Radiators and Hair Buns

By Paul Koch

hard work

On Monday evening, my car (a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee) began to overheat. Pulling into a parking lot near my home to look for the problem, I found a small river of coolant pouring from the water pump and pooling beneath the vehicle.  I risked driving it the rest of the way home but knew that my Tuesday would be significantly spent covered in grease and grime.

By Wednesday morning, my vehicle was on the road again after I replaced the entire cooling system; the radiator, water pump, and thermostat, plus changing the transmission fluid and filter. (Ok, so the problem was a little more than I had expected!)


After it was all done I was asked by a friend if I liked doing that kind of work. I found the answer wasn’t all that easy.  I didn’t like spending my day lying on my back covered in transmission fluid. I didn’t like making three trips to the auto-parts store. I didn’t like busting my knuckles when the torque wrench slipped off a housing bolt. But I love the quiet victory of being able to master my own stuff.

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It wasn’t just that I fixed the problem, sure that was the intention, but it was that I gave it a shot. I opened the garage door and pondered the Chilton’s repair manual, took a deep breath and began to turn the wrench on stubborn bolts.

Even if I had failed to fix it and had to take it to an expert, I would have found some joy in knowing that I went down swinging.

That is what I liked; and I have found that I like that more and more.

But this doesn’t just apply to turning wrenches. For the past few months I had to take my youngest daughter to her ballet class. Not only did I need to make sure she was dressed and ready to go, I had to put her hair up. And I’ll be dammed if I wasn’t going to figure out how to master the ballet bun. Trust me, at times it was easier to change out a water pump then to control all the flyaway hairs and get the bobby pins to stay. I even watched YouTube videos for tips and tricks; by the end, I was pretty good at it.


I fear we have become accustomed to deferring to others, not just with our stuff but with our various callings in life. Too often we don’t even try to master our own craft (whatever it may be); instead we settle for mediocrity with a few gems we’ve stolen from Pinterest or our Twitter feed to spruce up our work. What happened to a pursuit of quality? What happened to the drive to be the best at what we do? What happened to the willingness to risk failure so that we might be better in the end?


I say, it is time to take some risks. It’s time to shake off the dull sloth of what this world gives us and dare to master the stuff in our control. If you’re a mother, then be one that breaks the mold. If you’re a teacher, then be one that truly inspires. If you’re a preacher, then be the best damn preacher you can be. And if you fail, who cares! At least you went down swinging. Besides, your salvation does not hang in the balance; your eternity is not fashioned by your own hands. Only the blood of the Lamb decided that. You are saved by grace alone: so you are free to work, free to fail, and free to get up again and again.

So get out the tool box, roll up your sleeves, and do the work our Lord has given you to do.