As a small four -year- old child, I liked to visit my grandparents. They were both elderly and my grandmother had been blinded by diabetes for several years. Even so, she ever so loved her grandson. One morning after “the men” had finished hand milking their 18 cows, I watched as grandma strained (filtered/cleaned) the raw milk. Even though blind, she never spilled a drop which captivated my attention.
Grandma had sat me on the kitchen counter as she went about her task of straining the milk.  I must have been impressed with the milk cows and the large farm where my grandparents lived.  I remember asking her if she and granddad owned all the farmland and cattle. Even though I was only four- years- old, I have remembered, all of my life, her answer. She said that, no they didn’t own the land, as it belonged to God and she and granddad were just the “stewards.”  

Scientists tell us that the human brain absorbs more knowledge during the first two years of life than any other time during our entire life. As the above true story illustrates, even a small four –year- old child can learn important life lessons.  How much more do our children and grandchildren learn from us that we don’t intend for them to learn? Perhaps we should become more purposeful “teachers.”

As I have the privilege of providing “official visit” programs to District 6040 clubs, I often refer to my belief that we club members become, over time, like extended families. As Rotarians, we are called to a high standard of ethical behavior in our private and public dealings. Most clubs recite the 4-Way test at the conclusion of every weekly meeting.  Like it or not, non- club members, just like our children and grandchildren, can spot a “phony” or spot ethical behavior very quickly. We Rotarians are called to “walk the talk” of the 4-Way test! 

Sometimes when a young parent is asked to join a Rotary club, they claim that their lives are just too busy to add one more thing.  They are unwittingly teaching their children that service (to others) above self isn’t important. What a sad legacy. A much better lesson is for children to not only see their young parent involved in Rotary, but for that young Rotary parent to involve their child in community service.  Now that is learning that will benefit a child or grandchild for the rest of their life. How else will our children enjoy the “paycheck of the heart?”