This story is based on an old story that may be very familiar to you. It has been altered a bit but it is still well within the spirit of the original story. It fits very well with the ideas behind the materials for Find Your Purpose, Love your Life that I am working on at the moment.
Once upon a time there was a father who had two sons. He was preparing them both to carry out tasks within his business. He had been a good father and looked at each son’s ability and talents so he knew what they were good at and what sort of tasks would satisfy them and keep them fulfilled.
The younger son rebelled. I am not going to work in your business dad. I am going to take all that you have taught me. All the systems and procedures I have developed in your business. All the contacts I have made. I am taking them all and I am going off to do my own thing.
He left his father’s business behind. He set up his own business. His skills and contacts were ever so useful. However, there came a time when his contacts stopped being so friendly. They stopped wanting to work with him. You do not do business in a way that demonstrates integrity. You go around with those fly by nights, those people who are only half a step away from being thieves. The more he dealt with these sort of people the worse a reputation his business gained and he started struggling.
Then the recession hit. He was already on dodgy ground. Orders dried up. Sales plummeted. The business failed and he became bankrupt. In order to repay his debts he got a job processing pig skin. This job was even more smelly and unappealing than tanning leather and that was bad enough. It was the worst job imaginable but he had to do something to pay off the debts and buy food to eat.
The resulting problems
He was doing a job that he hated and that was nothing like the life that his father had prepared him for. He knew he could have had the joy of fulfilling the purpose the father had prepared him for, but there he was stuck in an unhappy and uncomfortable position. He was barely recognisable as the person who had started out with so much potential.
The recession hit harder and as sales declined so did the overtime. The atmosphere in the processing area became worse as people got frightened. They did not know what to do. It looked as if their jobs would disappear and then how would they pay the bills. He dreaded going to work.
He did not like working with these people. They were so unlike the people who worked for his father. They did not have the reassurance that they were cared for and were competing like mad to make themselves look indispensable so that they would keep their job. Their fear led them to do things that he knew his father’s workers did not need to do. They were so stressed that some of them were taken ill and that was the last anyone saw of them.
The turning point
At this point the younger son came to his senses. He said I know what I will do. I will go back to my dad and ask him for a job. It does not have to be anything fancy. It does not need to be the role that he was preparing me for. All I want is a job that will bring me enough income to buy enough food to eat.
I cannot expect too much as I have made it so much harder for my father to build his business. There are things that dad wanted to do but that he could not do because I was not there to do them. Not only that but he will have trained other people to fill in the gap that me not being around will have left.
The son’s return
This is where it gets interesting. The father was looking out of his office window. He had developed a habit of doing this ever since his son left. He knew his son was likely to get into difficulties on his own and he wanted him to return before he got into too much of a mess.
Then wonder of wonders there was his son. The son was emaciated as he had struggled to find enough food. He was tired from his journey. He was dirty. The father ran down the stairs screaming orders at his staff as he went. He got to the front door just in time to see his son turn the corner and head for the back door. He chased after him saying “No son, that is the wrong door. Come with me we will go through the front door together.”
The staff had responded to their orders and put together a hastily arranged celebration. All the stuff they kept for best and hardly ever used came out. The father said to the son put this robe over your dirty clothes. We will deal with them later but for now I want you to look good enough to be my son. Not only that but here is the jewelery you used to wear that showed you have the authority to act in my name.
The younger son argued and said I do not deserve this. The Father said shush let me have the pleasure of welcoming you home in the way I have longed to do for many years.
The elder brother’s response and the future
The older son came in at this point. He was angry. Dad what have I done to deserve this treatment. I have been overlooked. I have faithfully served you in the business for years and I have not as much as received a long service award. I have followed your advice since I was a child and here I am serving you in the role I was purposed to do. The father said you will get your reward in due course. This business will not last for ever. I am waiting for a trumpet call that says the world as we know will not exist any longer. When that happens you will be rewarded. Until then please rejoice with me.
Your brother has a lot of healing and recovering to do that you don’t. He has consequences to deal with that you don’t. He has to deal with the loss of his reputation and the debts that he has built up. I will help him but there are some things that cannot be changed. No one can turn the clock back and stop things from happening. He will carry the consequences of what he has done and that will not be easy for him. Come on son lets give your brother a hand. He might not realise it yet but he has quite a challenge ahead of him. I want him to know that he knows that he knows that he has all the love and support he needs for the restoration process.
The younger son became a celebrity. You see he told everyone who would listen just how good his father was and how much he had been helped despite everything that had happened. He was able to fulfill his role in the business. The gap that others had tried to fill in but had struggled to do was filled with the right person at last.