Book Title: The Real Home
Standing by the railway track, you may have seen a postmaster hang a mail bag on a projecting arm. It is to be caught by the overland mail train, soon due. You hear a distant whistle. The train thunders round a curve. An iron hook on the side of a car swings out. It snatches the mail bag. The train speeds on and is soon lost to view.
Such is opportunity. This is an age that invites to action. It is given to young men to choose what their future shall be. The boys of to-day will be the men of to-morrow. Their destiny depends on their choice while young.
The young men in academy or college are those who will soon sit at the business manager’s desk. They will be presidents of banks and colleges. They will sit in legislative halls and courts of justice. They will be our farmers and mechanics, our doctors, our secretaries and bookkeepers, our ministers and missionaries. They will be the husbands and fathers in the homes of the future. The welfare of the nation is wrapped up in them.
There is a clarion call for brave, clean, courageous, manly, Christian young men. The advice given them by Inspiration is, “Quit you like men, be strong.” It is no time for weaklings or cowards. On every hand doors of opportunity stand opened wide, inviting those who are able to enter.
A successful business man was asked, “In what respect are our young men deficient?” He replied “In their tendency to rely upon others.”
“What will correct this tendency?” was the next question.
“Difficulties,” was the ready answer.
But young men are inclined to shun difficulties, rather than to enter the world’s battlefield and wrest victories where they have not already been won.
In other words, manly young men are needed. Difficulties, obstacles, rebuffs, met and overcome in early life, give strength and fiber to the character. Ability is gained for later conflicts, and the youth learns to walk erect and alone. …
HOW WIN SUCCESS
It is pitiable to see a young man whining over his “bad luck,” excusing his failures because he has met difficulty and discouragement. If he will turn his face toward the sun, and his back to the shadows, he can look the world in the eye without flinching. Parents are to blame if they have not taught their sons to face, fight, and conquer trouble.
These words of wisdom were penned by Dr. J. L. Miller:
“Strength is the glory of manhood. Yet it is not easy to be strong – it is easier to be weak and to drift. It is easier for the boy in school not to work hard to get his lessons, but to let them go and then at the last depend on some other boy to help him through. It is easier, when something happens to make you irritable, just to fly into a temper and say bitter words, than it is to keep quiet and self-controlled. It is easier, when you are with other young people and they are about to do something that you know to be unworthy, just to go with them, than it is to say, ‘I cannot do this wickedness against God.’ It is easier to be weak than to be strong.”
Abraham Lincoln took as his motto: “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right; stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.”
It is in early manhood – yes, in boyhood – that true manliness and courage need cultivation. The boy who is helped and supported in every hardship is likely to be spineless and flabby in character. “The University of Hard Knocks” has taken many a weakling and made a man of him. The Bible has given us bright examples in Joseph, Samuel, Joshua, Moses, Daniel.
But, of all young men who ever lived on earth, the Man of Nazareth was the most perfect. Those who would reach the highest excellence will take Him as their pattern. From His earliest years until He lay in Joseph’s tomb, it could be said by all who knew Him, as it was said by the Roman governor who pronounced His death sentence, “I find no fault in Him.”
The manly young man will be a lifter, not a leaner. In every community, men are needed who will square their shoulders, and say, “Lean on me.”
WHAT TO DO WITH FAILURE
The real test of manhood is what one does with failure, how he conducts himself as a “down-and-outer.” Some begin to pity themselves and to blame everybody else. Nothing can be worse if one would make failure a steppingstone to success. Dr. Frank Crane says:
“Get angry with yourself, pat yourself on the back, commend yourself – praise, blame, love, or hate yourself – do anything to yourself, but don’t pity yourself….
“One who is sorry for himself is already half beaten.
“The self-pitying are abused. Nobody treats them right. People talk about them. Others are promoted over them. They get no proper thanks. They are unappreciated. Alas! Also Alack! And Woe is me! Exeunt omnes into the garden and eat worms.” …
HABITS GOOD AND BAD
The young man who would make life a success must look well to his habits. Already they have become part of his life. How will they affect his usefulness? Because of them, will he constantly grow weaker, or stronger?
Young man, cultivate the habit of good health. In the great World War, the whole country was shocked to learn that multitudes of young men who were called to service were physically unfit.
Much of this unfitness was caused by bad habits, by indulgence in vicious, immoral practices. Young men, clean up. Cleanse your mind. Count your bodies sacred. Like Joseph, when you meet temptation, say, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”
Flee from any practice that will soil the soul. Cultivate purity of thought and life even though you are tempted within, without. Unless you do this, you can never live a truly successful life. “Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”
Such habits as drinking, using tobacco in any form, playing games of chance, are always to be avoided.
Probably one of the first and most injurious of these soul-and-body destroying habits is that of using tobacco. When it becomes master of the lad, the outer line of defense is broken down, and the enemy is ready for assault on other lines. Indulgence in smoking cigarettes has ruined millions of boys and young men in soul and body.
Tobacco is the worst natural curse of modern civilization. – John Ruskin.
I feel a great interest in any effort to check the pernicious habit of tobacco using. It is not only a nuisance, but a moral and physical evil, and a shame to our boasted refinement and civilization. – John G. Whittier.
One of the most satisfactory habits a young man can form is to become a reader of good literature.
Lincoln was famed for his good memory, the very quality in such urgent demand to-day in every vocation. But his memory was acquired by careful, continuous, attentive reading. First he read what was worth while. At the age of fourteen he had mastered all the books he could lay hands on. In his reading, when he came to a passage that particularly impressed him, he would write it, and rewrite it, and repeat it, until it was fixed in his mind. This was the beginning of his career.
A boy was reading a thrilling novel. When he reached the middle of the book, he said to himself: “Now this will never do. I get too excited; I can’t study so well after it. I have work to do in real life. So here goes.” He threw the unfinished book into the river. That boy became the great German philosopher Fichte.
The sensible young man will find in good reading real pleasure; but he will be extremely careful in his choice of books. …
BE A GENTLEMANLY MAN
He who wishes to reach the top round of the ladder of life will find good manners a matter of “first aid.” He will cultivate good humor, and learn to smile. He may not be hailed as the conqueror of others, but he will be his own conqueror, the master of his moods and feelings. There are people who see nothing in a doughnut but a hole, and whose visage is dark enough to blot out a rainbow. Their ill nature is like a ball and chain on the ankle. It does not keep them from working, but they never get anywhere.
A man who makes people laugh can command a salary of a million dollars a year and does it; but the cheerful, sunny young man who whistles as he works, who smiles at criticism and defeat, who, when he falls, gets to his feet and goes on smiling – he is worth more than a million in any home.
Two boys answered an advertisement the other day, applying for a job in one of the big newspaper offices of the country. That is, the choice simmered down to the two; and the manager didn’t know which one to choose. Each was neat and bright, each seemed to have plenty of brains and to know who to use them; but finally the manager turned to them and said, solemnly, “I guess I’ll get you to work shoveling coal, and whichever gets the most done by noon will get the job!”
At this, one of the boys looked glum, as if shoveling coal didn’t appeal to him; but the other smiled all over his face, and replied: “All right, sir! Hard or soft coal?”
“You have it!” said the manager. “Take off your coat right now!”
When two boys are about equal in every way, the fellow that smiles is bound to get the job every time. There’s nothing like a smile to make the work fly; not a silly, meaningless grin, but an honest, cheerful smile that makes every one around you fell good. – S. E. Kiser, in “Boys’ World.”
BE FRIENDLY AND COURTEOUS
This is not difficult if a young man is with his special friends, or in the society he loves. To be obliging and respectful to those who are old and unattractive is a different problem. Mr. Schwab tells a story which illustrates this:
A certain clerk in a department store, with a small salary, had no present prospect of getting anything better. It was a gloomy day, and very few customers in the store. A number of the clerks were bunched together talking over games, and most of them did not notice an elderly woman who came into the store, wanting to be served. But this clerk saw her, and although one of the youngest in the crowd, he promptly left his companions and went to wait upon the lady.
She wanted to look at a number of articles, and he gave her the most careful and courteous attention. He politely answered all her questions and showed her all the good she wanted to see. The other boys kept on talking baseball and such matters and having a jolly time among themselves, but he was carefully and faithfully attending to business.
Not long afterward the same woman sent a request to the head of the store, asking that she might have the assistance of this young clerk in making her selection of a very large order of goods.
“We shall be very glad to accommodate you,” answered the head of the firm, “but this is one of the youngest and least experienced of all our clerks. May we not send you one of our older and more experience young men? He might be able to serve you more efficiently than the one for whom you have asked.”
“That my be very true,” answered the lady, “but I want the one who waited on me the other day.”
This woman was none other than Mrs. Andrew Carnegie, and she came to make a selection of good to be used in redecorating the famous Skibo Castle, which is known everywhere as the home of the Carnegies in Scotland.
Mr. Schwab says that this was the beginning of promotion for that boy. His employer found how valuable his thoughtfulness and courtesy were to him, and gave him better chances to use these qualities. – Selected.
A young man will be benefited by conferring with those of more experience than himself. Rehoboam, a youthful king of Israel, was unwilling to follow the counsel of older men. True, he asked their opinion; but what they said was displeasing, and then he held a conference with the younger men of his own age. They saw the affairs of government as he saw them. He and they decided to show the “old fogies” their mistake.
Result: The young king lost about ten twelfths of his kingdom.
“If I were twenty,” says Francis E. Clarke, of Christian Endeavor fame, “I would learn to confer. Some men never learn this art; and the older they grow the more self-opinionated and contradictory they become. They cannot sit down and reason out a thing with others. They can make a speech; they can bluster; they can overbear opposition; but a real conference they cannot abide. This is an art that must be learned when young. To give the other man a fair chance to state his views, to keep an open mind, to be humble enough to listen, are great virtues.”
SAVING AND GIVING
A young man will do well to learn to save part of his earnings. If he has the courage to wear his old suit when he has money in his pocket to buy a new one, if his mother or sister will darn his stockings and repair his other garments, if he is careful of his clothes, if he dispenses with tobacco, liquor, theaters, and luxuries, he will be able to save from his income, and not be left helpless and dependent if he loses his job or meets with misfortune. He may not be as popular as the free spenders, but he will have a satisfaction, an independence, which popularity cannot give.
A young man of the right kind will find pleasure in giving when once he has tasted its joy. If there is real necessity, work to undertake for others which costs, young men are the ones to lift their share of the burden. Giving is the way to learn how to give, and it is not a natural but an acquired accomplishment.
“Excuses are the patches with which we seek to repair the garment of failure.”
A straightforward young man will not deal with excuses. If he intends to do the right and fails, and if there is no good reason for failure, he will own that it was his fault, and will henceforth avoid making the same mistake, instead of blaming others.
True manliness will suggest that a strong young man who has been provided for from earliest childhood at great sacrifice on the part of his parents should turn about and inquire concerning the debt he owes for such provision and expense.
A boy can never know the cost of his rearing until he has children of his own; but when he reaches manhood’s estate, if he is the right sort, he will begin to consider how he can repay some of the care bestowed upon him. His demands will grow less, not greater. He will become the helper, the comforter, of the parents who have done so much for him.
Often the expense at school involves real sacrifice. A young man of good sense will seek to lighten the labors of the home toilers, as far as possible; will bear his own burdens, and plan to repay in kind those to whom he owes so much. While they are still with us, while they can be told of appreciation for their self-sacrificing labor, let parents hear unstinted praise and gratitude expressed both in words and in deeds. …
If you are absent from home, frequent, newsy letters will be comforting. Say something more than, “I am well and getting on famously.” Father and mother will appreciate knowing who your intimate friends are, what salary you receive, how much you are saving, what your expenses are, the difficulties you meet and the victories you gain. …
A young man had just completed his college course. Before leaving the institution, he wrote a letter to his mother. After her death, eighteen years later, this letter was found stained with tears and worn to shreds, having been read and reread, and prized as one of her most cherished possessions. This is the letter:
“My dear Mother:
“My college days are over. The other students have gone. The future is uncertain. The campus is still, and I have been thinking of you, with a heart too full to talk much, if I should see you, but I do want to write. I have been thinking how you must have felt when the last of us had gone and you were alone with the years of patience and anxiety in rearing a large family. What a life you have lived, so full of sorrow and sacrifice and suffering! You have given so much and have received so little! …
“But to-night, with the college days and the college friends gone, I can see how you have hovered over me all along the years. I remember one day, when I was so small that I wore the little red and white dress, that when barefooted I stepped on a piece of glass, and when the blood gushed I screamed. You had me in your arms in a minute, the blood from my foot running down on your apron. You soon had the gash cleaned and bound, and then you took me in your arms and pillowed my head on your breast, and rocked me to sleep and contentment.
“To-night I wish I were a child again, pillowed in the same warm nest, with your arms around me, and could hear the soft tones of the old familiar hymn, ‘There’s a land that is fairer than day,’ which you used to hum to us. …
‘And then the typhoid came, and we were all sick but you. The fever ran its course with each of us, and you, mother mine, did all the nursing for many months, except what the kind neighbors did to help; and when there was no more of us to feed upon, the fever left. But some of us had gone never to return, and the rest were poor and young. I should think that would have broken your spirit, if not your heart. But I can see now that sickness and death are not the worst things that can happen, and that the worst was yet to come. The days which tried your courage and faith were the days when we came to our teens and fell into temptation.
“It is a triumph to rear a boy to manhood with a healthy body. It is a greater triumph to rear one to manhood with a healthy soul. And when I look back over my life, I wonder how a boy without a mother to love him ever comes through to a manhood of honor. It seems to me that you have saved me a hundred times; and since I have been away from home, your faith and confidence in me, and your love for me, have gone with me all the way.
“Do you remember when I found the purse with six dollars in it, an how I wanted to keep it, because we needed the money so badly? But you said, ‘No, my son; we must find the owner. It does not belong to us.’
“For several weeks we failed to learn whose purse it was; and every day, I became more hopeful that we would never learn. But you would not let me spend the money. And the day we did find the owner was about the bitterest day of my youth, until I went with you to deliver it to the gentleman who had lost it, and then somehow my grief turned to joy.
“How wise you were to take me with you! In that hour, you taught me not to covet what might come into my possession by accident, and not to conceal and hold anything for myself which was not mine.
“Do you remember when Henry took me into his father’s cellar and gave me some wine? I was worried, because you had talked to us a great deal about the evil which liquor does in the world. I think you knew there was something on my mind. I tried to tell you that night before I went to bed, but couldn’t. I was afraid it would break your heart. I lay awake nearly all night, thinking; and next morning, after prayers, when you had prayed in your simple way that God would go that day with your boys and hold their hands and keep them from evil, I couldn’t stand it, and when we had started to school, I ran back and threw my arms around you and told you about the wine.
“O mother o’ mine! It must have been almost a death stroke. I could feel your body grow rigid, and then your arms closed about me and held me frantically, as if you feared I would be snatched away. For a long while, you said never a word, and we did not hear the ‘last bell’; but when I could look into your face, it was white and drawn and old, and all the soft lines were gone out of it, while your eyes were brimming with tears that dripped over the lashes and ran down your cheeks and fell upon your breast.
“Well, there was no school for me that day. Do you remember how we talked about life and what it means, and how necessary it is that a boy should be strong enough to withstand temptation; and before the others came home, you took me to the bedroom and we both prayed about it till we found peace? When we came out of the room with your arm around me, I knew then that nothing could ever tempt me to touch liquor of any kind again. …
“Mother o’ mine, at home in your own rocker, these an a thousand other things I have been thinking about; and to-night, with college days behind and life before, I want to tell you that now I can see what your life has been through the years of suffering and service and sacrifice.
“I want you to know that I know what a wonderful mother you are.
“And, mother, I love you. I love you, and shall love you always.”
After this letter had been written and posted, the young man felt ashamed that he had written in such a gushing manner; but is it not rather a cause for shame that more such letters are not written?
THE CHOICE OF FRIENDS
The sensible young man will guard his associations. From his acquaintances he will choose the best for intimate friends. Thousands of young men have gone wrong because they were led away by evil companions.
That was the difficulty with Samson, the strongest and yet one of the weakest men that ever lived. He loved sinful pleasure, therefore he associated with sinners. Chasing pleasure is like joy-riding in an automobile, - it is liable to end in disaster and death.
The friendship of David and Jonathan was different. It was pure and unselfish. Jonathan’s love for David was so sincere he preferred to have him honored above himself. He gave his friend the best he had. A true, unselfish friend is one of Heaven’s best gifts.
The young man who has younger brothers and sisters can do much to help them. If he treats them kindly, they will imitate his example. If he has met and conquered temptation, he can encourage them to choose right associations and to form good habits. His watchful eye will discover that which even the parents may not know; and if tactful and patient, he can exert a great influence for good.
One test of the true gentleman is his manner of treating his sister. If he fails as a brother, he would be likely to fail as a lover or as a husband. A loyal brother will guard his sister from vicious young men, for he knows them better than she, and it is his privilege to stand between her and harmful associations.
A true brother will not by his own life cause his sister to stumble, but will walk the path of safety beside her.
GROW NEW WOOD
Longfellow was once asked how he was able to keep so vigorous and write so beautifully as age advanced upon him. Calling attention to an apple tree, he said:
“I never saw prettier blossoms upon it than those which it now bears. The tree grows a little new wood every year, and I suppose it is out of the new wood that these blossoms come. Like the apple tree, I try to grow a little new wood every year.”
The answer is suggestive. The young men who would reach a high standard must grow. They are invited by that versatile writer, Amos R. Wells, to test themselves in different ways. The test he gives are worth trial:
“You should be able to walk ten miles with ease. Are you? The only way to find out is to try it – not all at once, but see if you can work up to it.
“You should be able to enter in conversation with a stranger of your own sex (under suitable circumstances), courteously, agreeable, and profitably. Are you? Try it.
“You should be able to entertain company at your own table so that all present will enjoy themselves. Are you? Try it.
“You should be able to read a volume of history, biography, essays, or poetry with as much real enjoyment as a novel. Are you? Try it.
“You should be able to listen to a sermon or lecture on a substantial subject and carry away the main points so that you can repeat them afterward. Are you? Try it.
“You should have grace enough to submit to insult or injustice patiently, put up with coarseness serenely, and answer anger with love. Have you? Try it.
“You should be able to read your Bible by the book instead of by the chapter or verse, and delight in the reading. Are you? Try it.
“You should be able to pray for at least fifteen minutes by the watch (Mechanical? – There is no other way of getting at the facts), and still have much left that you want to talk over with your heavenly Father. Are you? Try it.
“These all indicate fundamentals of the physical, social, mental, and spiritual life. Have you ever tested yourself in regard to them, strictly and honestly? If not, do it. I dare you!” …
“WHAT LACK I YET?”
Every wise-hearted young man pauses sometimes to look within, and ask himself this question: “What lack I yet?” There was one who saw the Christ in His ministry, and as he beheld His unselfish life, forgot self, forgot his wealth and standing, and ran after the humble Galilean Teacher, to learn how he could be His disciple.
“Good Master,” he said as he knelt before Him, “what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” While he did not suppose he was defective, yet he felt dissatisfied in the presence of One so pure and holy. Earnestly he questioned, “What lack I yet?”
Slowly came the answer: “One thing thou lackest.” “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me.”
Quickly the young ruler saw what was involved in the earthward side of this answer. Oh that he had looked heavenward and seen the royal robe and crown, and that his name might be chiseled in the glittering foundation of the New Jerusalem!
To many it seems too great a sacrifice to give all for Christ. While they desire heaven, yet the price is greater than they are willing to pay. Earthly prospects shut away the vision of eternal joy, eternal love, eternal riches, eternal life.
In the warfare with sin, men are willing to march on dress parade, but they refuse the discomforts, the hand-to-hand fighting. They will enlist if they may remain at home and enjoy its comforts. Yes, they will become Christians if they can have all of worldly pleasure and wealth they desire. “Really,” they say, “what is the use of talking about warfare with evil? Every man for himself!”
A man visiting the Agricultural Department in Washington, D. C., found the secretary approachable, willing to talk. He looked like neither a farmer nor a scientist, but he commanded an army of experts.
“Corncobs,” he said, “have long been a problem. Now we are extracting glue from them to the extent of forty-five per cent of their weight. Furfural, another extract, is useful in the dye industry and other manufactures. Acetate of lime is also a valuable by-product.”
Wonders have been accomplished by this department in growing cotton from seed obtained from the South Sea Islands and from Egypt, so that in Arizona alone, twenty million dollars a year is realized.
The department has experimented with straw, obtaining enough gas from twenty pounds to drive a motor car twenty miles. A method was devised for using almost worthless land in California, so that rice valued at twenty million dollars a year is reaped from this acreage.
Orange and lemon culls, of no use in the market, were studied. Results in 1920: one million five hundred thousand pounds of citric acid; five hundred thousand pounds citrate of lime; fifty thousand pounds of lemon oil. Twenty factories produced six million pounds of marmalades and jellies.
What about the people who are doing this saving work, and making valuable that which, but for them, would be waste?
One young man showed the secretary an offer to pay him three hundred twenty-five dollars a month more than he was getting from the government.
“What shall I do?” he inquired.
The secretary replied: “You must take it, because men must grasp their opportunities; on the other hand, you must not take it, because here you can render service to one hundred million people.”
He stayed with the department.
Another, a chemist, receives from the government five thousand dollars a year. He has had numerous offers of higher wages, the last being sixteen thousand dollars a year. He declined every one of these offers, in the interest of public service.
Young men, the world needs your talents, your money, your service. It need you. There are men, women, and children who need your help to exalt them from being comparable to cobs and culls and straw into noble, Christlike candidates for immortality.
Will you, then, seeing the need, the opportunity, turn away to a life of self-service and pleasure? Or will you be a loyal, faithful soldier and servant for your Lord and His government? He bids you, “Follow Me.”
Young men have a prominent part to act in God’s great plan for our world. There are problems to solve, burdens to bear, men and women to be saved. Like the youthful Isaiah, lay the need upon your own heart, saying, “Here am I; send me.”