Originally published with the Fatherhood CoMission by Mike Young (2016)
It’s mine! I call it!
That’s the type of enthusiastic celebration that became the eulogies pronounced by my three sons as appliances or devices began to cough or wheeze in our home. Like vultures who dine on dead mechanical things, they waited anxiously for vacuum cleaners, DVD players, lawnmowers, toys, and computers to give up the ghost. Then they would fight over who got to take it apart. It’s part of our family heritage.
You see, I grew up with a dad who has the mechanical capacity to fix almost anything. So, as we worked on cars, tractors, appliances, and tools, he often encouraged me, “It’s already broken, take it apart and see what you can learn.” So, I take things apart, and so do my boys because my dad takes things apart. (Often, to Mom’s dismay, his projects fill the garage and spill out a bit!)
Over the years, I’ve learned much by first watching my dad, then helping him; and finally working on my own.
What’s Happening Inside is Important – I learned to appreciate the fact that you really can’t understand how to fix things or troubleshoot problems unless you know what’s happening inside. What’s really making this work? What I learn about how this thing works will help me understand how other things work.
Troubleshooting – You can’t begin to fix something until you really know what’s wrong. You can learn a lot by studying movement, sounds, mechanisms, and connections thoroughly.
Problem-Solving – Once you understand how this component fits into the big picture, you can begin to consider possible solutions. The first possible solution doesn’t always work. But it’s wise to start with the easiest and/or cheapest possibility.
Risk Tolerance – Some things break when you’re trying to fix them. You don’t win every time. So, you must evaluate. How much time, effort, and resources should you risk on this project?
Confidence – Confidence grows as you understand how things work, how they break, and how to fix them. I remember watching my dad start a tractor engine for the first time after a rebuild. There’s great joy in bringing broken things to life!
Ask for Help – When it comes to mechanical stuff, someone always knows a little bit more. I learned about limitations. It’s humbling but satisfying to tell a friend that you’re stumped and get good advice from one who knows more.
Celebration is Important – You know, I still call Dad and tell him when I’ve fixed something. Sometimes I remember to thank him for the money I’ve saved by repairing or replacing brakes, water heaters, toilets, and light fixtures.
You won’t be surprised to know that I’m still fixing things and taking things apart myself. In the past month, I’ve replaced the pump on our washing machine, a headlight on one vehicle, brakes on another, and changed out a toilet. Nor will you be surprised that the boys are turning out to be pretty good fixers as well.
Earlier this year, Tim helped a mentor get his motorcycle ready for a new riding season. In the past, Zach replaced the heater core on our F-150, and just this month, Ben got a dead lawnmower going again. He almost needed two faces to accommodate his smile as he drove it around the yard. There’s something about working with your hands that engenders a sense of healthy pride and confidence.
With all this in mind, here are a few application points:
Use what you know and love to pass on a healthy legacy. You may not be mechanically inclined. You may not even own any tools or know how to use them. But you do have skills, knowledge, and expertise in something. So, I want to encourage you to use those assets to invest in your children. Make memories, teach them. Impart valuable life skills through the things you know. Sports (if kept in proper perspective) can be a great teacher. Construction, hunting, finances, lawn care… add to the list. Use something you know. Actually, use everything you know to teach life skills and spiritual truth.
Teach spiritual truth along the way. I didn’t spell it out, but I’d like for you to re-read the lessons learned above with a spiritual perspective. My calling from God is to help churches disciple men to walk with Christ and lead well. Honestly, there are a good many broken men around. Without realizing it at the time, Dad’s encouragement for me to study and restore broken things was great preparation for ministry. I don’t want to take the analogy too far, but skills learned while working on tractors, toilets, and cars have fueled my passion for investing in men.
We live in a fallen world. Things break. Men fall and fail. While some mechanical things reach a point where they are beyond repair, I’m delighted to be reminded that…
There is hope for every man. His name is Jesus. While it’s delightful to celebrate the resurrection of a dead engine. It’s even more beautiful to see a man born again, functioning according to the Father’s design, walking with Christ, and leading well.
I’m thankful for my father’s legacy and am excited to be passing on to my own sons—A love for broken things.