The CEO was growing old. Choosing a replacement would not come from the directors or present staff. He would find one in the young executives.
He called them together and gave each one a seed. His instructions were simple. “Plant it, water it, tend to it and come back in one year and I will then judge the plants you bring and from them choose the new CEO.
The seed in Jim’s pot never broke the soil. It just didn’t grow! Others bragged and talked about how beautiful their plants were and how they were looking forward to being the top man in the firm.
A year went by and all the young executives brought their plants to display before the CEO. Jim told his wife that he was not going to take the empty pot to the meeting. She begged him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick at his stomach. It was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right.
When Jim arrived he was amazed at the variety of plants displayed by the other executives. They were beautiful in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed and a few felt sorry for him.
When the CEO arrived he surveyed the room and greeted the young executives. Jim just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown,” said the CEO. Today, one of you will be appointed the new CEO. All of the sudden the President spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He instructed the financial director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. One look at him and he would know I am a failure. Maybe he will have me demoted or fired!”
When Jim got to the front the CEO asked him what happened to his seed. Jim told the story. The CEO asked everyone to sit down, except Jim. He looked at Jim and then announced to the young executives, “Behold your next Chief Executive. His name is Jim. Jim couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t even grow his seed. The others mumbled how could he be the next CEO for he has failed to produce anything?
Then the Chief said, “One year ago today I gave each one of you a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seed; They were dead. It was not possible for any of them to grow. All of you except Jim have brought me plants and beautiful flowers. But when you found that the seed would not grow you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me an empty pot with my seed in it. He is the one I have chosen to be the new Chief Executive.”
The apostle Paul wrote, “But they who will be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish and hurtful lusts . . . for the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (I Timothy 6:9-10).
I watched the little kids playing on the beach. They were building their castles in the sand. You get amused at how meticulous and careful they are with crumbly corners and tiny turrets. The look on their faces as they screw their mouths around and stick out their tongues in earnest concentration are priceless.
Then the big wave starts to close in! But the kids don’t panic. They do the strangest thing. They jump to their feet, scream with excitement and watch the waves wash away their creations. There is no hysteria. No sadness. No bitterness. Even little children know the fate that awaits sandcastles. They are neither shocked nor angry when the tide comes in.
Children know that their creations in the sand are but brief joys destined to be taken away by the incoming tide. So they don’t fret as the waves approach. The waves strikes – no tears are shed. Joy and triumph in the fact that they have built their own castles in the sand.
Ann and I were passengers on the last voyage of the QUEEN ELIZABETH . As we left the harbor of New York City, and the coasts of America faded away, we felt the sadness of the going and yet the thrill of the journey. Loved ones were waving goodbye only to tell us of those loved ones waiting on the other side. Death is not the end of our spirit, it is only a transition.
The Lord taught this parable about the builder “Those who hear my sayings and refuse to do them is like a foolish man that built his house upon the sand . . . The rain descended, the floods came and the wind blew and beat upon that house, and it fell and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24-27).
“I am the resurrection and the life.. . .And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).