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I Yam What I Yam
By: Doug Bittinger - January 18, 2009

The cartoon character Popeye used to say (maybe he still does) “I am what I am and that’s all what I am.” except he said it with his odd accent that made it sound like he was referring to himself as a sort of sweet potato.  His words were brought to mind by a note I received this morning from the client for whom we are building several pieces of furniture, and she has been following along on our Daily Shop Notes blog.  She says:

… The incredible beauty of the bench takes our breath away.  It is so exciting to watch the tenderness, thought and care you put into each move you make.  How different this is than buying a finished piece (and always wondering about the level of quality that went into construction) or worse yet - buying a piece made of particle board and having to put it together with no skills whatsoever.

It is so difficult to fathom the care you put into each piece you make for people you have never even met before.

I always believe that those who are happiest in life are those who have found and followed God's calling for them.  God gave you such a unique gift, and you use it to His glory for each person fortunate enough to find you.  I am glad that we are among those so blessed!


We often receive comments about how much people enjoyed watching their piece of furniture being created, how it gave them a special appreciation for the care that goes into a piece of custom built furniture.  What had not occurred to me before is the idea that I might do anything less for a total stranger than I would for a close friend or family member.

I have always been committed to the idea that anything I do -- whether teaching a Sunday School class, building furniture, or raking leaves in the yard – should be done to the best of my ability.  Anything not worthy of my best, probably isn’t worth doing at all.  It’s never even been considered.

The other thought, one I’m very glad Carolyn mentioned, had to do with the way I spend my time.  I’ve been quite busy with my woodworking lately, so much so that I have not been putting much time into the community volunteer work that I have done in the past, and I have found myself wondering if my focus is in the right place.  Should I be refusing some jobs in order to have time to spend on church projects or working with community programs?  By becoming a woodworking troglodyte am I neglecting my responsibility to help in doing God’s work?

I have always freely acknowledged that any skills or abilities I have, woodworking or otherwise, are gifts from God and have endeavored to use them accordingly.  I do not have the skills needed to be an evangelist or preacher.  My skills suit me to be a behind-the-scenes, or support staff sort, not the front man.  I perform a number of services for our church, and the community, that help in their operation and offer resources without having to be “on stage” or for that matter even visible to anyone.  But I wonder if by spending the lion’s share of my waking hours squirreled away in my workshop building furniture I am making the best use of my time?  How does this serve God?  In doing so, am I merely serving myself?

But Carolyn’s note indicates that she, at least, sees God’s hand in the work that I do.  This morning I am finding a good deal of comfort in knowing this.

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