Thankful for my incompetence.

May 27, 2011

I remember, decades ago, spending a weekend working on my car, only to have it towed to my mechanic on Monday morning, where he fixed the original problem, then he fixed all the stuff I had messed up, and he still had it back to me by noon.  One time, I jacked my car up to work on the brakes (same car) and the car folded itself over onto the jack – the frame was rusted through right at the jack-point.  I pretty much stopped working on cars then.

Until this week.  Since I am not currently in a position to pay someone else to do the repairs, I am, once again trying to repair my own vehicle.  I get sweaty just walking outside.

When it comes to tasks for which I am not made, auto repair ranks as the highest frustration level, with the lowest competency level of anything I have ever done, or tried to do.  Learning Russian is easier for me, even Greek.  My mechanical skills are so finely tuned, that I once took a class in bicycle repair, and the teacher laughed at me.  Repeatedly.

There are things that I am good at, some things I am very good at.  They just aren’t presenting themselves to me right now.  Asking for my undivided attention is an exhaust system that will wake anyone within three square miles of my house.

But, if the driveway dries up even a little, tomorrow I will once again crawl onto my back for a bit of self-humiliation – which is just a shade better than being humiliated by someone else.  Of course that just might happen too; Diane could always come outside and say, “let me do that for you.”  And she probably could! 

I’ve heard Andy Stanley say, in relation to ministry, that we should only do what we do best, and leave the rest for those who do other things better than we do.  I tend to embrace this philosophy in ministry because it empowers so many people.  But at home, I think it is a different story.  Sometimes our choices are limited.  I suppose if I were working…wait, I know if I were working, I would pay someone else to work on my car, but for now I get to work on developing my patience, my ability to express frustration at something rather than at someone,  without using bad words.  I may even learn something along the way.  But I doubt it.  I don’t want to learn about car repair.  Maybe guitar repair, OK?  My guitar won’t fall on me and crush my sternum if I make a mistake.

By the time you read this, the car will be repaired, so this is not a play for sympathy or help.  But it is a reminder that whenever you can, do what you love.  There was a book titled Do What You Love And The Money Will Follow that was popular a few decades agoI may or may not ascribe to that theory, but the things you love, you do best, so it pleases God, and it pleases others too.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t learn a new skill or ever try anything new.  Learning is fun.  And one of the benefits of learning is that you discover your gifts and graces.  Work within them.  If you love to mow, mow your neighbor’s yard as a gift, a blessing to them.  If you hate to mow, bless a teen and let him (or her) mow your lawn for a few bucks, so you can do what you love, and make everybody happy.

I am thankful for my incompetence.  I reminds me to focus on what I can do.  It creates gratitude towards those who work hard at something I really don’t like, at least in part so I don’t have  to like it.  It reminds me that God has no areas of incompetence.

He does all things well.


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