FIX THE PROBLEM
I have this lawn mower I bought 27 years ago. It has served me very well. Last year it developed a hole in the deck of the mower that allowed debris to shoot up at my face as I pushed the mower across the grass. I couldn’t just ignore the problem. There was a serious risk something would shoot up and hit me in the eye, which is never a smart move. The dilemma was how to fix the hole in the deck cheaply, quickly, and efficiently, in a way that would seal the hole. My solution? I used a piece of black, pliable foam from old pipe insulation that I cut and pinched. I inserted it in the opening, allowing it to expand on either side of the hole sealing it off. It’s a substance that will not rust or shoot out of the hole itself and hurt me. It has been working fantastically this entire mowing season.
I have this old elliptical trainer in my garage. I use it every day. One of the foot pads has come loose on the right side, making the foot pad wobble a bit as I use it. I knew I didn’t want to buy a new elliptical, but if I didn’t find a way to solve it, eventually it would break off. Having no drill, I simply took a Swiss Army knife, using the awl tool, I drilled a small hole in the plastic foot pad, inserted two strong nylon zip ties, wrapped it through and around the supporting bar, and voilà, all snug and tight. It works great!
These simple examples illustrate something vitally important in life. We need to be men who fix the problems we are faced with in our lives, when it’s within our power to fix them. Neglecting to fix the problems in our lives only leads to greater pain, stress, frustration, and often becomes very expensive. I had a friend who had been hearing a noise repeatedly from the front of his car whenever he braked. He simply ignored it. One day while driving down the highway, one of the front wheel ball joints broke, and the whole wheel dropped off! Fortunately he was ok, and it wasn’t his wife and kids driving the car at the time.
This is what Proverbs means when it says “the hand of the diligent will prosper, the negligent hand will suffer!”
This principle is absolutely essential to our lives, our leadership, and our well being. We need to be men who can identify a problem, then craft a solution and fix it. That’s what it means to take responsibility, to lead.
Many years ago, I found myself frustrated and stressed that even though I made a budget, there were miscellaneous items that my wife found reasons to spend on each month. They weren’t frivolous items that weren’t needed, but I didn’t have them formally in the budget. I also couldn’t keep track of them all. So I created a solution. I took out a certain amount of cash from my account each month, put that cash equally divided into 4 envelopes, one for each week and gave them to Kathy to use however she saw fit. I no longer worried about those items, or things she felt were needs. It solved the problem and alleviated a ton of frustration and stress that was coming between us.
In our early years of marriage, our intimate life was a real struggle. We each had different expectations, and never quite seemed to be on the same page. It was a source of much stress and conflict. Little by little we made some progress. But what made the real difference was this. We made a plan, we scheduled our intimacy, choosing in advance the times of the week this would occur, rather than deciding how we felt at the moment. She stuck to it, I stuck to it, and it has worked wonders now for decades. This gave her time to prepare her heart, her attitude and her spirit, and it helped me know this vital issue would not be neglected nor the goal posts constantly moved and changed. Wives, remember your man cannot obey Proverbs 5 if he does not have access to you and your body!
I knew my mouth was a problem. My emotions could get the best of me, and I would react and respond in ways that were detrimental to my relationship with my wife. Obviously, I will never attain perfection with my tongue. That’s impossible. But I could make progress and improve. I admit it was very discouraging at times, as I felt like such a failure. But I knew I needed to grow and change, or I would continue to do harm to our relationship. I took my Living Proverbs, and underlined every verse on the tongue, words, and wise speech. I took time to really think about them and what they meant. I began to pray over this area, earnestly asking God to help me, to change me and make me a man of wise speech. One of the great lessons of my life was just learning to shut up!! To keep my mouth closed. To learn to overlook what I perceived to be an insult. I learned to calm myself, to step away from the argument, or go for a prayer walk, and talk it over honestly with God. He could handle all my venting and my anger, and little by little, God brought about real, genuine change and progress in my life in this area. Not perfection, but genuine, significant progress.
I diligently fix what I can, accept what I can’t and leave the rest to God!
Helping you become a Strong Disciple,
Because of Jesus,
Pastor Mark Darling