I was a rebellious son.  I’m not proud of that fact, but it is true. 

No, I never got into any “real” trouble.  I never did drugs, and I never broke into a house.  I didn’t even use bad language.  As a matter of fact, I went to church regularly and taught Bible classes.  But when you compare the way I behaved to what the Bible teaches, I came up woefully short.  Paul told Christians children to “obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  Honor your father and mother…” (Ephesians 6:1,2a)  That, my friends, was the problem.  I didn’t honor my folks.  To my adolescent mind, they were out-of-touch and basically too stupid to be taken seriously. 

Today, I’m 55 years old and both of my parents are with the Lord.  Yet, I respect both of them more now than ever. 

Occasionally, people still tell me how much like my dad I am.  And, grudgingly, I have to admit that they’re right.  I have many of his mannerisms and traits.  I tend to view the world much like he did.  I tend to react to criticism like my father did. The truth is, I’m mini-Dad!

Dad wasn’t perfect, but he was a good, godly man.  He always put our family first.  He never took the last piece of chicken at dinner.  He worked harder than most of my friends’ fathers and provided well for us.  He treated Mom like a queen.  For better or worse, he paid virtually all of my expenses.  He wrote the checks for all of my cloths into young adulthood.  He helped me buy my first cars, and ponied-up for the insurance.  He even covered the full tab for my college education.  Dad taught me about Jesus, and told me about his own walk with our Lord.

My dad was also a Penny-Picker-Upper.  When he saw a penny lying on the pavement, Dad always stopped and picked it up.  Frankly, I don’t know why.  Maybe he was trying to teach me a lesson.  Or, maybe he was simply trying to become a millionaire verrrrrry slowly.  But either way, it made an impression on me.  His example helped me learn the value of money and how tough it is to earn it.  Dad helped me understand the sin of wastefulness and bad stewardship. 

To this day, I’m a Penny-Picker-Upper.  The other night I stopped at a restaurant while in the Washington D.C. area doing a No Debt No Sweat! Seminar.  As I rushed to the car I saw a lone penny lying on the pavement.  “I’m too busy to waste my time picking that thing up,” I thought.  Then, dutifully, I walked back, bent down, and picked the penny up.

Financially speaking, that did not make good sense — especially these days.  (Actually, I’ve done a little calculation on what a professional, full-time Penny-Picker-Upper could earn.  Assuming he could pick up one penny every 4 seconds, working a full 40-hour week, he would earn $18,000 per year — hardly enough to live on.) 

So why do I do it?  There are probably several reasons.  But, I know what two of them are.  First, I feel somehow connected to my father through this little ritual.  It’s one way I have of honoring him and his legacy.  Second, it is a good discipline for me.  It helps me remember the value of money.  It keeps me from taking things for granted.  It reminds me that pennies turn into dollars.

As parents, Bonnie and I were fully committed to setting a good stewardship model for our brood.  There were times we felt under appreciated (to say the least), but it has paid off.  Today, we have four grown kids who are all financially smart and self-reliant.  May I share a few suggestions that you may find useful?