Many hands make light work, so the phrase goes. Do you know what book of the Bible that line comes from? You’re are all correct…it’s not in the Bible (and I’m assuming you all knew that). The phrase comes from feudal England. A Sir Bevis of Hampton reportedly made the comment in the mid 1300’s. So that you know, I fact checked Sir Bevis of Hampton to make sure his friend and confidant was not Sir Butthead of Highland, Texas. He’s legit. So is his proverb.
Last night Harrison and I put together a weightlifting bench recently purchased on the internet. I can’t tell you how many pieces of furniture I have put together in my life. I take a twisted satisfaction out of the process. Pulling the unnumbered, unnamed pieces out of a box and trying to match them to the picture is an entirely different kind of puzzle.
This puzzle required screwdrivers, an adjustable wrench, and a rubber mallet. We never figured out what the rubber mallet could have been used for, but we were glad that we didn’t need it—because we don’t have one. Harrison and I approach projects like this equally—follow the directions.
The directions for this apparatus clearly stated in 4 four consecutive steps to insert the proper screws in the proper locations, but not lock the locking nuts. The instructions stated DO NOT LOCK THE LOCKING NUTS in bold all caps. These are serious instructions to use bold all caps. So, we followed the directions. We inserted, threaded, and set up a very rickety weight bench until the final step…TIGHTEN ALL LOCKING NUTS. I know many of you thought I was going to tell you that we messed up the directions and created some modern art sculpture in the living room at 9:30 at night, but we didn’t. It looked right. It sounded right. And as of this afternoon it performed admirably.
When we got to the last step…tighten all locking nuts, we struggled. It was difficult to tighten around the corners that we just created. I was in a rush. I suggested that it would go faster if we each had our own wrench and pliers and tightened said locking nuts individually. We struggled. Finally, I suggested that Harrison hold one end of the bolt with the wrench while I twist the other end with the pliers. This worked exceptionally well.
We…I…was raised to appreciate haste. Food service thrives on speed. Ministry…at times…requires rapidity and dexterity, if not physically, theologically. Wasted time, wasted effort, wasted opportunity lead to waste. Four hands with four tools should certainly be better than four hands and two tools. Henry Ford didn’t master the concept of the assembly line with idle workers and idle hands and idle tools.
But last night we finished the project each with our own tool, each with our responsibility, each with our own perspective and we were BETTER than when were trying to do things individually.
Many hands make light work.
I forget this very simple, very important lesson. This is not out of pride or the desire to micromanage something (the name of my upcoming book will be “Micromismanagement: How To Fail at Ministry Without Even Trying”)(I know, great title, right). The simple lesson is this…we are constantly surrounded by people that can make our work lighter. We have families, communities, co-workers, friends, and allies who all want to make our lives lighter. We have many hands to support us, console us, correct us, and empower us.
These days could be so much lighter, if only we would trust the hands around us.
I love you.
I need you.
I hope for you.
Please be safe.