Do It Right or Do It Again

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

I mowed my yard today. That’s not such a big deal because people do that every day. But as I mowed my yard today, I remembered an important lesson taught to me by my daddy when I was just a young boy.

When I was about 7 or 8 years old, my parents told me I had to get a job! They suggested that I take the 22 in. push mower we had and ask the neighbors if I could mow their yards. Mrs. Edla Edwards, Julia and Moody Howard, and Mr. John and Ms. Blanche Galloway agreed and they agreed to pay me the grand sum of $2 every time I mowed their yards. That was $6 a week if you are keeping count. I used that hard earned money to buy cardboard insoles to go inside my shoes for the winter. You see, I had to walk 4 miles, uphill — both ways, in blustery snow with my sister on my back in order to attend school. But that’s another story for another day.

I would mow the yard and as an 8-year-old boy, I would sometimes miss a streak or I wouldn’t cut close enough to a bush or some other such thing. Usually, my customers wouldn’t say anything — they realized it I was just 8 and just getting started in my grass cutting career. But I learned very quickly that my daddy didn’t overlook those minor infractions.

When he came home from work, he examined my work to make sure I had done a good job. And I didn’t have to do just a “good job,” I had to do it to satisfy my daddy’s standards. On a couple of occasions, my daddy came home and made me take my lawn mower and go back to the yard I had mowed and “do it right.” I must say he didn’t have to do that but a few times. It was embarrassing to have to go back over to the neighbor’s yard after I had already finished and after I had already been paid and after I had already put away the mower and changed my clothes and was playing in the yard.

“But Daddy, it’s not that big of a deal. Mrs. Edla didn’t seem to notice that I forgot to cut along the ditch bank. I’ll get it next week. She’s already paid me anyway.”

Here is where I learned the lesson. My daddy taught me that I could either do it right or I would have to do it over. You see, it didn’t matter that Mrs. Edla hadn’t caught my oversight. It didn’t matter that I said I would take care of it next week. It mattered that Stanley Vaughan’s son was going to do a good job EVERY TIME or he would come back and make it right.

I didn’t like learning that lesson way back then. But as I mowed my yard today, I smiled as I looked over my yard. I don’t like anybody else to cut my yard…I want to do it myself. The reason? I’m the only one who can cut my grass to the standard my daddy set for me. I do it right because I don’t want to do it over.

I smiled a little smile and thanked God today for a daddy and momma who taught me the lesson of integrity and honesty in everything you do. Wise old Solomon learned the same lesson I learned (maybe his daddy David was a stickler for detail too). Solomon said, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…” Whether it is mowing the yard, or serving in the church, or doing your job…do whatever you do right the first time so you don’t have to go back and do it again.