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Master Plumbers

Posted by Tom Hallman at May 20, 2009 02:15 PM |

Sometimes inspirations for ministry come from places you don't expect.  Let me share with you how a plumber inspired me just today.

My wife and I recently moved into a new home, and as such things tend to go, we've rapidly developed a list of things that need to get fixed. On that list were about half a dozen plumbing-related issues.  After a couple unsuccessful attempts at "doing it myself", I recognized my limits and reached for the phone.

A couple days later, a highly-recommended local plumber named Robin showed up at my door. He patiently followed me around from room to room as I showed him my leaking kitchen faucet, my oft-unflushable toilet, my other cracked toilet, my duct-taped bathtub drain stopper contraption, my leaking water heater, and more. He humbly nodded as I explained to him what I suspected to be the problem in each case.

Then, armed only with a flashlight and many invaluable years of experience, Robin looked in, around, under and seemingly through each of the failing components I'd enumerated. Here and there he'd ask questions about this or that, often seeking to confirm that he'd understood my complaint correctly. He also asked me questions about things that, from as far as I could tell, had little to do with the problem at hand. Yet I suspect that somehow, in his gargantuan mental database, he was putting pieces of data together in logical and creative ways so quickly that Google itself would be left dazed.

Robin then began explaining what would be required in each case to fix the problem, including time estimates (best, worst and likely cases) and cost of parts, should they need to be replaced. I can't be certain, but I remember thinking that I could detect an almost apologetic tone as he laid out the final costs. It was almost that he felt bad for even charging me at all! 

As I drove to the DiscipleMakers HQ a few minutes later, it occurred to me that Robin is in many ways just the kind of plumber that I want to be as a member of the DM Systems DepartmentIn fact, if you've ever tried helping someone with their computer, you can probably relate uncannily well to Robin's experience with his "user" today.

Moreover, God used Robin's humble attitude to convict me.   How do I respond when friends or coworkers bring their list of computer problems?  Or when they suggest to me how to fix it?  Do I listen well and try to understand their concerns, or do I see them as distractions from getting the "real work" done?

These are topics that we encounter and talk about regularly on the Systems Department, because we have a higher calling than even your average system administrator: we're not just representing ourselves or our organization, but the Lord of Hosts Himself. He has called us to love our users as we love ourselves. Moreover, our calling is not simply to sell a service or debug a script or fix a pipe, but to call other sinners like us to the wondrous glory of knowing Christ and His gospel!

And we praise the Lord that we needn't ever feel that guilt-like tension that Robin does – that which exists between fixing something for free (because we can) and getting paid hourly (because we need to pay the bills). DM has each of its missionaries – whether they'll be on campus or behind the scenes – raise their full financial support before they even get on the field. We needn't ever see our "users", whether Staff or student, as people who might be able to help financially – because we have a full team of supporters regularly paying our bills for us. Wouldn't you like to have a plumber in that position?

May the Lord continue to make us into His master plumbers!

And may there be no leaks under my sink when I get home today.

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