By pastor Neil Kenyon, Salem, IN.
I have been thinking about my dad (Geoffrey Kenyon) this morning.
The way we respond to the things we encounter, good or bad, big or small, sets an example for someone. Sometimes, it is the way we respond to the small things that make the biggest impression.
My dad was one who taught me and my sisters, not so much by what he said, but by what he did – the way he lived. He set the right example for us. I remember one of those lessons clearly and have written it below. I use it often in my preaching, it set such a lasting example and standard for me. I call this living parable from my dad, “the Value of a Dime.”
In the 1950s dad was pastoring Meadows First Church of God near Brownstown, Indiana. After service, one Spring day, on the way home to Fleenor Town (about 40 miles from the church) my sisters and I decided we were hungry and really needed a hot dog to wane off the hunger pains! So we badgered dad until he stopped at a roadside cafe. We walked in and sat at the first table near the door. When the waitress walked over, dad ordered a hot dog each for Patricia and myself, with water to drink. Mom and dad did not order anything for themselves, except water. I don’t remember if my younger sister, Beverly, got anything to eat or not, but suspect she also had something, but not a hot dog. We gobbled the hot dog down along with loads of ketchup and mustard. The buns were really fresh and today, every time I smell a hot dog on a fresh bun, I remember that one. It was a special day, but the real memory, and life lesson, was not in the hot dog.
When we were finished, the pretty waitress came over and gave dad the bill. I don’t remember how much it was, but I remember that dad was digging through his pockets and mom had emptied her purse – they were a dime short of having enough money! I knew then why they hadn’t ordered anything for themselves. Dad sent me to the car to search behind the seats. I did, but no money! Dad talked with the waitress and explained the situation. She was understanding and told him it was okay, she would take care of it, not to worry about it. Dad told her he appreciated it and that he would see that she got the dime back on his next trip through. I thought, a dime – that’s not very much – no need to worry about it. After all, the waitress will likely forget about it, so really no need for dad to stop by and pay it back. So, off we went and I forgot about the dime – until the next Sunday.
The next Sunday, on the way home, dad pulled into the same cafe. Oh boy, I thought, another hot dog – hope dad has enough money this time! But when we pulled into the parking lot and stopped, dad told us, “stay put, I’m just going in to give the waitress the dime I owe her.” I thought, Dad did stop like he said he would – he really did mean what he said- he didn’t forget – it was important! It was just a dime, but a valuable one in terms of the lesson I learned. The memory is as clear today as it was over sixty years ago. Today, the smell of a hot dog on a fresh bun brings back the memory and the value of that dime! Thank you, Dad.
He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. (Luke 16:10