August 6, 2013 at 6:24 am, by Carl

A few weeks ago, we had some slight repair work done inside the house.  It was fairly simple “punch out” work from our expansion that we completed last fall.  So, to get it done, the supervisor Sonny was called by my wife, and of course he came by.  When he did come by, he had his 23 year old son in tow.


As we chatted after the day was over, I inquired what his plans were.  Was he merely spending the summer with Dad?  He had not been around that I remember the year before. I had previously told the son of how I had spent two summers with my father when he attempted to created his own electrician side business.  We did various jobs around our home in East Tennessee; I’m sure I was of no real help, but it certainly gave me an appreciation of hard work.  I also grew to understand just how hot an attic can get.


The young man informed that he was actually beginning the journey of entering the work-world of his father…construction.  Ah, I said, well, in that case, “you have a wonderful teacher as long as you are willing to put in the effort.”  Having watched his father, Sonny, work around our house for months, I knew that the man had a deep intelligence in almost all phases of the work of construction.  Having spent four more years in the construction world, back when I was starting my Christian ministry, Numinous, I had met a few other experts, true Mozarts of their field.  These men have a deep brilliance in the realm of working with their hands, something so often dismissed or discounted by those in our country seem to think only a person with an official “college” degree has any value.


But, I warned the young man, that this was no easy road.  There is simply no way to sit in a classroom for a year or follow his father around for a year, and then somehow have the expertise that the veteran worker does.  Happily, the young man suggested that he knew that.  So, then I pushed him deeper, to the place that I want you to go now as well.


See, many will admit that they realize it will take hard work to get to the success that they wish.  I believe many of them, though I know that they also really don’t know just how hard it will be.  I hope they are ready.  However, there is another skill that is as critical as gaining the skills over the year.


It is this rare thing of which I spoke to the young man.  Historically, what is valuable is the rare thing.  Once upon a time, salt was rare, and in a pre-electricity time, one of the best ways to preserve food.  Wars were fought over the stuff we now have in abundance, sitting casually in our kitchens.   Diamonds, Plutonium, even the skill of reading are things that have been rare, thus highly valued.


Today, what is rare are the attributes of being trustworthy, of being someone whose word is good.  There are certainly a few other traits that are equally rare today, but this one, this thing of actually doing what you said, of being present, of being devoted and consistent—-this is so rare today.  Over and over again, I hear stories of businesses, both in the basic consumer world and in the service quadrant, simply failing to be consistent.   You’ll put in a phone call trying to schedule an appointment and never hear back.   You’ll email the banker asking for the information about your mortgage and never get a reply.  You’ll try to get information, help, from your college professor and they won’t reply for days on end.  A home improvement company will start a job and then vanish.


So, I told the young man what I want you to hear—decide to invest your life in cultivating these rare skills.  If you do, then just like his dad, he will be someone that people like me will call, again and again.  My wife and I will call Sonny because we know he has that rare skill, at least rare in today’s America, to actually respond, to do the work when he says he will do, and care enough about his craft to do it well.


If you, and if this young man, will spend his life building that skill, then he will always be valued, and thus always desired by a paying public.  Better, he will become a good man…then kind of men and women that built this country.  We certainly need more people like that again.