This is said to be a Chinese folk tale, although its origins are not clear.
Many Christians use this tale as an instructive analogy.
An elderly woman had two large pots, each hung on
the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck.
One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot
was perfect and always delivered a full portion of
water. At the end of the long walks from the stream
to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For a full two years this went on daily, with the
woman bringing home only one and a half pots of
water.. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its
accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was
ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that
it could only do half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be bitter
failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.
‘I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my
side causes water to leak out all the way back to
The old woman smiled, ‘Did you notice that there are
flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other
pot’s side?’ ‘That’s because I have always known
about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your
side of the path, and every day while we walk back,
you water them.’ For two years I have been able to
pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table.
Without you being just the way you are, there would
not be this beauty to grace the house.’