What makes a quality carpenter?

That's almost a silly question, but I appreciate you staying here with me as I draw this analogy. If we were to change the question a little bit, it would start the answers flowing:

What does a quality carpenter need?

Now, that may be easier to answer. We can list several things, can't we?

  • Tools: Durable, well-made, and varied. An assortment that prepares the carpenter for whatever work may be called for. Some manual tools and some power tools.
  • Skills: Knowing what to do with the tools, how to best use them and when to use each one.
  • Experience: Knowing how to prepare for a job, how to prioritize and organize for the job. Know the easier ways to do the job well, and complete a quality product.
  • A great work bench: A place to plan out the job or at least clean out the tools and prepare them for the next job.
  • Resources: A good place to get wood, parts, hardware, and advice.
  • In addition to whatever else may belong on this list, the quality carpenter needs something else: WORK. The opportunity to use all of the above, not just to earn a paycheck, but to BE a carpenter.

But back to the original question, what does a quality carpenter need? All of the above. Now let me change gears here slightly to get at two very important spiritual points. They are:

  • Without purpose, you don't need any tools, skills, experience or resources.
  • Without purpose, you don't even know what tools, skills, experience or resources you may need.
  • Without a job to do, you don't know which tools you need!
  • If you have all the tools, skills, experience and resources and you focus on those, then you have defeated your purpose.
  • Also, if you don't put all your tools, skills, experience and resources into gear to meet the opportunities that come along, you aren't a carpenter, or whatever you call yourself or claim to be!

Let's shift from 'carpenter' to 'missionary' or 'minister' or 'Judeo-Christian' for the rest of this article:

Some Judeo-Christians have great wonderful study bibles, and shelves of books for study and understanding. Others have great tracts to hand out, or attend great churches and hear powerful, motivating sermons. Some listen to fantastic spiritual music (and really get into it), or follow deep spiritual rituals. Some have great friends and go to Bible studies with them. Some have wonderful families, parents, spouses, children and others. Some have great bosses, others have many blessings in their life, either material or non-material. Some worship one day a week, some worship several days, and others worship on different days.

Of the above, what does a quality Judeo-Christian person need? Okay, I'll be more subtle and ask a different question: What does a Judeo-Christian person benefit from?

None of these things makes the Judeo-Christian person. Not one of them. Just like the list above for a carpenter don't make anyone a quality carpenter, neither does the list above make anyone a quality Judeo-Christian person. All the things mentioned are just 'tools of the trade', and have little value outside of that definition. If the tool is not used, it is an un-used, or 'use-less' tool. No hammer can make me into a carpenter (ask my wife, she'll agree!) just as no Bible can make me a "good Christian" man.

A carpenter is defined by the carpenter's vocational purpose, by their career, by their craft, by their work. The carpenter uses all those tools to serve that purpose. What about the Judeo-Christian person? (Or the Buddhist, etc.) What about you in your life? This applies to you even if you are not religious, because you are only what you dedicate and commit yourself to, and not much more than that. Your possessions (and skills and experiences) are only use-full (full of use) if they are useful toward a goal, toward a mission, toward a life-style.

Just as the carpenter is identified by what the carpenter does, so is true of the Judeo-Christian person. As in all trades, there are different types of carpenters, and that is appropriate. Some make homes, some make furniture, some make cabinetry, some specialize in certain areas, some fix homes or furniture. So it is with the various things that are appropriate for Judeo-Christians to do.

Without purpose or direction, you look like the fish that is floating downstream. You may be alive, but you may be dead. Only live fish can swim upstream, and they do it by decision first followed by committed action. Check your attitude toward the tools in your life, and find your purpose!