137) Lessons From His Parents

By Randy Pausch,  The Last Lecture, © 2008,  pp. 24…169,170

    HOW TO KEEP THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE:  When I was studying for my PhD, I took something called “the theory qualifier,” which I can now definitively say was the second worst thing in my life after chemotherapy.  When I complained to my mother about how hard and awful the test was, she leaned over, patted me on the arm and said, “We know just how you feel, honey.  And remember, when your father was your age, he was fighting the Germans.”


     HUMILITY:  It’s been well-documented that there is a growing sense of entitlement among young people today.  I have certainly seen that in my classrooms.  So many graduating seniors have this notion that they should be hired because of their creative brilliance.  Too many are unhappy with the idea of starting at the bottom.  My advice has always been:  “You ought to be thrilled you got a job in the mailroom.  And when you get there, here’s what you do:  Be really great at sorting mail.”

    No one wants to hear someone say:  “I’m not good at sorting mail because the job is beneath me.”  No job should be beneath us.  And if you can’t (or won’t) sort mail, where is the proof that you can do anything?

    After our ETC students were hired by companies for internships or first jobs, we’d often ask the firms to give us feedback on how they were doing.  Their bosses almost never had anything negative to say about their abilities.  But when we did get negative feedback, it was almost always about how the new employees were too big for their britches.  Or that they were already eyeing the corner offices.

    When I was fifteen, I worked at an orchard hoeing strawberries, and most of my coworkers were day laborers.  A couple of teachers worked there, too, earning a little extra cash for the summer.  I made a comment to my dad about the job being beneath those teachers.  (I guess I was implying that the job was beneath me, too.)  My dad gave me the tongue-lashing of a lifetime.  He believed manual labor was beneath no one.  He said he’d prefer that I worked hard and became the best ditch-digger in the world rather than coasting along as a self-impressed elitist behind a desk.  I went back into that strawberry field and I still didn’t like the job.  But I had heard my dad’s words.  I watched my attitude and I hoed a little harder.


Romans 12:3 — For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:  Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.  

Romans 12:16 — Live in harmony with one another.  Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.

Colossians 3:23-24 — Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Colossians 3:17 — And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.   


A MEALTIME PRAYER by Walter Rauschenbusch:  Our Father, you are the final source of all our comforts and to you we render our thanks for this food.  But we also remember in gratitude the many men and women whose labor was necessary to produce it, and who gathered it from the land and from the sea for our sustenance.  Grant that they too may enjoy the fruit of their labor without want, and may, together with us, be in a fellowship of thankful hearts.  Amen.