A man took his two sons camping one gorgeous weekend in May. The boys’ names were Jeff and Joe. Jeff was 10-years-old and Joe was 7-years-old. The boys were different in personality as one would expect. Jeff was bigger than Joe, not just because he was older, but because he had a husky build while Joe was slight. Jeff always had to be prodded by his parents to do anything. Joe was ambitious, a self-starter.
The boys got along as well, as well as brothers can, but Jeff had a habit of taunting Joe, claiming to be stronger, faster, and better at video games. The father noticed this sibling rivalry and didn’t think too much of it. After all, it was a rite of brotherhood to challenge each other and competition was good for both of them.
The father decided that while Jeff was getting the best of Joe, Joe was the one becoming a stronger person from the interaction. Jeff had the ability but he didn’t really make the most of it. In his heart, the father knew that his younger son Joe was the more likely to succeed in the future. He thought he needed to do something to reward Joe and to teach Jeff a life lesson.
After setting up their tents and eating some breakfast bars, the father asked both boys to bring the biggest stone they could carry to the campsite, the biggest! He told them he had a surprise for them. They both went down to a rocky creek, full of boulders, big and small.
After a short time, Jeff came back huffing and puffing with a decent sized stone. He was proud of himself and his dad was impressed. They sat around their campsite and waited for Joe. A few minutes later, Joe came up the hill drenching wet with sweat and struggling. Joe also had another decent sized rock but it was noticeably smaller than Jeff’s.
“So what is the surprise?” asked Jeff, Joe still catching his breath. “What are we going to do with these big ol’ rocks?”
“Well”, said their father, “We are going to look at these rocks and see who actually got the biggest one.”
“It’s obvious dad. I got the biggest rock!” exclaimed Jeff.
“You sure did, Jeff.” his father said calmly.
Joe complained, “That’s not fair Dad. Jeff is bigger than me.”
“Hum, you’re right Joe.” said his father. “Jeff, you are almost twice as big as your brother, but his rock is not that much smaller.”
“I still won because my rock is bigger”, said Jeff.
His father, ready to explain said, “Jeff, even though you came back with the biggest rock, Joe gave more effort. Sometimes you can win because you have an advantage. That’s good but not near as satisfying as when you out-work someone. If you gave as much effort as your brother, your rock would have been much bigger than his. If you go by effort, Joe has the biggest rock by far.”
“But I didn’t know it was a contest,” said Jeff.
“Every day of your life is a contest,” said his father. “You will be competing for everything and without your best effort, even if you are talented, you will never reach your potential.”
At his point, Joe was beaming! He was proud to have been recognized by his dad. Jeff, on the other hand, was quietly thinking about what his dad had just told him.
You could say that the moral of this story is to always give your best effort if you really care about success. And that is true! But the real message of this story is this--This is what good dads do!
They observe, they help, they mentor, they correct, they teach, and they love.
The Power of Dadhood