Faithlife Corporation

Change your name or change your conduct

Notes & Transcripts

"Alexander the Great, one of the greatest military generals who ever
lived, conquered almost the entire known world with his vast army. One
night during a campaign, he couldn't sleep and left his tent to walk
around the campgrounds.
As he was walking he came across a soldier asleep on guard duty - a
serious offense. The penalty for falling asleep on guard duty was, in some
cases, instant death; the commanding officer sometimes poured kerosene on
the sleeping soldier and lit it.
The soldier began to wake up as Alexander the Great approached him.
Recognizing who was standing in front of him, the young man feared for his
life. "Do you know what the penalty is for falling asleep on guard duty?"
Alexander the Great asked the soldier.
"Yes, sir," the soldier responded in a quivering voice.
"Soldier, what's your name?" demanded Alexander the Great.
"Alexander, sir."
Alexander the Great repeated the question: "What is your name?"
"My name is Alexander, sir," the soldier repeated.
A third time and more loudly Alexander the Great asked, "What is
your name?"
A third time the soldier meekly said, "My name is Alexander, sir."
Alexander the Great then looked the young soldier straight in the
eye. "Soldier," he said with intensity, "either change your name or change
your conduct." "

source: (questions the veracity of the quote)

The story goes that a young boy was brought before Alexander the Great for stealing a horse. Alexander saw how young he was and heard his story and decided he would go easy on him. Getting ready to release him, Alexander asked the young boy, “What is your name?” He replied, “Alexander, sir.” Alexander the Great was furious and asked him again, “What is your name?” The boy, this time with fear in his voice said, “Alexander, sir.” In anger, Alexander the Great threw the boy to the ground pointed at him and said, “Boy, change your conduct, or change your name.”


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