A FIRM HANDSHAKE Andy Hollifield 5-23-19
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” That’s just one of the things dad tried to drill into us. I remember dad would say when he told someone he would see them later or would do something or made plans to go somewhere, he always preceded it or followed what he said with the phrase; “if nothing happens”. He would sometimes say “Lord willing” or “Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise” (you would have to be country to understand). I never remember him making a commitment of any kind without always at some point saying one of those statements and it was usually; “if nothing happens.”
I finally ask him once “Dad, why do you always say that?” He looked at me and said, “Because you never know what might happen between now and then and you don’t want to tell somebody a lie.” Up till that point, to be honest it was kind of annoying. After he explained it, I caught myself saying one of those statements almost all the time.
That may all sound silly to a lot of folks but you have to understand that I grew up in a different time than what we are living in now. A man’s word was his bond and a firm handshake was as good as a contract. That was just how you dealt with people. You didn’t have to have everything in writing. I remember underpricing mowing jobs as a kid due to my inexperience, and making less than what it was actually worth because I had given someone my word. I worked for a lot of good people and usually they would pay extra because they realized I had underpriced it. If they didn’t, I took what we had shook on and went my way thankful that they had let me work and paid me what they had agreed to.
Dad taught us to be men of our word, and he wouldn’t tolerate anyone cheating us. I remember one Saturday morning I went to help my brother mow a yard that he did on regular basis in a wealthy neighborhood for a very wealthy widow woman. She had contracted with my brother to mow her yard for fourteen dollars. On this particular day I was wanting to go crow hunting or squirrel hunting I think with a couple buddies of ours.
Being fifteen, I couldn’t drive so if I wanted to go, I had to help him get that yard mowed. We went over early and he used her mower and I took ours. We were done in less than an hour. When it came time for my brother to be paid, she only paid him seven dollars. Although their deal had been that he would cut her grass for fourteen dollars, she felt that since he had help and she hadn’t hired me that he had only done half the work and shouldn’t be paid for the whole yard since he hadn’t done all of it. Keep in mind that it was a contract job and not hourly. The yard was supposed to pay fourteen dollars flat rate. My brother told her that she had a completed job and that he had a deal with me and he didn’t expect her to pay me. She refused to pay the full amount so we left.
After we got home and he told dad what had happened. After he calmed down he called her. He told her he would be mailing her check back to her and not to call either of us anymore to work for her. He explained that he had raised us not to cheat people and he didn’t expect us to be cheated and he certainly didn’t want my brother taking her money if she couldn’t afford to keep her word.
That may sound simple and maybe even silly, but I gained a lot more respect for my dad that day. I was pleased he got that worked up in defense of me and my brother. It gave me a sense of security knowing that my dad always had my back. To put it in plain English, I was plumb proud!
I am thankful that all that honesty was drilled into me and that I also had a good example lived out in front of me. My dad was a man that you could always “take it to the bank” if he told you something. If he didn’t follow through with something he told you, you knew something was wrong.
In Proverbs 22:1 the bible says that “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.” Ecclesiastes 7:1 says, “A good name is better than precious ointment;…” We were always taught a man’s word is his bond as I mentioned earlier. We were also taught to “guard your name cause it’s all you have.”
One more thing I remember being taught is “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” I try to retain those lessons of my youth and pass them on as I have opportunity. I am not even sure why I wrote this today. I guess I got to thinking about how careless we are with promises and commitments. It seems that everyone is always trying to avoid keeping their word rather than going out of their way to be honest.
We as Christians need to be especially mindful of this. We have a whole world of lost folks looking at our lives. If they don’t find honesty, integrity, and moral values in us; where are they going to find it? You can kill your own influence with people by failing to keep your word. Always keep your word. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!