Last November I found myself in a church library waiting for an event to start. Being a curious soul I started to review the collection of books and eventually found myself draw to an old book that was a collection of poems. I noted several of these pieces and stored those away.
For months I didn’t think about them at all, but last month I rediscovered the selections and since that time this particular one continues to surface in the front of my mind. It’s called Three Builders. You have probably heard it before. This version is told like this:
“What are you doing?” a man asked of three laborers beside a building under construction.
The first man replied “Stone-cuttin’.”
The second smiled, “Puttin’ in time –until a better job comes along.”
The third man waited a moment and then said simply, “I’m building a cathedral!”
Sometimes when I go to work, I forgot that I’m there to build big things – like a cathedral. It’s so easy to get caught up in the mundane, the chaotic, the trivial and the political mumbo jumbo and develop a view that I am just there to cut stone or to put in time. Instead, I long that my days are filled with thoughts of creating and building big things. I love those big transformational project with incredible vision and earth changing direction, and I have been fortunate enough to be a part of many of those in my working days.
But really most days, I do look at work more than work, but as steps on the way to building a masterpiece. A masterpiece that should have lasting value. I am reminded of the one thing I think about when I think about my father-in-law. Well, maybe one of four things! Early in my career, he pointed me to this quote, and it has impacted my work days, and my personal life ever since.
Therefore, when we build, let us think that we build for ever. Let it not be for present delight, nor for present use alone; let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for, and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say as they look upon the labour and wrought substance of them, ” See! this our fathers did for us. – John Ruskin
I thought about these thoughts when I built my house. I kept this quote on my cube wall and thought about it everyday back when I wrote code. (Interesting enough, there’s still code I wrote 20 years ago that is still running!) I still think about ‘buiding forever’ and future generations saying ‘our fathers did for us’ when I work even today. I think that is why the Three Builders story spoke so loudly to me.
All of this applies to more than just physical work. It also applies to our responsibilities to impact people in a way that they are changed forever, and that future generations are glad they were changed. It’s in building relationships, treating others with respect, making the other’s day better and pushing others to find more in themselves. Those construction activities bring glory to the Creator and can impact the lives of others for forever.
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Let us always build big and build for the future in everything we do.