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The Silly Man Who Sold His Beard

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The Silly Man Who Sold His Beard

As a child in the 1950’s I read a Gypsy Folk Tale that never left the back of my mind. Today I recall the story in light of the subject of Pastoral Leadership and the people working in the church and on staff.

It is possible to be overly demanding to the good help that God has placed under us. Unreasonable demands are too often made that have nothing to do with God or Church.

That may have caused some to withdraw from laity leadership. They felt they had no life or time of their own. There’s a lesson to be learned here.

In my old age, I still fret that I may have made unnecessary demands on others. I never wanted to be a Lord over God’s Heritage.

Maybe that is why some in our churches no longer lead, they just sit back.

Thank God for thoughtful and nourishing Pastors who encourage growth in their future leaders.


The Silly Man Who Sold His Beard

By: Swedish Gypsy Storyteller, Johan Dimitir Taikon (1879-1950)

Also known by his Romani Name, Milos.


Once there were two merchants who were good friends. One was smart, and one

was silly; the smart one was clean shaven, like a young boy, and the other

had a long, thick beard. Take my word for it, it was a very handsome beard I was what the cool kids these days call a beard bro.

One day they were sitting together, talking of this and that. Said one, who

had no beard, “Little brother, would you like to sell me your beard?”

The one with the beard answered, “Why not, if you’ll pay me good price.”

“I’ll give you whatever you ask for that fine beard of yours.”

“I’ll let you name the price, good friend. I know you’ll be fair,” said the

one with the beard.

“Fine. I’ll give you a good sum, but on one condition. I want the beard to

keep on growing on your face, but I will take care of it – how it is to

grow, how it is to be combed, what perfume is to be put in it, and how it

should be cut. Everything will have to be done as I like it. You won’t have

the right to say anything about it. That beard will be all mine. If anyone

says to you, ‘What a beautiful beard!’ you’ll have to answer quickly,

‘Sorry, my good man, it’s not my beard, it belongs to so-and-so.’ That’s

what you’ll have to say.”

The man with the beard had no objection to that.

“Sure, friend,” he said. “You can keep looking after my beard, I mean your

beard. It will be cheaper for me!”

So they wrote out a contract, and the merchant who was clean-shaven paid a

good sum to the other.

Mishtò! Fine and dandy. From that day on, the clean-shaven was very

particular about taking care of the beard he had bought on his friend’s

face, and he stopped at nothing to show it. Whenever he felt like it or

thought of it, which was many a time during the day, he came to tend to the

beard his merchant friend had on his chin. It made no difference to him

whether his friend had company or whether he was asleep. And sometimes he

wasn’t too gentle about the beard, either. He’d pull it and tug it.

Sometimes he’d cut it to a point, sometimes in squares or zigzags. One day

he’d smear sweet-scented oil over it, and the next he’d pour on it heaven

knows what.

If the poor sufferer complained, it was like talking to the wind. His crying

a wailing just struck a stone wall.

“Listen, friend; listen, you there! Are you out of your mind? You’re acting

like a mad man. Leave my beard in peace.”

“Well, here is something,” the one who had bought the beard cried.

“Grumbling and kicking! Maybe you’d like to break your contract! You’ll get

into trouble if you do. The law is on my side. Just keep calm. That beard

belongs to me, and I have a right to do with it as I wish.”

And then he went at that beard hammer and nails. He tugged it and pulled it

till the poor merchant screamed to heaven.

So time went by while the other one who had brought the beard kept tearing

and teasing the beard of the one who had it on his chin. In the end, the

poor sufferer couldn’t stand it any longer.

“Little brother, good friend, I want to buy back my beard. For the love of

our good god, let me have my beard again. You are making my life worse then

if I lived with the devil.”

“Don’t talk foolishly. I am very happy with my beard on your face. It’s a

nice beard; it’s thick and glossy. Look at how strong the roots of the hair

are,” he said as he began to pull it. “I want to keep it. Maybe later on we’ll see what can be done.”

And so he kept on taking care of the beard in his own way and as he felt

like it. In the end it was too much for the bearded merchant.

“I want to buy my beard back!” he cried. “Little brother, I want my beard.

You are driving me crazy. Give it back to me and I’ll pay you any price.”

“Hot much do you offer?”

“I’ll give you twice as much as you paid me.”

“Twice as much for this fine, thick, glossy beard! Just feel it,” and he

took a hold of it. “You’ll have to go higher, brother.”

“Ow! Let go! Name any price. I’ll give you whatever you ask.”

“That’s talking! Give me four times as much as I give you, and you’ll pay

just right for you beard – and your foolishness!”

So the bearded merchant paid the other. And then he quickly went to the

Barber and had his beard shaved off.”

Written by Martyn Ballestero

November 15, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Posted in Christian Living, Leadership

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3 Responses

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  1. Br Ballestero. Thank you so much for sharing this funny story. Really made me start thinking. When will you come back to Norway and preach for us???

    Pastor Andreassen

    Gøran ANdreassen

    November 15, 2011 at 3:39 pm

  2. Much thanks, sir, for a tale I also remember from my childhood. I’ve told other people this tale through the years, without having seen the text since I was 11 or 12. By any chance, do you have the title for the story book collection this one appeared in? My parents bought it for us from a traveling salesman. whom we never saw again.

    Calvin Miller

    January 7, 2012 at 4:35 am

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