After becoming an adult with a family and responsibilities, I quickly learned that there were things that I did not know. Things that if I had known them they would have made my transition to adulthood much smoother. One of those things was performing general maintenance on a vehicle. Well I knew how to change a tire… slightly. Other than that, I was oblivious. So when it came time to repair or maintain things on the hoopties I owned in my young adult days, I would have to call my Dad. Now, I appreciated the fact that my Dad was industrious and versatile enough to know how to do things like change the oil, change my brakes, change my spark plugs, and replace small items like fuses. But if I were to be honest, I cringed at the idea of having to call him to help me! Why, you ask? I didn’t like to call my Dad to help me with my car maintenance issues because, instead of teaching me how to do what I needed help with and work to make me more independent, my Dad would get so engrossed into the project that he would just take over and do it! Interestingly enough, my wife and my sons say that I perform the same way.
One of the advantages, however, to having him “help me” with these projects was that I had an opportunity to watch him observe the issue from various vantage points to see what would be the most advantageous solution. This taught me to be analytical in my problem solving. In hindsight, most of the solutions would involve raising the car up with a jack and attacking the issue from the underside of the vehicle. A disadvantage to these encounters was that Daddy would open his tailgate and pull out all of his tools and had a 10-15 minute preparation ritual before actually starting the work. This man was serious about the tasks! It was like watching a surgeon prepare to perform a delicate procedure. On the flip side, this taught me a great deal about preparation.
Fast forward to 2019. A few weeks ago, I went to borrow one of my Dad’s trucks to help move my sons into their apartment and one of his front daytime running lights were out. I assured him that I could take care of that for him and get it done. Instead, he wanted to repair it himself before I took the truck. I had already peeped out the strategy for what needed to happen to replace the bulb, because I had learned from him to plan before you attack. It would have taken me no more than 15-20 minutes to complete the task. But Daddy, of course, has his preparation ritual. He pulls his truck out to his shed, lets up the rolling door, pulls out his tools, and brings out his car jack and his utility light. While he is doing that, I had already began my strategy and had successfully loosened the bulb from the casing. I am laughing hysterically inside while he is getting his stuff together. When he gets to a stopping point, right before he puts something on the floor to get up under the car, I respectfully ask,
“Daddy what are you about to do?”
He then says, “Well I have to get up under the truck to remove the bulb.” I then explain to him that I have the bulb twisted off and that it would not be possible to get it out from the bottom because there is a metal casing that will prevent him from accessing it from the bottom. He walks over to the truck and I show him what I had just shared with him. He then sees that the bulb is already twisted out of the casing. It is at that point that he understands that though the bulb is difficult to get to, he doesn’t need to get under the truck to access it, he just needs to maneuver differently from above. He also learned at that moment that he didn’t need the whole tool box, he only needed one tool. Now he still didn’t let me help with the manual activities involved to complete the task, but we saved at least 20-30 minutes by me providing a different perspective on how to complete it.
I see a few interesting takeaway analogies from this story.
- Being excluded from a processes can be an advantageous learning experience. It was David’s exclusion from his family that made him a skilled warrior.- I Samuel 17:34-36
- A fresh perspective can open up new and more efficient ways of doing things. We shouldn’t be so routine in our operation that we fail to ask ourselves if what we do can be done in a different way that can save us time, energy and resources.- Isaiah 43:19
- As men of God we must learn to maintain our position of being the head even in challenging and transitional times. It can sometimes be tempting to lay down our standards in a effort to complete a task, but we should learn to maneuver from above instead of going to a lower standard.- Colossians 3:1-3
- Learning from those you teach can be a rewarding as the act of teaching itself.- Luke 7:6-9
- We can’t be so quick to judge what we seem as shortcomings in the lives of others, because we might find ourselves being judged by the same standard. -Galatians 6:1
So in this case, I learned from an experience I didn’t like. And even though I didn’t always learn what I set out to learn, my learning experience was so much greater than what I initially intended. The things that I learned from my Dad during those encounters were seeds that he unknowingly sowed that brought him back a harvest. Yeah, I know… it may not have been a big harvest to you, but because I partially threw his day off, it was a big harvest to him (that’s an inside joke that only he and I will understand)! LOL