The Parable Of the Broken Glasses – A Lesson In Stewardship


I wrote ‘Soul Keeping‘ because we are taught more about how to care for our cars than how to steward our souls. But you cannot have an impactful life with an impoverished soul.

John Ortberg

When I was in first grade, my parents took me to the eye doctor where the optometrist determined I needed to wear corrective lenses (the fancy name for glasses) to correct a problem with my eyes.

For four or five years, I wore brown, plastic-framed glasses.  I looked like Ralphie from A Christmas Story (if you need an image).

Like Ralphie, I often broke my glasses horsing around with my friends.  The eye doctor was used to fixing my glasses on a monthly basis.

Eventually, the glasses did their job, and I was able to stop wearing them.  In fact, my vision was better than 20/20 for the longest time.

I stopped visiting the eye doctor for several years, because my vision was excellent.

Then I turned 40.

A long overdue visit to the eye doctor indicated my need for reading glasses.

I picked up my first pair of reading glasses, and I’ve been able to get a new pair each year as my reading vision has changed slightly along the way.  I use the new pair as my primary reading glasses, and I use the older pairs as backup glasses.  I have two pairs on my nightstand, and I put one pair in the car.  It’s nice to have the coverage in case I need to read something with small print.

This brings me to my story – my parable.

According to Wikipedia,

A parable is a succinct, didactic story, in prose or verse, which illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. It differs from a fable in that fables employ animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature as characters, whereas parables have human characters. A parable is a type of analogy.

This week, events transpired in my life that caused me to take pause.  I broke one of my pairs of backup glasses.

Tuesday night, I was responsible for facilitating a Toastmasters Table Topics and Humorous Speech Contest for my Area.  I arrived early at the location of the contest, so I could set up and greet contestants and attendees.  As I was getting out of my car, I grabbed my spare set of glasses, and I must have put them on the roof of my car as I was getting other contest material out of my car.  Once I was in the contest location, I forgot about the glasses.

The contest went well.  The speakers did a fantastic job presenting to the contest audience.  The judging team selected winners wisely.  And the audience enjoyed the experience (from what I could tell).  After the contest, I cleaned up the room and packed up my contest materials.  I said goodbye to the last few lingering attendees, and I climbed in my car to begin the journey home.

100 yards after pulling out of the parking lot, I heard a loud thumping noise on the roof of my car, and I immediately realized the source of the sound.  My glasses had flown off the top of my car.  It was dark, but I decided to make several passes on the busy road to see if I might find my glasses.  Disappointingly, I could find the glasses, so I drove home with the thought of trying to find them in the morning on my way to work.

The next morning, I made a few more passes in the busy morning traffic, but I could see the glasses from my car.  Bummer!

At lunch time, I decided to make one last effort to find the glasses thinking they may have landed in the longer grass along the road.  I parked my car in a parking lot, and walked down the side of the road looking back and forth as I went.  Just when I was about to give up and head back to my car, I caught a glimpse of a familiar sight – the inside cover of my glasses case.  Half of it was laying on the side of the road blending into the grey of the road surface.  I walked a few more feet and found the other half of the case.  But where were my glasses?

As I began the journey back to my parked car, I found my glasses on the side of the road!  My excitement was soon replaced by sadness as I quickly discovered the lenses were missing, and the frames were smashed to smithereens.  It looked like my glasses took a ride in my garbage disposal.

I picked up the pieces and headed back to my car.  (A blog post was surely on the way.)

I’ve had a lot of thoughts since the incident with my glasses.

First, I’m a little frustrated with my carelessness.  I wish I had gone back out to my car when I realized I needed them for the contest.

Second, I’m a little disappointed in my opulence.  Where I serve in Guatemala, glasses like these are a treasured possession for those with failing eyes.  I could have brought the glasses with me on a trip to Guatemala to give to someone who really needs them.  Instead, I decided to have backups for my backups.  I want to be a good steward of my resources, and this means saving and spending appropriately.  And it means giving appropriately too.  I don’t want to be a hoarder of the resources God gives me.  I want to use the resources God gives me to help others and to honor Him.

My broken glasses remind me to hang on tightly to the things that matter, and they remind me to let go of the things that would be better served in the hands of others.

Are you hanging on too tightly to something?  What can you do TODAY to let go?  What does it mean to be a good steward?  Share your thoughts in the comments.