I grew up with a dad, brother, family and friends who could build a house from the ground up, fix any problem with their cars, or feed their family by simply living off of the land. Needless to say, these things became part of my expectations for what it means to be a man.
Unfortunately for me, I have to admit that I’m not much of a handyman.
I didn’t really grasp this until I bought my first home, which was built in 1900, and attempted to completely remodel it: putting in a new bathroom, changing a closet into a utility room, redoing the kitchen, turning a small closet into a walk-in, etc. (You know, the small and simple projects!)
Well, I didn’t have the necessary skills (which leads me to wonder why I bought a fixer-upper), so I had to call in the expert: my dad. He used to build custom homes, knows all about electrical, plumbing, carpentry and pretty much everything about everything else. Although it all went well and the projects were all completed, I really struggled asking for help.
Even though I knew I couldn’t do everything myself and desperately needed help if we were going to buy the house, I still felt like a failure. I thought that any “real man” could just pull up his boot straps and get it done alone. I know deep down that this isn’t really true for me or for many other men, but I still felt that way, and it really affected me.
So, why I am talking about this now? We just moved into a house that is also in need of some updating. The new to-do list isn’t nearly as extensive or intensive as with our previous home, but it does include some projects that I need some help with. So I made the same call to my dad and he’s coming out to help for a week.
When I tell people he’s coming, they always say, “Wow, that’s really cool that your dad is going to help you with your house.” I correct them, though, making sure they know that I’m helping him with my house.
See, 10 years later, I am actually much more comfortable with what I can and can’t do, who I am and who I’m not, where I succeed and where I struggle. I’ve come a long way, sure, but I sometimes still feel like a failure, or that I’m not good enough.
These feelings pop up not only when it comes to home repair, but also in my life as a father. I play the comparison game with other dads; I focus only on my failures and inadequacies; I constantly question my effectiveness as a parent; and on and on it goes.
How about you? Where do these struggles show up in your life? You may be a home-repair expert, but lack other skills that you think you should have mastered. What or who do you compare yourself to? How about as a dad? What are the lies you believe?
Through all of this, we want you to be encouraged! We know you’re working hard and doing everything you can to love your kids and be a great father. I’m right there with you, struggling every day to do this well. As dads, we simply need to purse excellence … not perfection.
Nor complete mastery of all handyman duties.
This post was written by Jackson Dunn.
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