earth. "We sent Timothy to you, who is our brother and God's fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ." 1st Thessalonians 3:2: "God's fellow worker" in other words a partner.
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