The Tale of Two Carpenters

There were two young men whose father sat them down and told them it was time to choose a trade, a skill, a livelihood, a life’s calling. After careful consideration and discussion, both made the decision to become carpenters. They wanted to have the opportunity to create, build, and see the hard work of their hands construct beautiful homes for others to live in.

The father gave each of them a large plot of land and had every available carpentry tool delivered, as well as truckloads of the finest lumber of all types. He then told them to let him know anything they needed anytime to learn the trade and be a success.

The first brother, not wanting to bother his father and always wanting to prove himself to be self-sufficient, went to the local bookstore and bought every manual he could find on how to be a carpenter. He went on-line and watched lectures and how-to videos by famous carpenters. Every day he showed up at the job site, read another book and watched more videos. After a few weeks, he became frustrated because when he picked up his tools and attempted what the experts told him was so easy it didn’t work at all the way they said. Before long, he started showing up late and leaving early, sitting on piles of poorly-cut boards, grumbling about how carpentry wasn’t that great of a profession but how he would still be incredible at it one day, if only given the chance. Until finally, one day he just stopped showing up. The father, finding out, told the other brother to take over his land and all his tools and resources. He had been patient and available with the first brother but he would not waste the abandoned blessings.

The second brother had taken an entirely different path with his identical resources. He asked his father to send him a master carpenter who was a wise and patient teacher to work alongside him. The brother knew he would learn best by working beside the very best example possible. Every day, the master and the disciple would show up at the job site and, while unsure and shaky at first, over time, the young man became adept with every tool and mastered the details of carpentry. Never perfect, but always passionate. As time went on, the two worked together regularly in harmony as an incredible team. They built beautiful homes on his land, on the brother’s land, and began to expand their reach into other areas. The blessed work further increased the boundaries.

This brother’s life was filled with days of hard work, and occasionally he would cut his hand or hit his thumb, but those risks were to be expected in this business. The master carpenter enjoyed the days with his maturing disciple so much, seeing all his investment of time and energy multiplied in the young man’s work. And the father was well pleased in all his son had done with all he had given him from the beginning. The more he gave, the more the young man returned. The work and the efforts were continually multiplied and so many in the community were blessed by what they built together.

The first brother is religion—relying solely on knowledge and the expert experience of others but mostly depending on self to attempt to appease an already pleased Father. Religion is marked by strategies, striving, and strongholds.

The second brother is relationship—relying on the One who will come alongside and teach in grace and truth to build blessing and glory together for the Father and others. Relationship is marked by training, trust, and truth.

Inspiration from Matthew 25:14-30.

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