Thanks, Mr. Scott
Updated: Apr 7, 2020
GC was a recently divorced woman with three kids. The oldest child was twelve and the youngest was two. The family was literally scraping by on charity because GC never learned to follow a budget. Money burned a hole in her pocket. She was a good person, but this problem with holding on to money meant bill collectors were constantly at her door… literally.
It’s very tough for children to have to watch a finance company come in and carry off their TV because payments were overdue, but that’s the kind of situation we’re talking about. And that’s nothing compared to them carrying off the couch. Now they have no place to sit to NOT WATCH the repossessed TV.
After the third or fourth time GC appealed to her church for grocery vouchers and help paying the bills, one of the staff members asked if she was willing to meet with a local banker and get some financial counseling. The banker, Mr. Scott, was willing to donate his time to help GC create a budget and learn how to permanently get out of debt.
A day and time were set for GC to go to Mr. Scott's office at the bank to talk about getting permanently out of debt. Unfortunately, either because of a misunderstanding or just not paying attention, the meeting didn’t get off to a very good start. Mr. Scott had no idea that GC was bringing her three kids to the meeting with her.
The two younger kids were being loud and running all around this very dignified man’s office. The older one was yelling at them to shut up and hitting them. It was a complete fiasco. And GC was saying, “So, are you going to help me or not?” Then she threw out a number regarding how much money she thought it would take her to once and for all get out of debt.
What happened next was like a bomb going off in that office. The banker stood up and, in a voice that meant business, told all three kids to sit down and be quiet. Then he cut to the chase and told GC her problem wasn’t a lack of money. It was a lack of discipline in her spending.
He actually offered to lend her a portion of the money she was asking for, but on three conditions: 1. She had to attend budgeting classes offered by the bank. 2. She had to be accountable for every penny that went into or out of her household for one year. And 3. She had to agree that she’d follow the biblical directive to tithe the first 10 percent of money she received so she could enjoy God’s blessings on her finances.
GC stood up and starting crying and yelling and accusing Mr. Scott of being just one more man trying to run her life. GC hadn’t had a good relationship with her father or her now-ex-husband. All that rage and fury was unleashed on Mr. Scott, who was only trying to help her.
It was such a crazy scene and GC was so upset that the two younger kids started crying. Then the older kid started yelling again at the younger kids and telling his mom to stop making a scene in the banker’s office. Then the banker’s secretary came in to see what was going on, followed by a security guard and some other bank employees. It was a nightmare.
GC and her menagerie were escorted out of the bank as all the bank customers stared at this woman, crying and yelling and accusing Mr. Scott of misleading her. She thought he was going to help her, but instead all he did was try to run her life and RUIN her life, she screamed.
Mr. Scott must have been horribly embarrassed. He was called all sorts of names, when all he was trying to do was help an impoverished woman and her three rowdy kids. Out in the parking lot, sitting in their old, beat up car, the woman became more and more upset, crying and yelling and going through a thousand Kleenex. “I’m tired off people trying to run my life. Why won’t they just help me? Stop trying to run my life!”
Sitting in the back seat and wanting to die of embarrassment was the 12-year-old. He gazed out across that parking lot at all the nice cars. He looked back up at the bank’s many windows and thought about Mr. Scott’s beautiful office, his expensive-looking suit, and the perfect way his tie was tied.
This 12-year-old was no saint. In fact, he was a very troubled little kid who could stir up his own firestorm of misbehavior. But, as he looked across that parking lot, he could clearly see two roads. One was the road of success and blessing. The other was the road this family was already on, hitting one chug hole of financial crisis after another.
As that 12-year-old boy thought about the two paths that were laid out before him that day, something clicked in his head. He thought about all the successful people he’d met… his fifth grade teacher, Mr. Mac. The nice seminary professor named Dr. McBeth who invited him and his little brother over to his house for dinner from time to time… And now, this banker, Mr. Scott.
They weren’t having to dodge bill collectors or watching their furniture and TV set repossessed. They weren’t getting Christmas presents from the Salvation Army and clothes from the Goodwill.
No doubt, Mr. Scott thought he’d just completely wasted his time. And what did he get for it? Embarrassed, yelled at, and called every name in the book. He might well have thought to himself, “Well, I’ll never make that mistake again.”
But Mr. Scott wasn’t wasting his time. The impression Mr. Scott made on my life, as that 12-year-old boy, was one that has affected me to this very day. Every time Caryl and I have the privilege of helping a family, I’m always looking around at those kids standing off to the side and thinking, “I wonder which one of these kids is going to be the one that takes this example and runs with it, learning to be a success because they’ve learned the open secrets of Proverbs 11:25: “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”
Mr. Scott, thank you! Thank you, thank you. Your efforts weren’t wasted. No, my mom never did choose to follow your advice, and it haunted her for her entire life. But your efforts weren’t wasted. I’m so very grateful for your words and your example. Someone was listening. Someone was watching. It was me.