I read an editorial yesterday in an old book that was a collection of editorials by Bruce Barton. It was so apropos to Christmas day and to business that I wanted to take the time to post it here for you.
Until I read his little book, I hadn’t heard of Barton and had to look him up. Wikipedia has a nice summary that explains he was an author, advertising exec and politician. He was a U.S. Congressman from 1937 to 1940. And he created the character of “Betty Crocker.” But, that’s not what this post is about. I encourage you to read more about the man at Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Fairchild_Barton) — and while you’re there, perhaps you’ll be in a kind enough holiday spirit to contribute to Wikipedia’s annual fund drive.
The name of the editorial is “No Room in the Inn.” And, yes, it makes reference to the original Christmas story. It is, however, a very cleaver weaving of that story into a business story.
by Bruce Barton
Did you ever stop to think of the tragedy of the little hotel at Bethlehem in Palestine — the “inn”?
The parents of Jesus of Nazareth knocked at its doors, and could not come in. It might have sheltered the greatest event in the history of the world — and it lost the chance.
Why? Why was Jesus of Nazareth born in a stable? Because the people at the inn were vicious or hostile? Not at all. But the inn was full — every room was occupied by people who had money to pay and so must be served — it was full of Business.
There was “no room in the inn.”
I know men whose lives are like that inn.
“Arnold’s heart is broken,” said one man to another recently; “his son is a failure and a fool.”
What can you expect?” the other answered. “Arnold has not given his boy a minute’s time for ten years.”
Arnold thinks he is a good father: he has often told his friends that he is working night and day in Business for his wife and boy.
As a matter of fact, his Business is working him. There is no room in his life for anything else. And his son is a fool.
“You had quite a taste for literature when you left college, didn’t you?” I asked another man.
“Oh, yes, ” he answered sadly; “but I had to give all that up. A man can’t be in Business and find room for anything else.”
“I hear Simpson’s wife has left him,” I heard a third man say; and his companion replied:
“She got tired of spending her evenings alone, probably. You know, Simpson always says Business comes first.”
In a little village church-yard in England there is this inscription:
“Here lies Peter Bacon, born a man and died a grocer.”
Take care that it be not written over you, “Born a man and died a Business man.” Make good; but do not sacrifice in making good, the gifts of life that are best.
Take care to have time for something besides Business — for your family, for good books, for an occasional hours when you merely walk under the stars and think.
For in Bethlehem, two thousand years ago, there stood a little inn. And behold, it was so full of Business that the greatest event in the world knocked at its doors and could not come in.
Now you may wonder what impact this story had on my behavior, since I’m obviously posting it on a major holiday, which is also my birthday. But you have to remember that sharing something you’ve enjoyed with others, even if it serves the purpose of your work, sometimes counts as a pleasure. Not to mention that I usually get up two hours earlier than anyone else in my household just to be able to do whatever I want to do, without any disturbance to anyone, including me.