Fourteen years ago, I asked my handy friend, Carm, if I could hire him to do a flooring renovation. He said, “No. But I’ll teach you how to do it for free.”
I laughed. The idea was absurd. The only tools I owned at the time were books and guitars. The extent of my property maintenance skills were changing light bulbs and mowing the lawn. My father, oddly enough, is a bona fide jack-of-all-trades, but apparently the “handy” gene skips a generation in our family. You should watch my brother try to hammer a nail! There’s a half-hour you won’t forget. I mean, the fact I call books and guitars “tools” says it all, really.
“That’s not a good idea,” I explained. “You see, I’m not handy, and you’ll end up doing all the work, Carm. I’d feel more comfortable just paying you to do it.”
My Italian friend responded with an offer I couldn’t refuse. “Nonsense,” he insisted. “Anyone can be handy. I’ll teach you. It’ll be fun. See you Saturday.”
He came over with his tools and taught me how to use a wet saw, mix mortar, draw a chalk line and lay tile. The following weeks I worked on the project by myself in my spare time. Carm occasionally dropped by to provide encouragement and coaching, but for the most part I finished the project myself. I was amazed at how good the slate-tile floor looked in the end. Carm was right! I could do it. I did do it!
Today, I’m confident and competent enough to attempt all kinds of repairs and renovations around the house. I’m grateful that Carm initiated me into the brotherhood of handyman discipleship 14 years ago. My inauguration into the world of power tools still amazes me.
How did Carm do it? Well, he didn’t just encourage me to do it. He discipled me by taking the time to create an opportunity for me to actually do it. This is how Jesus discipled, as well. He facilitated opportunities for his disciples to do what he did—heal, preach, cast out demons, for example—and they, too, were amazed that they could do it
Telling someone, “you can do it” is not enough. Discipleship must include training and facilitating opportunities for people to do what they don’t believe they can do. Of course, this kind of discipleship requires coaches who are patient and wise.
I know what you’re probably thinking. How many wise coaches can a church realistically expect to have? I’ve got good news. The Bible tells us that everyone in our churches can be wise.
One of wisdom’s key features in the Bible is that she is equally available and accessible to all. Day and night she broadcasts her message everywhere.
Proverbs says: “Out in the open she calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square . . . she shouts in the streets, in the markets she raises her voice . . . on the hilltop along the road, at the crossroads where paths meet . . . at the city gate leading into the city . . . I call to you, to all of you! I raise my voice to all people!”
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, or what advantages or disadvantages life has given you, wisdom is readily available to everyone who seeks her. Anyone can gain a heart of wisdom, and, when you do, your life will improve in very practical ways. Your physical health will improve, you will have a better handle on your finances, you will have healthier relationships, you will experience greater peace of mind, you will sleep better at night. Every aspect of your life will get better.
Wisdom is not a magic wand. It will not make your life perfect. Life will still be hard, challenging, painful and sad at times. But it will be better. Wisdom will help you dream big while accepting your limitations. She’ll empower you to develop realistic but motivating goals in life, and rob you of the excuses you use to justify your fear and laziness, constantly reminding you that living life to the fullest and maximizing your potential are choices—not fantasies.
Wisdom is the original life coach. She is eager to help us, and her services are worth far more than gold, silver and precious jewels. Yet she offers them to us free of charge.
So how do we let wisdom coach us? Stay tuned. . . .
Troy Watson(firstname.lastname@example.org) is pastor of Avon Mennonite Church in Stratford, Ont.