Life Lessons


Steve Nauman

Hopefully, you’ve had some memorable Life Lessons along this journey that have helped you make some good choices in life! Sometimes these Lessons can come suddenly when we see-or hear of someone who did not make a good choice, and a little voice inside us says: “note to self: don’t ever do that!”

One of my first positive Life lesson tidbits  that stayed with me, came when I was 7 years old on a trip to Syracuse NY with my father while he was buying merchandise for his store. We were at the Wholesaler where he bought clothes, shoes etc. and my father always called his order in ahead of time, so we just went in to pick it up and pay the owner.

Even though my father’s name was Arnold, this older man we were paying called him “Arnie”. Since I was his son, he instantly called me “”Little Arnie”! Then here’s the Life Lesson which I found to be true during the 39 years of being in business for myself…… He looked at me and said “Little Arnie, if you’re ever in business for yourself, don’t just focus on sales. It seems like everyone puts all their attention on sales. Always pay attention to the buying. If you buy it right-you can sell it right. The money is made in the buying.”  Not much I could do with that at 7 years old other than store it away….. I did, and I proved his advice to be true!

My favorite part of all the elementary school years was fifth grade, because of my teacher, Mrs Muise. She taught us so much and she made learning so much fun! It was the common everyday, practical things she taught (in addition to the reading, writing, spelling, math, history etc)! She taught us things like how to read your gas meter, electric meter, how to balance a check book, wait on a customer and make change. She taught us a lot about nature, such as the migration habits of birds that were native to the area, and which are the first to return in the Spring-(not the Robins!) 

A few times she took us on a short nature walk and identified species of trees by their bark and leaves. She even showed us “how to girdle a tree”  so that it would die standing up-to be cut down later, the way some in Tree Management did. But one of the important Life Lessons  I learned from her was: “When you talk with someone, look them in the eye, it shows them you are listening and it shows respect.”

In high school, my English teacher, Mr Estus was constantly using Life Lessons anytime he could…..and that is what made his  classes so interesting! For example, I remember one day at the beginning of class he said “before we start today, take out a sheet of paper for a quiz about yesterday’s class.” Immediately a girl raised her hand and said: “I don’t have to take the quiz because I wasn’t here yesterday.” He replied “That’s right, you were not here. But, if you don’t take the quiz you will get a zero.”  She exploded up out of her seat and yelled: “THAT’S NOT FAIR!” 

He just calmly said: “First of all, I don’t yell and you don’t yell, okay? Second of  all, the quiz is on the homework assignment that was given 3 days ago when you were here, so it actually IS fair for you to take the quiz. And finally, what I want you all to learn and remember is that when you leave these walls and  are in your own working profession-whatever that may be….. there WILL BE things happen to you that might not seem fair. But you know what?  That’s life, and it happens to everyone!  So it will be up to you to figure out how to make the best out of every situation, or you might spend a lot of your life feeling defeated.”

Mr. Estus also made it possible for me to work full time in my father’s store during my senior year-while I also did an extensive independent project, with him as my advisor on both! He required me to keep a daily journal of all activities I did at the store each day, then turn that information in as a report to him weekly.

He had it set-up so that he could grade me in several different areas, although I never knew exactly what he was looking for.  That other project he had me working on was a photo and history story of our little town, from origin to current. Of course there was no internet, and I soon found out that most official original Town records had been destroyed by fire. So, I went to a few different elderly individuals who had many pictures, personal information and private history books. 

The school had a darkroom I could use to reproduce pictures, I was not allowed to use copies of any kind and wouldn’t dream of using original ones anyway! But it took a long time….. because I had to earn the trust of the people I was visiting to get the information and go through their pictures…… While I was scrambling working in the store, meeting with the people in the evening, working in the darkroom when I was finally allowed to borrow pictures and studying the history books, I rarely talked with my teacher, except when I turned in my weekly report -I WAS TOO BUSY! I never even noticed that he was quietly watching me from a distance….. 

At the end of the school year, Mr. Estus told me that the Photo/History Book project and the Work Study Program both had taught me more about life and business than the school ever could have!     But, I suppose like many people, it took me years to realize the numerous Life Lessons I’d learned from my parents, teachers and working with my father from a young age. All of those lessons combined have helped me avoid some bad choices and make better choices.

Recorded in God’s Word are many of the Life Lessons that Christ was constantly teaching. Some of His teachings are just good, simple practices for anyone to follow, and in some cases have been used by people who may not have even known Christ was the Author! One example is “The Golden Rule”   “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (NIV)

Even though we could say that Christ gave some really good Life Lessons for anyone to follow, He also spoke with authority concerning our eternal lives….. “Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me” John 14:6 (NASB)

So, I hope you have been able to learn from some Life Lessons on your journey. And that your eternal journey is settled because you have accepted Christ as your Savior!

Till Next Timeā€¦..

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Steve Nauman

These wonderful posts are written by my good friend Steve Nauman. He lives on a farm in northern Indiana with his wife, Ruth.

He owned and operated a machine shop until 2020. These stories come from the people and experiences that made lasting impressions upon him as he grew up in his father's general store in Upstate NY and later in his own business.