We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine

The Stick-Crafter

What would you do if you returned home from war wounded, orphaned, and unsure how you could earn a living? I recently read of a man who faced just this situation–and “his wounds rendered all severe labor impossible.” (The Little Lamb, p. 115) What was he to do?

In Christoph von Schmid’s short story, The Redbreast, we are told that this soldier determined the following solution to his dilemma:

“One day, in the neighboring forest, he remarked that the old stumps and roots of the maple-trees that had been cut down presented some very beautiful pieces of streaked and variegated wood, but were little esteemed and rotting on the ground. He immediately set to work to make walking sticks and gift boxes out of this wood, and soon brought them to extraordinary perfection; the walking sticks . . . were especially admired, and met with a rapid sale.” (p. 116)

What an incredible testimony to this man’s work ethic and creativity that he would take sticks which would ordinarily be left to rot and turn them into walking sticks for “gentlemen of high station!” (p. 116)

We live in an economy where many are struggling. Perhaps we should begin to prayerfully consider how we can exercise skills that God has given us as gifts. Truly, “in all labor there is profit” (Proverbs 14:23b) and “whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” (Proverbs 13:11b)

In closing, I believe the stick-crafter’s words will end this moment on an encouraging note: “He who is not wanting in industry . . . will never want for bread. Even the most insignificant craft can support a man. Do your duty faithfully, and trust in God, and God will do His part, and will not permit you to lack His aid, which is so necessary.” (p. 117-118)

Published in: on September 18, 2010 at 2:27 am  Leave a Comment  

Wisdom Training

The word skill in the Hebrew tongue carries the idea of wisdom. As one of my seminary professors coined it, “Wisdom is negotiating life skillfully.” We certainly live in a day when a high level of skill is needed.

Throughout history, those who acquired a mastery level of skill were looked up to by society and sought after for their services or crafts. Prior to the nineteen hundreds, the older were committed to passing down knowledge and skill to the younger. Churches had not yet begun to segregate age groups and youth watched, listened and learned from those who had wisdom to share. Unfortunately, today there is a lack of wisdom as young people have few role models to follow.

Children who didn’t follow their father’s trade were trained through apprenticeship programs. They sacrificed the comfort of their own homes, worked extremely hard, and were paid little, if any at all. The reward of their sacrifice, however, prepared them to live life skillfully and attractively. I say attractively because when one has acquired a mastery level of skill, others appreciate and admire a job well done.
We live at a time when learning is primarily focused on providing as much cognitive education as possible. Even Christian education lacks much in the area of “wisdom training.” We have modified the public educational approach, substituting secular reading with Christian textbooks. We are preparing our young people to enter college, but not to live life skillfully. That is not wisdom. Young people need to graduate from high school with an eye toward developing that mastery skill with which God has particularly gifted them.

“Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” (Proverbs 22:29)

Published in: on September 18, 2010 at 2:26 am  Leave a Comment