The reality of a boy growing up in a Christian home, desperately desiring to be a college football player, surrendering to Christ in my final college days, and then serving as a youth pastor before being called into the vocation of mini-mill textiles is a strange thing to unpack. So you might be reading my blog and asking yourself, “Where is this guy coming from? What is he hoping to accomplish? How does what he’s saying inform my business practices? Is this guy 80% Christian and 20% business or some other dichotomy?
Don’t be alarmed, I am for you, not against you. Jesus said it this way, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” The reality is that there is a path that is fully Christian and fully business. There is no longer a divide between what is sacred and what is secular – everything is holy, set apart for good works. In this awakening to craftsmanship in our modern time, it has become evident to me that there is a story of the “original renaissance man” for which I must do my part to point us to, derive our creativity from, submit ourselves to and enjoy the experience of apprenticing with Jesus Christ.
Which brings me to this most fascinating aspect of craftsmanship. This reality of being in the workshop with a master craftsman and apprenticing with them and watching them work with the medium of their choice with grace, effort, and patience to produce a beautiful work of art. As an apprentice, I am there to observe, ask questions, learn the whys of the craft, develop the skills of how, and champion the ability to create things. As an apprentice, I am a student willing to submit to the teacher for the purpose of learning how to create new things, as they do.
One of the greatest, most beautiful elements of the Judeo-Christian faith, authored and perfected by Jesus Christ himself, is the idea of practical discipleship. A true master craftsman says to all who would apprentice with them, “Come and follow me, I will make you…”. In other words, there is a path by which we could discover the knowledge of something that is truly life-giving and forge ahead with our ability to obey and practice as much of it as we can and gain a heart of wisdom.
Sadly, much of this practical discipleship has been lost in our world today. People today believe that Jesus is no longer present in any effectual manner as a master craftsman to apprentice those who choose to follow. We are all quick to acknowledge so many things about him that we “believe” but we deny his actual presence and power to be our teacher today who faithfully instructs us in the way that we should go. This is a completely ludicrous life! Jesus, the master craftsman says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”
This pseudo-reality suggests that we can study the Bible and participate in fellowship with other adherents, and seek to reason out what our faith is actually founded on – what we believe… and assume that this is it… to believe is all that is needed. But this never will fly in the workshop. One cannot become a craftsman on theory alone, it takes disciplined practice – or practical discipleship. It’s the confession that we are ultimately accountable for demonstrating what our faith does – how we must behave. Anything short of this in the workshop is completely disingenuous, shaming of the craftsman but also a complete waste of the apprentice’s time. That is why I have said, sadly this commitment has become a lost art, supplanted by a culture of “make believers” instead of “make disciples”.
This kind of “could have, would have, should have” well-wishing for ourselves and others in life is what should plainly demonstrate that we have not entered the kingdom of God. It is an utter disparity in its purest form. Do we not see why it is so easy to marginalize this kind of culture to the furthermost corners of society because it has no weight, no glory, no value?
Therefore, when we have these surreal moments where we are realizing what is true/false about our lives… when we’ve come to grips with the reality that there is something very concrete that we are doing wrong, not doing well enough, or that there is something that we are being blind to – or choosing to look the other way on… and that if we could just have someone come alongside us and teach us to do “x” that might correct it, help it or make things better. That is the desire for discipleship. That is the model of a craftsman and apprenticeship.
as an aspiring apprentice in a particular craft how does this inform your path forward?