Monthly Archives: January 2007

Tool Time?

One of the blessings of being a pastor in the United Methodist Church is that there are trustees who help keep up the buildings… including the parsonage. You see, I’m not much of a fix-it kind of guy. In fact, in my first church, after seeing me trying to fix something, the trustee chair liked to joke with me that his trustees could handle just about anything… as long as they didn’t see the pastor with tools in his hands.

Again today that was evident. The trustees of this church were over here at the parsonage fixing a leak in the upstairs bathroom toilet. My entire contribution was to go downstairs at one point and turn the water main back on. (I did just fine, by the way!)

Anyway, it reminded me of the email I received the other day, so I share it with you my readers. From the sounds of it, I might not be the only guy who’s tool-usage impaired.
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Guide to Men’s Tools
1. DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatchingflat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chestand flings your beer across the room, splattering it against that freshlypainted part you were drying.
2. WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhereunder the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprintwhorls and hard-earned guitar calluses in about the time it takes you to say, “****!!!”
3. ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning pop rivets in theirholes until you die of old age.
4. PLIERS: Used to round off hexagonal bolt heads.
5. HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija boardprinciple: It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion,and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal yourfuture becomes.
6. VISE GRIP PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. If nothing else isavailable, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.
7. OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for setting variousflammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside a wheel hub you’re trying to getthe bearing race out of.
8. WHITWORTH SOCKETS: Once used for working on older British cars andmotorcycles, they are now used mainly for impersonating that 9/16 or 1/2″socket you’ve been searching for, for the last 15 minutes.
9. HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an automobile to the groundafter you have installed your new disk brake pads, trapping the jack handlefirmly under the bumper.
10. EIGHT-FOOT LONG DOUGLAS FIR 4X4: Used to attempt to lever anautomobile upward off a hydraulic jack handle.
11. TWEEZERS: A tool for removing splinters of wood, especially Douglasfir.
12. TELEPHONE: Tool for calling your neighbor to see if he has anotherhydraulic floor jack.
13. SNAP-ON GASKET SCRAPER: Theoretically useful as a sandwich tool forspreading mayonnaise; used mainly for removing dog feces from your boots.
14. E-Z OUT BOLT AND STUD EXTRACTOR: A tool that snaps off in boltholes and is ten times harder than any known drill bit.
15. TWO-TON HYDRAULIC ENGINE HOIST: A handy tool for testing thetensile strength of bolts and fuel lines you forgot to disconnect.
16. CRAFTSMAN 1/2 x 16-INCH SCREWDRIVER: A large motor mount pryingtool that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on theend without the handle.
17. AVIATION METAL SNIPS: See hacksaw.
18. TROUBLE LIGHT: The homebuilder’s own tanning booth. Sometimescalled droplight, it is a good source of vitamin D, “the sunshine vitamin,”which is not otherwise found under cars at night. Health benefits aside,its main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at about the same ratethat 105-mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few hoursof the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, its name issomewhat misleading.
19. PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the lids of old-stylepaper-and-tin oil cans and squirt oil on your shirt; can also be used, asthe name implies, to round off the interiors of Phillips screw heads.
20. AIR COMPRESSOR: A machine that takes energy produced in acoal-burning power plant 200 miles away and transforms it into compressedair that travels by hose to an Pneumatic impact wrench that grips rustybolts last tightened 70 years ago by someone at GM, and rounds them off or twists them off.
21. PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.
22. HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to cut hoses 1/2 inch too short.
23. HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadaysis used as a kind of divining rod to locate expensive parts not far fromthe object we are trying to hit.
24. MECHANIC’S KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents ofcardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well onboxes containing upholstered items, chrome-plated metal, plastic parts and the other hand not holding the knife.
*So there you have it: a complete description of the tools all men need, and occasionally use correctly.

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After the busyness… looking for ME!

Now that the “Christmas Rush” is over, and so is the dire concern over whether or not I’ll survive, I’ve started back in on my reading. I’m doing A LOT of reading. I’m catching up on magazines… I actually read alot of magazines while waiting in doctor’s offices and hospital waiting rooms, but now I’m reading through recent magazines and newspapers. I’ve started to get some time worked back into my schedule to work on a chapter here and there of a pastoral counseling book, a book on continuing to work on growing as a husband and as a father, an audio book for the car trips, and even one on “Becoming a Healthier Pastor.”

It’s this last book, Becoming a Healthier Pastor: Family Systems Theory and the Pastor’s Own Family by Ronald W. Richardson, which has captured me the most lately. Part of Fortress Press’s Creative Pastoral Care & Counseling Series, this book has been revolutionary in its abiolity to explode misperceptions and unconscious anxieties within my own life and thinking… and how that impacts my family and my ministry.

I have spent a good ten years as a pastor, and more prior to that, experiencing ‘righteous indignation’ over the way things happen around me… the way a family member doesn’t do what I know would be the best way or the way a parishioner ought to do something. This book starts off with a summary of the literature in this area by quoting Michael Kerr: “The more anxious, frustrated, judgmental, angry, overly sympathetic, or omnipotent one feels about the problems of others, the more it says about unresolved problems in self.”

I wondered what he meant by us feeling “omnipotent” until I read a bit further and Richardson clarifies: “Omnipotence in this case means, ‘I know what your problem is and what you need to do about it.'”


Throughout his first chapter, Richardson further develops the idea of how we learn as a child growing up in a family system certain ways to deal with the anxiety that comes when we feel threatened and the responses we learn during that time pretty much become the fall-back way of dealing with those same kinds of threats and anxieties as an adult… whether that means we distance ourselves, engage in power struggles, rebel, or try to cover up our own feelings and simply try to fit in. Each of those four are ways we typically respond when our anxiety increases.

Richardson goes on and explains the basics of family systems theory and its accompanying anxiety and reactivity and then notes that “differentiation of self… is the antidote to anxiety.”

Differentiation of self is the process whereby we consciously evaluate why we react emotionally in certain ways and then make specific conscious choices as to how we choose to respond in those situations from now on. The argument that ‘I get really angry and blow up because I have red hair’ or because ‘I’m Irish,’ doesn’t cut it. Differentiation says: I get angry and blow up because I choose to… Nobody, and nothing, makes me react in that way. (Neither can anyone make me angry, for that matter.)

The first chapter closes with Richardson returning to his starting point to illustrate how we as pastors can take our own anxieties and emotional reactions into the ministry setting. He writes:

“The Michael Kerr quote at the start of this chapter describes some of the conscious feeling reactions we can have to church members and situations. You may identify with and experience these feelings and attitudes. But there are other, less conscious patterns we carry with us that can cause just as much trouble. For example, these blind spots can occur quite easily while we are in the role of helping or caring for others. When, as pastors, we begin to give advice, sympathize with one side in other people’s arguments, get stuck in their stories and try to figure out ‘answers’ for or with them, participate in triangles, become overinvolved with and overly supportive of them in their problems, or, conversely, try to distance and get out of the helping relationship, we are manifesting our lack of differentiation.” –emphasis mine.

I’m just getting back into reading after a hiatus, so it’s going to take me awhile… but I highly recommend this book for any pastor out there. Especially those of us who have felt ‘omnipotent” at times.


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Remembering President Ford

I was 12 when Richard Nixon resigned and Gerald Ford became president. I remember that all of the TV stations (we got 3 stations out of Buffalo… most of the time) preempted their schedules right before that during the Watergate hearings and then the the uproar on TV and in the paper about Ford’s pardon of Nixon.

Even though I already was leaning towards the Democratic party, when we had mock elections in my school in 1976, Gerald Ford is the presidential candidate I voted for. He didn’t win, but he had won my respect.

Being a teen in Appalachian Pennsylvania, we didn’t follow politics much… but I had perceptions of President Ford as a man of honor… and I just found Ben Witherington’s blog from Sunday, December 31, 2006, where he shares about his personal experiences with the Ford family during and following Ford’s presidency. Check it out!

And thank God for Gerald Ford.

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