Many years ago I was assigned the tedious, but important, task of counting the offering for our church. We had no counting machine of any kind and had to carefully count every coin, bill, check, bank draft receipt, etc. It took several hours to count the Sunday morning offering, as we had to recount it several times before we got a confirmed, accurate total. We then had to fill out forms in triplicate, sign them, and lock the money and the forms in a safe which could only be opened by the church trustees. Finally, we got through the mountain of change and bills and locked the bag in the safe. As we were leaving the office, I looked down and saw a nickel lying on the floor. I reached down, picked it up, showed it to Mr. Paul who was the head of the counting committee, and started to put it in my pocket. Surely we were not going to go to the trouble of getting the safe open and filling out all of those forms again for a nickel!
Mr. Paul said, “Kenny, it’s only a nickel, but we have no choice but to put that nickel in the bag where it belongs. Being 99% honest isn’t close enough.”
Mr. Paul was not an educated man. He was a hard worker who had spent his life in manual labor jobs. Even though he knew I meant no harm, I mean it was only a nickel and I could have put it in the offering plate the next week, it wasn’t close enough for this down to earth gentleman.
He taught the young college graduate two valuable lessons:
- Honesty can’t be measured in degrees or percentages.
- One can learn life lessons in many different ways and from all kinds of folks.