An emperor in the Far East was growing old and knew it was time to
choose his successor. Instead of choosing one of his assistants or
his children, he decided to do something different. He called
young people in the kingdom together one day.
He said, "It is time for me to step down and choose the next
I have decided to choose one of you." The children were
shocked, but the emperor continued. "I am going to give each one
of you a seed today - one very special seed. I want you to
plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today
with what you have grown from this one seed. I will then judge the
plants that you bring, & the one I choose will be the next
A boy named Ling was there and, like the others, he
received a seed.
He went home and excitedly told his mother the story.
She helped him get a pot and planting soil, and he planted the
seed and watered it, carefully. Everyday, he would water it and
watch to see if it had grown.
After about three weeks, some of the other youths began to talk
their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Ling
kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew.
Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by,
still nothing. By now,
others were talking about their plants, but Ling didn't have
a plant and he felt like a failure. Six months went by--still
nothing in Ling's pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone
else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Ling didn't say
anything to his friends. He just kept waiting for his seed to grow. A
year finally went by and all the youths of the kingdom brought their
plants to the emperor for inspection. Ling told his mother that he
wasn't going to take an empty pot. But his mother asked him to be
honest about what happened. Ling felt sick at his stomach, but he
knew his mother was right. He took his empty pot to the palace.
When Ling arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by
the other youths. They were beautiful--in all shapes and
sizes. Ling put his empty pot on the floor and many of the other
children laughed at him. A few felt sorry for him and just said,
"Hey, nice try."
When the emperor arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the
young people. Ling just tried to hide in the back. "My, what great
plants, trees, and flowers you have grown," said the emperor. "Today
one of you will be appointed the next emperor." All of a sudden,
the emperor spotted Ling at the back of the room with his empty
pot. He ordered his guards to bring him to the front. Ling was
terrified. He thought, "The emperor knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will
have me killed!"
When Ling got to the front, the Emperor asked his name. "My name
is Ling," he replied.
All the kids were laughing and making fun of him. The
emperor asked everyone to quiet down. He looked at Ling, and then
announced to the crowd, "Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!"
Ling couldn't believe it. Ling couldn't even grow his seed.
How could he be the new emperor? Then the emperor said, "One
year ago today, I gave everyone here a seed. I told you to take
the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave
you all boiled seeds that would not grow. All of you, except Ling, have
brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the
seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one
I gave you. Ling was the only one with the courage and honesty to
bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who
will be the new emperor!"
If you plant honesty, you will reap trust.
If you plant goodness, you will reap friends.
If you plant humility, you will reap greatness.
If you plant perseverance, you will reap victory.
If you plant consideration, you will reap harmony.
If you plant hard work, you will reap success.
If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation.
If you plant faith, you will reap miracles.
So let us be careful about what we plant now; it will determine
what we will reap tomorrow. The seeds we now scatter will make
life worse or better for us or for the ones who will come after us.
Someday we will enjoy the fruits or will pay for the choices we