Way back in 2005 I read an SI.com article about football coach Dick Vermeil, and the article mentioned a story called, The Parable of the Carpenter. I’ve never found an official version of the story, but here’s a version I cobbled together from multiple sources, including that SI article:
One day an elderly carpenter decided it was time to retire. He had worked for the same employer all his life, and when he told the employer he wanted to retire soon, the carpenter was disappointed when the employer only gave him a small bonus. The employer also asked a favor: Would the carpenter build just one more home before he retired? He had a beautiful lot picked out, and wanted the carpenter to build a beautiful new home on the lot.
The carpenter had always prided himself on his work, but because his employer only gave him a small bonus as a retirement gift, he didn’t put his best effort into building the home. He used cheaper materials than he would normally allow, and accepted shoddy work from his co-workers, and from himself. The end product was well short of what he was capable of building.
When the carpenter finished the job the employer came to inspect the work. But rather than inspecting it, he handed the keys and deed to the home to the carpenter and said, “Congratulations! This home is my gift to you. Thank you for all of your hard work over the years.”