In high school I drove a hoopty, a 1978 Ford LTD Station Wagon. It was a tank. And I think it literally had the engine of a tank. Every morning I stopped on the way to school to get $5 in gas. And on Friday’s I got $5 in gas and a quart of 10W40. That car’s 4-barrel carburetor sucked gas into the engine so loudly you could hear it and you could actually watch the gas gauge drop.
In 1994, retro was not cool. And rolling into the Clay High School parking lot in that broadcast broadly my socio-economic reality. (We didn’t just look poor, we were poor.) In truth I didn’t really care. Having a car– no matter what it looked like— was a luxury to me.
Lessons from The Beast
I want to share 3 lessons that The Beast taught me which apply to my life every day as I lead my family.
- Be happy for what you have not envious for what you don’t. The Beast is what I had and could afford. The crazy thing was that I was actually sharing it with my dad. Even though it was a piece of crap I don’t think I spent much time worrying about what others thought. And while I had friends who had nicer cars if someone thought less of me because of that car, I guess I just didn’t need friends like that. The same is true in adult life. I’m never going to have the nicest car or the best clothes or whatever. It’s not that I don’t see those things or even kind of want those things for my family. It’s that I invest energy in making the most out of what I do have instead of wasting energy on what I don’t have. The same is true with work. I could waste a lot of energy wishing we had x, y, or z thing at The Youth Cartel. Or, I could invest my energy in making the most with what we do have.
- Idling leads to stalls. If in doubt give it some gas. When I got to a red light… if I didn’t give it a little gas while sitting still, it’d stall. Heck, you could be driving down the road and it’d start to stall. The answer to both of those problems was GIVE IT SOME GAS. The same is true in life. I think human nature is to hit a resting point and just let things idle or when something doesn’t feel quite right to mash on the brakes and decide what to do after that. In our family, I feel like we coast a bit during the week so when the weekend comes, we hit the gas. Likewise, at work… I’m sure a lot of people are wondering if the Cartel is going to taper off and kind of go away. Ha! No baby, this month we are launching two brand new events for 2015, the Student Justice Conference and the Women in Youth Ministry Campference. Because hitting the gas is what we do.
- Get excited when it starts. You don’t drive an old car like my 1978 Ford LTD Station Wagon and not get stoked when it starts. In January of my senior year, right in the middle of a teacher strike, a nasty cold front brought sub-zero temperatures to South Bend for more than a week. And while my neighbors cute little brand new cars wouldn’t start, the Beast took two turns, winked it’s headlights, and roared to life. Sure it would have been awesome to have heat. But it started up and we were rolling when no one else was. In our house we celebrate starts. We get excited when one of our kids takes initiative to start something. Even if it’s their homework or a shower, doing it by yourself is a value to us. The same is true in how we work… we get excited when people start stuff. We don’t spend a lot of time wringing our hands about what we should do or shouldn’t do. If it’s aligned into what we’re all about, do it and let’s celebrate the fact that it started.
I’m not saying that this is a life philosophy. But it’s part of it. I’m a blue collar guy and these are blue collar things that permeate what I do every day.
Use what you have to your advantage. Keep momentum by giving it gas. Get excited when something works.
What about you? What did your first car teach you about life?