Making do

David Epps's picture

My father was a believer in “making do.” A child of the Great Depression, he learned early that resources were scarce and sometimes one just had to do the best one could do with what one had at hand.

Throughout his life he was a pack-rat of sorts, collecting odds and ends that might someday be put to use. He rarely took a trip to the hardware store because, somewhere in the basement, he would find what he needed.

Years ago, when I was interviewing for the position of pastor of a small church, I was told that they had an excellent music program. The operative word was “had.”

The previous pastor and his family were gifted musically, both in vocal and instrumental skills. When they departed, the excellent music program departed with them.

The church did have a small choir that did a good job and there was an excellent pianist. The problem was that, during the summer, she traveled extensively with her husband so, most days, we were without accompaniment.

The Church of Christ, with a long history of singing without musical instruments, may be able to pull that off, but we were not that skilled. We needed instrumentation.

Looking around at what I had at hand, I saw only a 12-string guitar that I had used in youth ministry and a collection of choruses from bygone days. I was terribly out of practice and limited in guitar abilities.

I also came across a scripture from Ecclesiastes 9:10a (King James Version) that read, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might ...” That sounded a lot like doing the best one could do with what one had at hand.

So, blowing the dust off the Ovation guitar and searching through my music for songs that began in either G or C, I began to practice. A couple of weeks later, I brought the guitar to Sunday morning service much to the delight of some and to the horror of others. “A guitar? Here? That’s the best you can do?” It was.

Within a few weeks, someone else pulled their guitar out from under the bed and joined me. In a couple of months we had four people with guitars and one who played a mandolin.

Not all were happy. One man said that he could no longer invite people to our church because it was too much like the TV program, “Hee Haw.”

“There’s one fool up there picking and another fool up there grinning,” said he. We pressed on anyway trying to make do.

Some months later a keyboard player moved to the state with her husband, a drummer. In time, we had a choir, a worship team, and an orchestra. We even had people come forward who wrote music.

It didn’t happen overnight, of course, but it did happen. I, of course, put my guitar back into the closet because I didn’t have the skill or ability to play in the new reality.

The lesson here? It is much easier to complain about what we don’t have and to make excuses as to why nothing good is happening in our lives or our organizations. It takes no creativity or intelligence to grumble.

As my dad taught by example, if we will spend our energy concentrating on what we do have, we just might find that we have everything we need for the moment.

The rest will come later as we learn that being creative and positive with what seems to be limited resources will not only draw out the best in ourselves but in others as well.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and is the mission pastor of Christ the King Fellowship in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at frepps@ctkcec.org.]

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