Keep the Light Burning
There is an old story about a lighthouse keeper who worked on a rocky stretch of coastline. Once a month he would receive a new supply of oil to keep the light burning so that ships could safely sail near the rocky coast. One night, though, a woman from a nearby village came and begged him for some oil to keep her family warm. Another time a father asked for some to use in his lamp. Another man needed to lubricate a wheel. Since all the requests seemed legitimate, the lighthouse keeper tried to please everyone and grant the requests of all. Toward the end of the month, he noticed his supply of oil was dangerously low. Soon it was gone, and one night the lighthouse went out. As a result, that evening several ships were wrecked and countless lives were lost. When the authorities investigated, the man was very apologetic. He told them he was just trying to be helpful with the oil. Their reply to his excuses, however, was simple and to the point: “You were given oil for one purpose, and one purpose only — to keep that light burning!”
Who would have ever thought there would be stories like this — that by trying to do the right thing, the wrong thing is actually done. The lesson is simple: begin with the end in mind. It may require you saying no. Remember that no is a complete sentence. It may mean that people are hurt, or disappointed in you. Your purpose is not to keep the lights of others burning if yours is extinguished.