Build Your House On The Rock

The House Built On RockBeing an atheist, I do not often quote the bible, but the hymn version of the following parable was one of my favourites as a kid and I guess in some odd way the meaning has stayed with me:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Perhaps one day I’ll write more on my thoughts regarding the scriptures, but right now I just want to take the meaning of this parable to the world we live in.

Our fast paced, reckless capitalism is the house built on the sand.

If you need anymore convincing of this, take a look at the economic crash and recession fall out we’ve just experienced, and continue to experience. You will struggle to find a more current and real example of a house built on sand.

So why do we do it? Why build your house on the sand?

It’s easy to build where land is cheap and abundant. To extend the metaphor, moulding from sand requires less than a tenth of the commitment of its rock counterpart.

Rock is tough. Rock is resistant to change. It takes time and determination to bend it to your will. And it is for this very reason that a house built on the rock will stand tall.

We are mere weeks from the end of year 1. 12 months. 365 days. 8,766 hours. 525,949 minutes and I don’t want to count the seconds.

Where are we now? On paper, the cynic may say we are no further towards a goal than we were that time ago. In truth, we have been building our house on rock. We have toiled and sculpted the foundations for the company and now, and only now it is time to build our house.

So to another parable:

A turkey was chatting with a bull. “I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree,” sighed the turkey, “but I haven’t got the energy.”

“Well, why don’t you nibble on some of my droppings?” replied the bull. “They’re packed with nutrients.”

The turkey pecked at a lump of dung and found that it actually gave him enough strength to reach the first branch of the tree.

The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch.

Finally after a fortnight, there he was proudly perched at the top of the tree. Soon he was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot the turkey out of the tree.

The lesson: Bullshit might get you to the top, but it won’t keep you there.

We’ve all met them. The bullshitters, who build their houses on sand.

It is easy to admire the house built in a day to a great fanfare. The bullshitters that talk a great game. But when the wind comes, the house falls down.

The freemium model is a great example of a house on the sand. Having hundreds of thousands of users in the hope that they will convert to a higher, paid model illustrates well the illusion that a great big house is a good house. In reality, we must assess the structure it is built on before we can conclude it to be a good house.

It is no stretch to look at ourselves in the same way.

Those built on aspects of the truth; elements which they select in order to portray the whole are the houses built on the sand. Often it takes a fierce storm for us to realise who is really built on sand and who is built on rock.

It may be ugly and it may be arduous, but in truth the long term competitive and personal advantages of crafting your foundations from rock are worth the payoff. It’s worth handling the questions as to why the house isn’t built yet, sacrificing the great fanfare of an overnight success in order to create an enduring structure.

Much of the work that has been spent crafting these foundations is only now starting to bear fruit. Having the self-belief to stick to your guns and not move to create something quickly on sand is tough. Surrounding yourself with friends and family who build on rock allows you to continue carving away. Steer clear of the sandmen, the phoneys.

As we begin to lay the bricks on a foundation we’ve spent a year to build, we’ll wait for the storm to see how well we weather it and really test the rock we think we have built it upon.

Build your house and yourself on rock. It may take a bad storm to vindicate that decision, but it’s true that a lasting structure is better than one vanquished in a turbulent time.

Thanks for reading,



  1. Steve

    I understand your critique of capitalism. I believe the root of the problem is greed, rather than an economic system. What do you suggest as a solution?

    • jonny

      To be honest Steve, I agree and support capitalism. My interpretation is just a little different. Capitalism is pursued and understood as the maximisation of profits. I prefer the idea that capitalism is the maximisation of wealth; wealth of the people working for companies, wealth of the community, wealth of the environment. I personally believe that if this were the goal, a less narrow and therefore more positive kind of capitalism would prevail, where success really can affect wider positive change. What do you think?

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