Lessons from a Cracked Pot

23 03 2012

I’d like to share a story with you that I heard recently. It may be familiar to you, but I think it bears repeating…

Each morning, a servant would carry water to his master’s house from a nearby stream using two large clay pots, hung on opposite ends of a long pole. One of the pots was in perfect condition, but the other had a crack along its side that caused it to leak water. As a result, the cracked pot was only half full by the time the servant reached the house.

This went on for two years before the cracked pot finally gathered the courage to say something to the servant. Feeling embarrassed by what it perceived to be its shortcomings, the pot said, “I want to apologize to you.”

“Why?” asked the servant, confused by the pot’s sorrow.

“For two years, I’ve watched as my partner delivered a full pot of water to your servant’s home each day. Meanwhile, I’ve struggled to deliver just half my load because of this crack in my side. My flaws have caused you to deliver less water than you would have been able to otherwise, and I’m sorry for that.”

At this, the servant smiled. “As we’re walking back to the house today,” he said, “I want you to take a close look around you, particularly at the road.” So the pot did as the servant instructed and was astonished to see a plethora of flowers lining the path below him as they walked.

When they reached the house, the servant asked, “Did you see those flowers?”

“Yes,” the pot replied, “they’re beautiful.”

“Did you notice that they only appeared on your side of the road?” the servant continued. “That’s not a coincidence. You see, I’ve known about your crack all along. Two years ago, I planted seeds along your side of the path. Each day, as we make our way back from the stream, you water those flowers for me. As a result, I’ve been able to create beautiful centerpieces that bring joy to my master’s home. So, you see, what you consider a failure, I consider a great service to my master and his family.”

Like the pot in this story, many of us feel inadequate at times because of our own cracks and flaws. But finding ways to make the most of those imperfections (in ourselves and in those around us) can make our lives far richer and more rewarding.

So where can you plant seeds in your own life to bear flowers? And what can you do to encourage others around you who may be feeling less than adequate today?

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