Having The Right Tools
When I was about 12 years old, my father took me to a hardware store to buy my first set of real tools. Among the first items I acquired were needle-nose pliers. They came with a lecture from my dad that he had already given me many times about the importance of having good tools, knowing how to use them, and taking care of them. He always concluded with the admonition, “Take care of your tools and they will take care of you.”
My father had been a mechanic, but by this point in his life he had become an auctioneer. His main tool was a microphone, a heavily chromed Electro-Voice 635 that he carried in a cloth bag. It was as valuable for him then as a screwdriver or wrench had been during his earlier vocational pursuits.
When I enrolled in college in 1966, I engraved my initials, “jdm,” on each of my tools so they would not be misappropriated by someone who did not respect another person’s tools. I still use many of these same tools almost every day. As you might conclude, I learned the lessons my father taught me very well.
Today, as a professional photographer, my primary tools are Pentax digital cameras and Adobe Photoshop. I chose Pentax because of their straight-forward design and reputation for durability. Photoshop is my software of choice because there is nothing that even comes close to its capacity for enhancing and modifying photographs both old and new. Similar to hammers, saws and many other tools, I have learned how to evaluate cameras and computer “tools” for the work I need to do and have diligently sought to understand how to use them properly.
As my father taught me, respecting tools, having good tools, and acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to use them is a key to success in any field. Through the years I have discovered these principles apply to our spiritual lives as well.
For the follower of Jesus Christ in the 21st century workplace, the Bible can be – and should be – as valuable a tool as any manual, sales presentation, budget, website or other resource you use during the course of a typical day. The Scriptures provide limitless guidance and instruction on topics ranging from ethics and integrity to communications to personnel management to decision making. Consider the following:
A guide for success. By learning and striving to apply biblical principles – at work as well as in our personal life – we discover timeless, proven principles for successful living. “Do not let this Book of the Law (the Scriptures) depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8).
A multi-purpose resource. One of the most important claims of the Bible is that it is inspired by God – that guiding the writers of its various books, God presented His truths for all mankind to follow in every aspect of their lives. It has value for instruction, pointing out wrong behavior, helping people make necessary changes in life, and to showing them how to experience productive, meaningful lives. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Jim Mathis is the owner of a photography studio in Overland Park, Kansas, specializing in executive, commercial and theatrical portraits, and operates a school of photography. Jim is the author of High Performance Cameras for Ordinary People, a book on digital photography. He formerly was a coffee shop manager and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.
1. What are the most valuable tools in your possession? Do you know how to properly use them and care for them to ensure they remain useful? Explain your answer.
2. What does the statement, “Take care of your tools and they will take care of you,” mean to you? Do you agree with it? Why or why not?
3. The writer of this “Monday Manna” states his belief that the Bible is a tool, one that is very useful for every aspect of daily life – including the workplace. Do you agree with that assessment? If so, in what ways do you see that being put into practice?
4. Looking at the passage from the Bible, Joshua 1:8, what is your understanding of how it defines “success”? How does that meaning compare with the way we typically use that term in the business and professional world of the 21st century?
If you would like to look at or discuss other portions of the Bible that relate to this topic, consider the following brief sampling of passages:
Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Psalm 1:1-3, 119:9-11; Proverbs 1:7; Hebrews 4:12; 1 John 1:1-7