I Am Self Employed - Consider A Parable

I am self employed.  This means that I:

  • Work longer hours for myself than I would ever work for someone else.  MANY more hours.
  • Do very careful work.
  • Have to think about all aspects of my business and how each affects the others.
  • Wear more hats than I would working for someone else.
  • Do NOT get to set my "own hours" as so many who aren't self employed think I can.
  • Very, very much consider the client and the client's needs.
  • Do NOT get all the terrific tax write offs everyone thinks I get.  It ALL comes out of my pocket!
  • Am responsible for all the money and how and where it goes.
  • Always looking for ways to improve and offer a better product.

I could think of more, but I want to get to the parable.  Centuries ago, when I was a missionary in South America, we came up with many parables to teach the mountain Indigenous people, to whom I was called.  For them, Spanish was their second language, as it was mine.  They had to teach me their language - Quechua.  They came from a far different background than I and teaching them required creativity.  We all know who employed parables to great effect.  And we followed that Example.

A parable is a story, or poem, which is used to illustrate a moral or spiritual point, and reveal a hidden meaning.  It comes from the Latin word, parabola, which means comparison, discourse, or placing side-by-side.

We used lots of parables.  I published one in a different blog, seen to the left, entitled, "Building To Minimum Standards, Part 2."  Parables can be used in many different contexts!

When parables are employed, different people understand them on different levels and arrive at different interpretations.  One reason for this is background, but another is feeling.  Sometimes we simply feel the spirit of something and it touches us.

I am interested in what you see and understand and feel from this parable.  I will not comment afterward as this might stultify your expression or understanding.  If I tell you what I see, or feel, well, it might influence what you see or feel.  The rest now is left to you...

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THE PARABLE OF THE TWO TREES

There once were two trees who lived side by side. 

The one had a very comfortable life.  It lived in a greenhouse.  It was very well cared for by an elderly gardener.  The gardener knew just what to do to help the tree to grow and develop.  It was given plenty of water that included lots of nutrition.  It never wanted for water.  The temperatures in the greenhouse were controlled.  Windows were opened when it got too hot.  Heat was provided when it got too cold.  Shades were drawn when the sun grew too uncomfortable.  Its limbs were regularly pruned and it was beautiful.  It did not have to struggle for anything!  It lived in a pot and did not have to send down deep roots.  It never experienced strong winds so its limbs were weak.  Its bark was thin because it had plenty of water, had no enemies and was never too hot or cold.  The elderly gardener loved the tree.

The other tree's life was very hard.  It had to care for itself as there was no gardener to care for it.  It had to send down long roots to search for minerals and water.  That was sometimes hard to come by.  It experienced the very cold of winter and the very hot of summer.  Its limbs were never pruned and it had a somewhat disheveled appearance.  It developed bark that was necessarily thick and hard, needed to battle disease, insects and the elements.  All in all, it had learned to cope with all of that.  And it took care of itself, as best it could.  The tree was happy.

The two trees were close enough that when the windows were opened they could talk.  The tree in the greenhouse would often mock the other.  It would brag about its comfortable life and living conditions.

"Look at me!  My life is very easy.  I am well cared for.  I want for nothing.  My needs are all provided.  The gardener loves me.  I am happy.

And you - look at you!  I watch you struggle and strain for water.  I watch you fight against the heat and cold and strong winds.  You are besieged by insects and animals and birds.  You are never trimmed and some of your branches go this way and that way.  You never get a rest.  You should be in here where all is well!"

The other would answer.  "Yes, it is hard here.  Sometimes I envy you.  But it is not all so bad.  I have strong roots and a good foundation.  I send my limbs this way and that to get more light, and to protect against the strong winds.  True, my life is more difficult, but I am happy.  I am able to provide for myself."

Things went on like this for some time.  The one tree derided and scoffed and the other patiently went about insuring its survival.

Then, one day, the elderly gardener died.

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Comments

jay | Tue, 04/27/2010 - 12:16



All that we face in life is to give us experience, and in the end it is all good. We learn from the bitter and the sweet!

Your comments are very well put Bert. Thank you.

I am LDS and I served my mission experience in Ecuador. I am still in touch with many people there, after 35 years! It was a molding experience, to say the least. I treasure it.

Bert de Haan (not verified) | Tue, 04/20/2010 - 01:04

Very nice Jay.

We need testing in order to gain strength.
We may at times complain about difficulties in our lives but we have to realize that the troubles we experience don't come by chance but are sent our way so that through the testing of our faith we may gain endurance. If we were pampered like the greenhouse tree, we would doubt the presence and care of God the moment we experienced something unpleasant or difficult.

Bert de Haan

PS. When you were a missionary, by which Church denomination were you sent out?
Thanks.

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Jay performs inspections Monday through Saturday, throughout Northern Virginia, from his office in Bristow to Leesburg and Centreville, to Great Falls and Vienna and everywhere in between!