I love theology and books. I love preaching and writing. And I love leading and ministering to people. But I also like working with my hands. Normally those things don’t go together. You have the professionals (doctors, lawyers and engineers), the administrators, teachers and social services personal, and then you have the tradesmen and labourers. Sometimes you get a combination of two of those, but not often all three. Perhaps that’s why many are surprised when they find out their Pastor was a Fitter-Turner. The intellectuals wonder how I got the job. The plumbers and mechanics think it’s great: finally they have someone who can understand them.
It’s a duplicity (“complexity” might be a better word) that’s been with me since I was young and it frustrated me no end when trying to choose a career path. There seemed only two options open to me – university or trade school. I didn’t fancy a desk job all my life, nor did I want to be stuck behind a lathe in pair overalls. I learned that it didn’t really matter. I took the Fitting & Turning job and studied physics and engineering in my spare time. My hands got dirty during the day and my mind got a work-out at night. My dream job was to be a design engineer who could also make the things he put on paper.
Now I’m a Pastor (God has the last laugh). It’s not always easy work. Sermon preparation can be both exhausting and gruelling. Leading can be difficult (look at Moses). And not all people can be (or want to be) fixed. If I’m not careful the whole thing can do my head in. I need an outlet. Sometimes I get on my mountain bike and escape into the hills. Other times I want to get behind a workbench with my tools and have a play.
That’s where my new friend Peter Field comes into the picture. You see, when we made the move to Nelson I had to leave my old workbench behind. It wouldn’t fit in the Furniture Truck. So, for the past 18 months, my tools have been stashed in boxes from one end of the garage to the other. And every time I go to fix something, I have to go rifling through boxes trying to find the right thing I need. Then, even when I do find it, I have no vice to hold it or any bench to work on. It’s an engineer’s nightmare.
Peter is a retired wood-worker. He can make anything. When I told I’m desperate for a workbench, he said “not a problem.” And it wasn’t. I picked it up last Saturday. Isn’t it a beauty? It’s a sight for a sore engineer-turned pastor’s eyes. Now, when I want to fix something, I know exactly where the right tool is. And I have a place to fix it! So, thanks Peter Field, for making my year 🙂
Footnote: After writing this past the thought occured to me that Jesus was a carpenter. And he was a scholar (he ran rings around the religious leaders of his day). He was also wonderful with people. So I guess he’s my perfect model!