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Millionaire Next Door
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I’m always on the lookout for life lessons and valuable examples to teach my children. Two lessons I've shared, were experiences I had in my younger days.

While attending university, I walked by an elderly gentleman. He wore a pair of well kept, yet obviously older, dress shoes and a well-worn gray suit.

Sometime later, while at the village market to purchase a few meager groceries, I waited in line behind an older, well-dressed lady. As the cashier rang up her items, she surprised me by sliding my groceries up with hers saying to the cashier, "I'll pay for these."

I quickly informed her, "No those are mine."

But she motioned for the cashier to ring them up with hers anyway; as I tried to argue that I would pay for my groceries, she smiled and said she'd take care of them for me. I thanked her immensely for the kind deed. After she walked away, the cashier informed me that she was the wife of the aforementioned older, plainly dressed gentleman — the founder of a large snack food company.

Another example I shared was about a couple who attended my church every week. They drove an average car; dressed neatly, but never overstated nor plain. Both wore kind smiling faces; he was quiet and friendly, and she more outgoing.

Paid Our Dues

My brother and I were in Pathfinders* at the time, as were this couple’s grandsons. My family was not well-to-do, and this couple had inquired of the pastor about my brother and I. I would later learn that our dues—not only ours but others'—were paid by the older couple. This duo were pioneers in the nutrition bar industry and for years produced many of the nutrition and diet bars for well-known companies and sold in many markets.

Television often paints an extravagant picture of how millionaires act and play. As a young child, my own impression of wealth was tainted by those TV images. Both of the above mentioned couples earned enough money to live the self-centered and tainted lives portrayed on television, but instead chose another path. Socrates once penned, "If a man is proud of his wealth, he should not be praised until it is known how he employs it."

These encounters would forever change that muddied impression I had of the well-to-do and reveal a better image. These large-hearted couples were positive role-models; they showed me examples of giving that I want to incorporate in my life--even if I'm not a millionaire.

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By Daniel LaFlair. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

*Pathfinders is a Christian Boys and Girls Club.

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