Mark Kelly

Stories of faith and life

Tools

Have you ever tried changing the fuse in a plug by first trying to unscrew the central screw with a knife? I’m not talking a steak or bread knife, just a dull kitchen drawer knife.

I bet most of us have. I’ve tried unscrewing any number of things using the tip of a knife. I have only ever really found it to work best trying to change plug fuses.

I bet you’re asking, “Mark, why don’t you just use a screwdriver?” And that, my friends, is an excellent question. And the answer, to a degree, is laziness. My toolbox is generally stored in our utility room, and over a very short amount of time, it gets stuff stored on top of it. It becomes a pain to dig out and, well, the knife drawer is easier to reach!

On the occasion where I’ve needed to do a bit more DIY, I’ve have taken the time to dig out the toolbox, and boom, I’m ready! Using my electric screwdriver (of course I’ve got one of those), which is quite powerful. I proceed to unscrew something that’s been holding up whatever it’s been holding for years. In cases like this, you need to push a little harder to get it turning. However, in this instance, I use the wrong screw bit, it’s a little bigger than it needs to be for the screw. The screw’s old, and before I know it, I’ve somehow managed to wear away the pattern in the screw head, and my screwdriver is just turning, and turning … and turning.

In both of these cases, it’s plain to see, I’ve used the wrong tool for the job and made it somewhat harder for myself. The screw that’s worn away, in particular, has gone from a 15-second job to one that needs a drill, a drill bit, and smaller screw to go into the bigger screw … you get the idea! I should have just worked things out properly in the first place.

I reckon I’m not the only one to try and use a tool for a job for which it is highly inadequate. And when the father-in-law shows up with his massive tool bag of all sorts that’s been curated over decades and helps you finish the job in minutes, you can feel a little silly. (I’m not even joking about my father-in-law. He’s got an impressive collection of tools and pieces of equipment that would blow your DIY mind!)

In our lives, some things would be a lot easier if we simply found the correct tool for the job in hand. I’m not really talking about tools anymore.

How often have you taken the wrong idea or lousy attitude into a meeting at work, a position that really doesn’t help forward the discussion or bring resolution to a decision? Maybe you need to use the tool of understanding.

If you have to prepare for an exam or an assessment, have you used the tool of discipline to help you get to revise and organise yourself?

Where is the tool of peaceful thinking and patience when dealing with badly behaved children? Children who’ve had a tough day at school and they’re lashing out to those who they’re pretty sure won’t lash back, because you’re their safe place to vent.

Sometimes life feels like a battle, and we need some wisdom to help us get adequately equipped to deal with whatever skirmish we’re experiencing. The Bible helps us deal with this by encouraging us to wear a belt of truth – a tool belt, if you like, from which other tools hang – like patience, wisdom, and self-control. It mentions wearing holiness as armour that can protect our heart, in other words, how we think and the attitude we take in dealing with others. This helps keep us in a good place, one of love and acceptance. When we’re alert to how we’re responding in any less-than-ideal scenario, we can bring peace to that environment, by using the tools of understanding and kindness.

In the practicalities of life, as in real DIY, let me encourage you to use the correct tool for the job and save yourself some time and a lot of hassle. But also bring those tools I’ve just mentioned to your attitude and response to people and circumstances.

Where in your life can you identify where you’ve been trying to change that metaphorical plug with a drawer knife? Or where you’ve worn away the imaginary screw head and made things so much harder than they needed to be?

There’s always time to put the wrong tool down and pick the right one up. It’s never too late.

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