Edited version published in Upper Room – Feb 4, 2007
When our youngest son was in his early teens, he was in that in-between stage of work. Old enough to want to work and want money to spend, but not old enough to be hired by most businesses. So he did what a lot of other kids did of that age, he mowed yards.
One day I came home from work and noticed that the back of his friend’s pickup was full of lawn mowers, trimmers, etc. So I asked what they were up to. The boys explained that it was more fun to mow together and it took less time if they helped each other mow.
That night when my son came home I inquired how this business arrangement worked out.
“What do you mean,” he asked.
“Well, how does it work out in terms of payment?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well how did you figure out how much you owe each other after mowing yards?”
“You don’t get it dad (which if you have had teenagers you are well aware this is not a new phenomenon). We just get paid for our own yards. It goes faster to mow together and one has a riding lawn mower that is fun to drive and another has a gas trimmer, so we just go mow yards.”
“But one has much bigger yards and one of your friends gets paid more for his yards.”
When I got the “Don’t worry about it” and the eyes that rolled so far back they almost disappeared, it hit me. I really didn’t get it. I was so focused on the rules and regulations and accounting, that I missed the point. They didn’t care. It went faster and the work was more fun when they were together. The money was the same regardless of whether they worked alone or worked together, so why not work together?
There are times in our lives that we become so focused on the rules, protocols, regulations, and what divides us, that we miss the point. There is so much more we can do together.