|The Berger boys; that's me on the right, holding my BB gun right-side-up.|
I’ve shared this story before, but when I was a kid, my dad would sometimes leave my brother and I with jobs to do during the summertime. One day, he told us to dig a trench at the end of the garden in our backyard. The garden area sloped toward the house, and Dad didn’t want water from the garden trickling down to the house. So Bill and I decided to start in the middle and dig in opposite directions. This way, we wouldn’t kill each other. My philosophy on this sort of task was very simple: The objective was to get finished as quickly as possible so that I could move on to the stuff I really wanted to do. So there I was, digging as fast as I could. My brother, on the other hand, was moving very slowly. He was using two shovels, a big one to scoop out the dirt, and a flat-bladed one to make the sides of his trench nice and uniform. He was being extremely precise, making sure the trench stayed perfectly straight. I began to tease my brother. “Don’t you see how much time you’re wasting? It doesn’t have to look pretty, it just has to catch water.” Soon, I was done, but my brother worked quite a while longer in the hot sun. Meanwhile, I sat in the AC and laughed about how hard he was working. When my dad got home, he saw an interesting-looking trench. One side looked more like it was the result of random seismic activity than human effort. The other side looked like it was designed by a civil engineer…and in fact, my brother is an architect today. Then—and anyone who has ever had a little brother will understand how painful this was—he shocked me by praising my brother and reprimanding me for my sloppy work. He said something to me that I’ve never forgotten: The work we do, even if we don’t think it’s important, tells the world what kind of person we are. When I did a sloppy job on that task my dad had given me, I was telling him and the whole world, “I don’t care about this. I just want to do the minimum required to be done.” For years into my adulthood, that trench was still there, a silent reminder that I should do everything I do to the glory of God.