The voice on the other end of the phone was sad, but resolute. Her beloved dog had “died a year ago.” It was buried in the back yard in a plastic tote box, “the kind with the snap-on lid,” she said. The family had to move and “naturally,” she blustered, “Ben needed to go with us.”
As a regular customer of mine she knew that I was very versatile. She called, hopeful. After all, a handyman can do anything, right?
I actually thought about this for a while. I called her back, thankful for an answering machine pickup. I explained that I would have to pass. I tried to be sensitive, knowing the emotions involved. For the record, I realize that exhuming animals is not something I do – ever.
And that’s a big part of my challenge – knowing my limitations. Certain things are better left to someone else. I have a simple business plan and I stick to it.
I didn’t start off my life intending to do this for a living. But my janitorial company forced me to work nights, and with a wife and a couple of young children, I knew something had to change.
“Officially” I began to work in the business when a close friend of mine who owned a busy handyman company invited me to join him. But after a couple of years, he left to pastor a church and the company was mine. I missed the friendship and companionship, but contentedly fell into the solitary role. There’s a Latin word for what I do – sola repaira.
My days are spent helping customers cross items off of their home maintenance and repair to-do list. I help single moms, busy couples, and overwhelmed customers with a variety of home tasks. One of the most satisfying things I have been able to do is help senior citizens to stay in their homes. The help I provide them enables them to be able to enjoy their home without having to worry about repairs or maintenance that needs to be done.
After all these years, most repairs are fairly routine, but some require the ability of a magician and the inventory of a junk collector. It’s a good feeling to have customers express their appreciation -- and sometimes amazement -- regarding the finished job.
Many times the task I am working on requires heavy concentration but on many occasions I am able to think about other things. Lately I’ve been reading – and then thinking – about the book of Proverbs.
It’s applicable to what I do every day. Look at Pr. 22:29. “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” This tells me when I’m skillful in my work, then I’ll be able to actually command a higher price and have a solid, devoted customer base. I can’t sacrifice the quality of my work just to satisfy those who are looking for the lowest price.
I make my daily work a matter of prayer. It might sound funny to pray before a porcelain throne, but that’s what I do. I’m not afraid to ask for God’s help and the wisdom and knowledge I will need to accomplish what I have to do that day.
As I look back over 26 years in the business, I’ve ridden along with the economy. In just a couple of short years I went from my best year to my worst year. But the one constant has been God as provider. Even in the leanest of times my family and I have been abundantly blessed. With eight children, that has been a lot of food and clothing. God has given me the aptitude to be a handyman and has given me the ability to make a good living.
What more can a man ask for?
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