One of the great joys over the last month has been devoting a fair amount of my free time to building a playhouse for my daughter, Maria. Inspired to make use of some old windows found in the attic of our home, this project has been on my mind for about three years. Last December I realized that Maria, now ten years old, will be too old for a playhouse if I procrastinate any longer, so I jumped when I found the opportunity. What I needed was help, courage to begin, and I found both in a renewed friendship with a master builder, Jerry Huddleston.
Jerry and I reconnected on the building team for our daughters’ Christmas musical at Trinity Church. Through a good turn of circumstances for me, Jerry had a work project that stalled and was free to help when I asked him. So I took a day off from work and spent from sunrise to sunset with him getting the project underway. I wanted to learn how to frame a floor, walls, rafters, windows and doors and do it all to code, in essence building a mini-house. I could never match the experience I have had working with Jerry. Learning how to do things right and in a timely manner is one thing. Enjoying the time building a friendship, even better.
In our do-it-yourself society, I could have watched YouTube videos and probably figured it out on my own, but I’ll guarantee two things. It would never have turned out so well and the time it would have taken me to figure things out by trial and error may have discouraged me to the point of not completing the project. Worse yet I could have made a fatal mistake along the way that would cause the whole thing to collapse before I ever finished. (Like not putting diagonal braces on the walls until I put the siding on.)
When it comes to learning how to do something well, I find myself wondering why I don’t ask for help more often. Could pride be the prevailing issue, a fear of revealing an inadequacy or area of weakness? Building a playhouse is one thing, but building a marriage, a family, a career and most importantly a relationship with the Lord is on a whole different level. Yet, if you’re at all like me, I tend take those most important tasks and roles in my life and settle for a do-it-yourself mentality. Not only do I suffer, but cause those I lead to suffer as a result of my mistakes along the way.
I’m learning that a major component of leadership is putting myself in an apprentice role and finding a master to teach me the ropes. If this is to happen, I must humble myself and ask for help. We all need heroes, mentors and coaches and perhaps the key to a life of impact is in realizing this and going after it as if it matters most, and for the things that matter most.
I can’t wait for Saturday when Jerry will teach me how to install the drip edge and roof shingles on my little house. I think I’m going to ask him for some parenting tips as well.