Several weeks ago I stopped at one of my favorite stores, the Teays Valley Hardware Store, at Scott Depot, West Virginia. There is something about hardware stores that interests me.

The store is owned by Bill Perry and his two partners, Brad Bogle and Howard Gregory. In addition to getting superior products and excellent service with good prices you, can learn a lot of important things if you keep you eyes and ears open.

On my last visit there my attention became riveted on an unusual display of four bright yellow number two pencils. How can it be the most popular of all pencils and still be number two? The heading across the top of the frame read, "THERE ARE FOUR TYPES OF PEOPLE".

  1. Those who "ARE AVERAGE". There was a simple normal looking pencil with a sharp point and an eraser. It was just an ordinary looking pencil. The kind most people use.

    Thinking about success, Barry L. Callen wrote: "To succeed fully is beyond us, but to attempt less is unthinkable." Callen is right. We always give it our best shot.

  2. Those who "DON'T DO ANYTHING". It had no point and no eraser. It was for all those who are "big blahs" in life. They never attempt anything. All their potential sleeps life away. Nobody will ever know what they might have done. They are like a juiceless orange. Nothing but pulp. Henrietta Mears put it this way: "It isn't that we fail when we try, but that we fail to try." Keep trying to do something.

  3. Those who "MAKE NOTHING BUT MISTAKES". It had an eraser on both ends. No positive contributions to life. These people never get off the wrong track and on the right track. It is just one mistake after another.

    Our mistakes may bring us closer to success. Think of the hundreds of failures Thomas Edison had attempting to make a workable light bulb. Each failure brought him closer to success. Robert H. Schuller offers this encouragement: "Failure doesn't mean God has abandoned you . . . It does mean God has a better idea."

  4. Those who "NEVER MAKE MISTAKES". It was sharpened on both ends and had no eraser. A pencil for perfect people. Perfect in their own eyes. Their pencil is sharp on both ends, but those who use it never seem to get the point.

Speaking of those who are filled with pride, Billy Graham said, "Arrogance has its own built-in misery. The arrogant person may offend others but he hurts himself more." Malcolm Muggeridge, whom I once met, wrote: "What will finally destroy us is not communism nor facisim but man acting like God." He was right then and now. Pride precedes problems.

What kind of pencil do you have in your pocket, at your desk or by the phone? What kind of pencil do you use when writing your weekly check for the church, making out your monthly house and automobile payments, planning your yearly budget, or filing your annual tax returns?

The kind of pencils we use says a lot about what kind of person we really are. They give us small clues about our successes and failures in life, work habits, stress, depression, and self-centeredness.

The next time you visit the Teays Valley Hardware store be sure to ask the courteous and friendly people who work there to let you see that powerful pencil display. They will be delighted to let you look at the pencils that represent four types of people who make up most any community in the world.

Being perfect is not easy, but there is a pencil for all who are perfect. Perfection carries a big price tag. There is no great demand for pencils for perfect people. I've only heard of one person in all history who deserved one. He was not average, he was always going about doing good, never made any mistakes and being perfect had no need for a pencil of any kind. He didn't write on paper even though he did write a few words on the ground one day. He wrote the world's greatest volumes on minds and hearts. It is all in the record. It is written so you can read it for yourself. He had no need to write because so many others wrote about him.

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Copyright © 2002 Bill Ellis. All rights reserved.