I know my reaction to my brother’s homecoming today probably seems a little cold. He’s been gone for months, shows up halfway dead, and I crash his welcome home party.
Let me assure you, there is more to the story.
I’ve always been the hard worker in our family business – excuse me, let me clarify. I’ve always been the one who did the work – period. I showed up early, stayed late, and did whatever my dad asked. My brother, on the other hand, partied until morning, slept until noon, and if he did show up to work, he was useless.
My dad is mostly to blame for it though. He enabled my brother by letting him stick around without making him earn his keep. In fact, several months ago, when my brother demanded his share of the family estate, dad cut him a check, and then – get this – he actually cried when my brother left.
I lost almost all respect for my dad that day – and whatever respect remained, I lost today when my brother came home.
You should have seen dad when my brother showed up looking like a homeless beggar.
Dad ran down the driveway like a lovesick schoolgirl to meet my low-life brother, who only returned because he ran out of money to waste. At least my brother had the good sense to offer to work for minimum wage, but no – dad wouldn’t have it. Dad told him he was a part of our family, and he was going to be treated like a member of the family.
What that means is it’s just a matter of time before dad lets him blow the family fortune – again. And let’s not forget why we even have a family fortune – it’s because I’ve been working my tail off to keep things going around here while dad sat on the front porch daydreaming about my no-good brother coming home.
Like any rational human being, I was infuriated, but I decided not to say anything about it – that is, until I heard the music blaring from the backyard after I had been working all day. One of the workers told me dad was throwing a party for my brother, but I refused to believe it until I saw it for myself.
I stormed over to the backyard to find that, sure enough, it was full of people dancing, drinking, and celebrating my loser brother, who apparently told dad he was forever changed and couldn’t wait to begin working. Right.
I’m going to shoot straight with you – in that moment, I not only hated my brother, I hated my father too. And I know it was probably out of line, but I couldn’t stop myself.
I charged over to my dad, got right in his face, and told him what he should have heard a long time ago: that he is a wasteful fool who has no concept of how to run a business, that he is going to end up losing everything I’ve worked for because of his blind devotion to an ungrateful, spoiled child.
And I told him that I wasn’t going to stick around to watch it happen, that I wanted my share of the estate before my brother blew any more of it. Dad tried to explain, but I didn’t want to hear it. I had said my piece, and I left to pack my bags.
To dad’s credit, he actually cut me a check for a very significant amount of money before I left (I didn’t realize we even had that much). I felt a little guilty for leaving him, especially because the old man was in tears, but you’ve got to draw the line somewhere.
Besides, I’ve done plenty of work for him. It’s time I did something for me.
This parable is adapted from Luke 15:11-32.