No One But You


August 01, 2015

N o one is going to grease your truck but you. They’ll say that they do it. They’ll even check the box on the little sheet of paper. They might grease a couple of places, but they won’t grease them all.”

So goes the brotherly advice I received from my big brother. He drives a Chevy pickup truck he bought new nearly 20 years ago. He may keep it forever, because they are not available with a manual transmission anymore.

He’s a mechanical engineer, and likes to do things himself. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and not blame it on the fact that he’s too cheap to pay anyone to do anything. Owning this truck is getting easier for him. The reason is that now that he’s north of 200,000 miles on the truck, the parts he replaced at just before 100,000 miles are now going out again. But now he’s experienced, so replacing the clutch, brakes, alternator, power steering pump, etc. is far easier this time around. Because he did the work himself, he learned a lot the first time. The second time around he didn’t have to consult manuals, message boards or YouTube videos, he already knew what he was doing.

Experience pays. If he was paying for these repairs at a dealership, the bills would quickly exceed the value of the truck. But by value-shopping for parts and doing the work himself, the repairs often cost less than a tank of gas. The same goes for his Camaro of similar vintage and mileage that sits in the garage next to his truck. He’s now replaced the power-window motor in one of the doors on the Camaro three times. He’s getting really good at it.

Collaboration is a critical part of almost every ministry. It’s one of the five expectations of the Missouri Conference. My brother wouldn’t argue against collaboration – he likes working with people, and he isn’t hesitant to seek information from others before he drops a transmission or replaces a transfer case. But he would also say that when it comes to getting things done, you sometimes need to take care of the details yourself, because the ultimate result of what needs to happen is more important to you than anyone else.

People finding the right balance between “I’ll do it myself” and counting on others is a common thread I see in all of the successful ministries I have the privilege of writing about. Behind every story in this issue, I can cite examples of people seeking help and offering help in a collaborative way, but there’s also the ever-present trait of people taking the time and initiative to take care of details on their own.

I’ll close with this tip: when the person at the quick lube service station says he greased the fittings on your Chevy 1500, you can ask how many he greased. The answer you’ll usually get back is four or six. The correct answer is 11. Sometimes you have to go ahead and get your hands dirty.