What Really Matters?
What are things really worth?
by Laurence Chilcott (revised, originally published in 2014)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider that people and relationships are worth far more than wealth.
Preparation and materials
- None required.
- Ask the children the following questions.
- Have you ever made a wish when you’ve blown out the candles on your birthday cake?
- Has your wish ever come true?
- If I could grant you one wish, what would you wish for?
Listen to a range of responses for each question.
- Point out that there are many stories about people who have been granted a wish and what happened to them when it came true. Usually, things don’t work out quite as they expect.
Today, our story is based on a well-known Greek myth about a king whose wish was granted, but who came to regret that it had been.
- Tell the following story.
King Midas Is Granted a Wish
Silenus, Dionysus’ friend, was missing and Dionysus was worried about him. Unknown to Dionysus, his friend had wandered off and was sleeping in the garden of King Midas.
Some of King Midas’ servants found Silenus and brought him before the king. Fortunately, King Midas recognized Silenus and treated him well, returning him to Dionysus after entertaining him for several days. Dionysus was grateful to King Midas, so he said that he would grant the king a wish for the kindness that he had shown.
King Midas was already a wealthy man, but he was greedy for more. With a glint in his eye, he said, ‘I want anything I touch to be turned into gold.’
Dionysus felt that it would all end in tears, but granted the king’s wish nevertheless.
Back at the palace, King Midas could not wait to put Dionysus’ promise to the test. He touched his throne, which was made of finely carved wood. Brilliant – it was now pure gold and surely the finest throne in the land. No one would have anything as splendid to compare with it.
He touched his wine goblet – mere silver – and it was magically transformed into a beautiful gold one.
It wasn’t long before he had the finest golden plates, bowls and cutlery, which were worth more than he could ever have dreamed of. In no time at all, King Midas had transformed his throne room into the richest, most wonderful golden throne room in the world.
He sat on his throne to admire his handiwork and imagined the envious looks of visiting kings and princes.
All this work had given the king an appetite, so he reached out for a shiny, red apple that sat in the golden bowl by his side. Before he could take his first bite, however, he noticed the rosy blush changing colour. He’d heard of Golden Delicious apples, but this was ridiculous! As he watched, the apple turned to pure gold, so it was now for display only.
What was King Midas to do? Could he be fed by his servants perhaps? Would touching things with his mouth or throat turn them to gold? He certainly hoped not.
As the king sat worrying over this turn of events, his daughter entered the room. She stood at the door, mouth wide open in amazement at the room’s transformation. To King Midas, his daughter was the most precious thing in his life. As usual, he leapt up off his throne to embrace her.
Too late, he realized what he had done. Her warm, soft body turned cold and hard; her smile became strangely fixed on her beautiful face. She, too, had been turned into gold!
How King Midas wept. He realized that his daughter meant more to him than all the gold in the world. He understood that his greed had blinded him to things that were truly valuable and he bitterly regretted that his wish had been granted.
Ashamed and chastened by his actions, the king returned to Dionysus. He begged for his wish to be cancelled and pleaded for everything to return to how it had been. Fortunately, Dionysus agreed and King Midas had his daughter back.
The king had learnt an important lesson, though. He now understood that there are many things that are more important than money and gold.
Time for reflection
We can sometimes think that money is the answer to all of our problems. However, there are many things that money cannot buy.
Ask the children whether they can think of things that are very important, but can’t be bought with money.
Listen to a range of responses.
Suggestions could include health, happiness, family, friends, ability in sport or schoolwork and so on.
Consider some of the possible consequences of great wealth, such as the envy and jealousy of others, fear of false friends, worry about burglary or ransom demands, unwanted loss of privacy and lack of purpose in life.
In the Bible, Jesus said, ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.’ (Matthew 6.19)
Help us today to appreciate the things that are important in life.
Help us to be thankful for our health, our food, our families and friends and the people who love and care for us.
Help us, too, to understand that we are important to you.
‘Some things never change’ from the film Frozen 2, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVW9QOIeqQg (3.54 minutes long)