Summer is coming to an end and autumn will soon be upon us. The changes autumn brings are something I have always enjoyed—the collage of changing leaves, the cooler, brisker air, living the PSL life at Starbucks. Don’t judge. But, the season is not the only thing changing these days. Our family is in a season of change, too: a new baby on the way, a new house to move into, a new school for Gwen and Lydia. It’s amazing just how much can change and how quickly it does so. And, while some things seem to never stay the same, there are also those things that never seem to change.
A couple weeks ago, I turned 31, and one of the things that still hasn’t changed after all these years is that when it comes to projects around the house, I’m going to need my dad’s help. There are plenty of things I cannot do on my own and, thankfully, my dad is willing and eager to assist. (At least, I think. You are willing and eager, aren’t you, dad?) Together, we have become architects and engineers and electricians and mechanics and tech support and landscapers—you name it. Even most recently, we earned the title Tough Mudder together.
He has helped and enabled me to be things I could not become on my own. Since we’ve spent quite a bit of time together in the garage working on various projects, I have come to learn some valuable lessons in those moments. I call them garage thoughts. Charles Kettering, who was an inventor and businessman, once said, “Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice.” Yes, my dad has given me a fair share of advice, but he has also given me a tremendous example to follow. These garage thoughts aren’t just words he has shared; they are practical lessons he has lived.
“Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice.”Charles Kettering
Create time in your schedule to help others.
My parents have always been eager to jump in and help others, but we cannot be generous with our time if we do not have margin in our schedules to do so. We will never accidentally drift toward generosity and helpfulness; it requires intentionality. Unfortunately, we too often wear the badge of busyness with pride. We treat our jam-packed schedules like a contest and the person who doesn’t come up for air wins the prize. Margin is a tool God desires to use to dismantle our kingdoms of selfishness. It is a tool God desires to use to draw us closer to His heart and closer to one another. You schedule important events on your calendar, so maybe it’s time you schedule in some margin. Create time in your schedule to help others.
When you hit a roadblock, frustration is the easy answer. Perseverance is the best answer.
Way too many of our father/son projects have hit roadblocks. Something that should have taken an hour grows into two or three. I suppose that is bound to happen when people who aren’t mechanics by trade pretend to be and watch YouTube videos as a guide. Sometimes you don’t even have the right tools for the job. We have spent a lot of time and energy trying to fish out a screw or ratchet we couldn’t hold onto. If you’re driving with me and hear a rattle in the engine block, don’t worry about it. It’s probably nothing.
Look, things aren’t always smooth sailing, and you shouldn’t want them to be. As someone once said,”A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.” Frustration is the easy answer to roadblocks. Giving up and turning in might seem like the logical choice. But, there is a better answer to the roadblocks we encounter: perseverance. Push through. Keep going. Perseverance will allow you to learn valuable lessons you might otherwise miss. It will allow for growth that could never occur on the smooth sea. Obstacles are not excuses to get out; they’re motivations to overcome.
Obstacles are not excuses to get out; they’re motivations to overcome.
Laughter can overcome a multitude of annoyances.
Let me be honest with you for a moment, though. My default mode when annoyed is anger, and yet my anger has never resolved my annoyances. When working on a project around the house, my anger often causes me to make even more mistakes which causes me to be more annoyed which causes me to be more angry which causes me to be… well, you get the idea. It’s a terrible cycle to get into.
Remember, though, your response is always your responsibility. You get to choose how you respond to the things that don’t go your way. Instead of anger, my dad and I try to choose laughter—to be fair, it might be incredulous laughter. But, we choose laughter because the levity eases the sting of annoyance. It breaks the cycle for a moment. It causes us to take a step back and evaluate. Stop allowing your situation to dictate your behavior. Instead of being reactive to your circumstances, choose right now, proactively, how you will behave.
Your response is always your responsibility.
It’s the things that not everyone sees that sometimes have the greatest impact.
It’s not what you do on the platform, but what you do off-stage that has the greatest impact. Remember, your character is who you are when no one is looking. If the person everyone sees and the person you are behind the scenes are incongruent, then you don’t have character; you’re just playing one.
If the person everyone sees and the person you are behind the scenes are incongruent, then you don’t have character; you’re just playing one.
Never underestimate the importance of moments. The impact we strive to make isn’t chiefly born from big events. It comes from small, consistent moments that often go overlooked. Pastor and author Andy Stanley wrote in his book Next Generation Leader, “There will come a time in your leadership when your character will be tested. You will have an opportunity to be the hero. The opportunity will take you by surprise. In the heat of the moment you will be unaware of all that is at stake. But if you do what’s right, you will look back and see that it was a defining moment for you as a leader and as an individual.”
And, that’s just the truth. We often don’t realize we’re in a defining moment until we’re on the other side of it. So, treat every moment as defining—because, in reality, it is. Every moment shapes and chisels and cultivates the type of person you are becoming and how you’re leading others. So, yes, even in the oil-stained recesses of my garage, where it’s just me and my dad, there have been profound moments of impact in my life.
“There will come a time in your leadership when your character will be tested. You will have an opportunity to be the hero. The opportunity will take you by surprise. In the heat of the moment you will be unaware of all that is at stake. But if you do what’s right, you will look back and see that it was a defining moment for you as a leader and as an individual.”Andy Stanley, Next Generation Leader
Now, these are just a few lessons I have learned working on projects with dad over the years. We need to intentionally create time in our schedules to help others. We need to choose perseverance over frustration. Our laughter covers a multitude of annoyances. Never underestimate moments because they may be of significant impact in your life. I’m sure many more lessons are to follow because, well, some things never change. And, with a new house to make home, I have a strange sense there will be some projects that will require dad’s assistance along the way. And, what I will value more than a completed project is the time we get to spend together and the lessons I learn in the process.