The Parable of the Carpenter

Our Words for the Week come from Michael Josephson of Character Counts.

A master carpenter who’d worked for the same builder for nearly 50 years announced he was retiring. The builder told him how much he appreciated his work and presented him with a $5,000 bonus. Then he asked if he would build just one more house. He owned a magnificent lot with a spectacular view and wanted to build a dream home there.

The carpenter was bitterly disappointed at the small bonus and extra project, but the building fee would help him buy a small cottage. He agreed to build the dream house.

He’d always prided himself on his uncompromising commitment to quality, but his resentment caused him to cut corners, ignore details, and accept shoddy workmanship from his workers. He even looked the other way when some of them substituted cheaper materials and pocketed the difference.

When the house was finished, the builder shook the carpenter’s hand and with a huge smile gave him a thank-you card. The carpenter was disdainful — until he saw inside the card the deed to the house he’d just built. The carpenter was ashamed to have misjudged his old friend and betrayed his own values, and he was remorseful the house he would now live in for the rest of his life had been made so carelessly.

Our character is the house we live in, and it’s built piece by piece by our daily choices. Deceit, irresponsibility, and disrespect are like shoddy workmanship. Whenever we put in less than our best and ignore our potential for excellence, we create a future full of creaky floors, leaky roofs, and crumbling foundations.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you character counts.

© 2011 Josephson Institute of Ethics. Michael Josephson, one of the nation’s leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information visit

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: If you don’t see a clear path for what you want, sometimes you have to make it for yourself. — Mindy Kaling


About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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2 Responses to The Parable of the Carpenter

  1. TamrahJo says:

    The minute I find myself in ‘resentment’ feelings, is the very same moment I start really questioning what it is, I am actually doing – big time – been in resentment phase here there and yonder on various facets, for many years, because, I kept showing up, giving my best, and in the end, slicing my own throat through good will and trying to ‘give before waiting to get’ – thanks for sharing this – I try to continue to show up, without wondering what I’ll ‘get out of the deal’ on my dealings with fellow man, but I needed to hear this, because I was nearly shoved into ‘lookout for numero uno’ on some fronts (work/volunteer operations) due to sadness on so many fronts, for so many years, and yet was having a hard time reconciling the advice, choices and all, within myself, and finding myself MORE resentful and angry that daily life was pushing me ever more towards being that I didn’t wish to be – – thanks for the “yet another example’ that speaks to my heart and strengthens my resolve to simply fall on the battle filed sacrificing myself or surviving while I follow my heart and conscience – i soo…needed….to hear this story, tonight – be reminded of it – –


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