As we continue in our series The God of Faith and Work, Jack Gross, a current student in our Advanced Leadership Training program, contributes this perspective-shifting post about the good resulting from enduring challenges.
A few days ago, I worked on a bathroom plumbing fixture for a client. You know the fixture; it’s the one with the single lever on the front. It needed a complete rebuild. This particular unit was not going to let me off easy. Its three rusted bolts said to me, “Get the saw out because we’re not budging.” I obliged, but not before having to remove the whole unit from the floor, something that usually isn’t needed for the rebuild process. I cleaned up the corrosion left from the rusty bolts and put the thing all back together. Proud of my accomplishment, I turned the newly replaced wall valve to the “on” position, looking for leaks and expecting none. But leak it did. Drip, drip, drip at the back. Tighten the bolts: that ought to do it. Nope. Tighten more. Nope. Turn those three nuts loose, pull out the bolts, and use three new rubber washers. Nope, still leaking. Pull it apart again, use some sealant on the bolt threads. Nope. Drip, drip, drip.
I actually can’t remember how many times I took it apart. It was four at least. Equanimity—that’s the word I hope describes me in every situation possible at work or at home or wherever. On the outside I hoped I was looking calm, but inside I was wondering if this thing was fixable. Then I realized I had not tried to further tighten the large flange nut. That did the trick. Dry porcelain never looked so good.
I always go into a project knowing it will probably take more time than it ought to. But as the clock ticks away and I am still scratching my head, it can be annoying. When it’s done, however, the payoff isn’t just the paycheck. When I expend effort on something that is broken and useless, my goal is restoration—making it perform as designed. Satisfaction at work comes in many forms. Working to transform a physical object is satisfying, but the process doesn’t always go as planned and roadblocks can lead the worker to wonder if he will ever resolve the issue.
Perhaps that’s a bit like our lives in general when it seems impossible to tighten things up. The drip, drip of problems never stop despite wrenching the nut tighter. Yet followers of Jesus can be calm in their hearts because of the peace of God which He gives to those He is transforming day by day. In fact, we can rejoice despite the drips: “And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope” (Romans 5:3,4).
I expect that one of my next projects will involve some seemingly unsolvable issue, but I’m not sure if I will be prepared to rejoice about it as it unfolds. I think I need to memorize Romans 5:3,4 because time spent at work—even time that seems to be wasted on maddening drips—will take on the aura of purpose and lead to my benefit, endurance, character, and hope rather than being just some annoyance in my day.
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Each Thursday we send out our Training Resources Newsletter, which shares a new ministry tool and an encouraging story about God’s Spirit preparing someone for service.