the Parable of the Two Watchman

Once there was a rich man who had two watchmen for his hen houses. One was diligent and one was lazy. The rich man left for a few days to sell his produce at market. While he was gone, the lazy watchman knew the rich man wouldn’t catch him so he slept at night when he should’ve been watching his hen house. A wild animal broke in and stole eggs and ran off several hens. When the rich man returned, he discovered what had happened in the one hen house but yelled at both watchmen.

While, for a few days, the lazy watchman actually stayed awake to watch his hen house, he soon returned to his old habits and began sleeping at night. Soon enough, the wild animal was back to stealing eggs and running off hens. The rich man was furious but he was afraid to fire the lazy watchman because he worried about how long it would take him to find a new watchman. And that meant he would have to be the one staying awake to watch the hen house.

So the rich man decidedĀ  to have the watchmen walk around the hen house twice as often. The lazy watchman kept falling asleep while the diligent watch man tried to keep up with the extra work. The rich man didn’t pay either man much – not even enough to buy the eggs they watched. The lazy man didn’t mind because he had to sleep anyway. The diligent man didn’t mind because he had some time each night to weave baskets he could sell at the market. But now, while the lazy man still found time to sleep, the diligent man no longer had time to make his baskets.

Soon the diligent watchman quit and found another rich man who needed his hen house watched. However, the rich man had great difficulty finding a second watchman and soon grew tired of staying up to watch a hen house. So, he asked the lazy watchman to guard both hen houses. The lazy watchman demanded to be paid 50% more but argued he was doing the work of two men so it was quite a deal for the rich man. The rich man, while he at first resisted, soon agreed to the lazy watchman’s terms because he could find no other watchman worth hiring.