I recently stopped to watch my 17-year-old and 15-year-old sons strip apart some bikes to fix brake and sprocket issues.
Ball bearings were rolling across the floor as one leaned down to grab them. And later, inside, the other told me how some of the work had to be redone because, well, when they had finished, there were a few extra parts that shouldn’t have been extra.
But none of that fazed them. In fact, the smiles on their faces, along with the grease and grime on their hands, told me it had been a pretty good day.
I was amazed—and reveled in the fact—that my two sons aren’t afraid to take things apart to fix things themselves first. That they enjoyed working together unsure what the result would be. But I also wondered where that desire in them had originated.
So I sat down with them to discuss. However, as is often the case with youth, when you’re in the moment, it’s hard to say what makes you do anything! So here are my realizations with their input:
First, we agreed, that when you live for daily bread (as we’re called to do), you don’t always have money readily available to have things fixed. This is true more than ever in my household, as we continue in full-time ministry while also making a go of it on the farm. Our financial circumstances make it tough to call anyone for assistance, and with this in mind, we more and more find ourselves thinking, “Well, how much more can we break it if it’s already broken? We each have two hands and a few tools.”
Second, I think we’ve come to value more and more, the ability to fix things ourselves. Farm work has required it of us, because who really hires someone to build a chicken coop for them? That’s not farming as I know it. No, farmers do things themselves as much as they can, and some of the things that need fixing on a farm there just isn’t anybody who will do it. When what you’ve pieced together to irrigate the corn and pumpkins doesn’t work, what choice do you have but to fix it yourselves?
Third, as we’ve muddled our way through larger and larger household and farm projects, we’ve realized that we really do like working together. It’s been a joy to have my children assist me, no matter their ages or capabilities. What I hope this teaches them is that they shouldn’t be afraid of getting dirty or messing up or even possibly failing. At this point, my older boys have worked so much by my side, that I often ask for their advice on a best next step. It shows that I value their ability as they grow older, that I recognize that they are slowly becoming men and some day will likely have their own families.
A father who works with his boys, learning and laughing together, is what I think God intends, but many fathers are too busy earning a living to raise their sons. I was one of those dads once, and it’s not that I never loved my children during those days, but I spent far less time with them.
I feel so blessed to be able to have the time—have to make the time—to tackle work as a family, so that each of us knows that the part we’ve played has helped the other. I want to inspire them to be who God created them to be, and the best way to do that is to have them by my side.
So I’m not wishing for anything else to break, but my boys assure me that something will soon enough. And I’m ready for it, as are my sons.