At this point any mechanic reading this knows exactly what I did wrong. The mechanic knows what obviously I didn't.
Each wire was a different length--that much was simple enough. But what I didn't know is which wire needed to go on which post of the distributor cap (pictured above). It turns out the location is critical because there is a part that spins inside and sends a perfectly timed charge to the correct wire so the plug that needs to fire has spark. Without getting this right, the car won't run. Yet I had no idea which wire went where. My arrogance bested me. I didn't know what a distributor cap was, let alone what it does and how it works. I made a great deal of assumptions about my abilities as well as my father's experience based on my brief observation of a package of blue wires.
Had I heeded my father's advice, I would have removed only one wire from the distributor cap, knowing exactly which wire went where. Instead, I invited a learning lesson from the school of hard knox. Clearly, I had not known better. Obviously, I could have saved myself a great deal of heartache if I had only humbled myself and listened to my father. He had done this before, maybe many times. And he understood how the distributor cap functioned. (Once I had a better understanding of the full function of these motor parts, maybe I could have been in a place to determine if I could effectively deviate from his way; but not before I had a better understanding.)
As I am now serving as the lead pastor of a new church plant (Redeeming Life Church), I see that I may have acted like the young boy with car troubles. I served on staff under older, wiser pastors. In my previous ministry roles, I would be like that guy sitting in the armchair telling the quarterback how to do his job better. I would observe something and assume I understood all the details. Now that I am elbow-deep in engine grease, I see that maybe I didn't have a full understanding of the situation. Maybe my armchair perspective of my pastor's leadership was missing a great deal of information.
How many times did I think to myself, "If I were doing this, I would. . . "? Not having the perspective of my pastor, I didn't really see the best course of action. (I often wonder how the armchair quarterback would feel if he had a few 350lb linemen coming after him. Would he act the same way the quarterback did? Probably.) Being afforded that perspective now, I am starting to see why my pastors did the things they did, in the way they did them. "Oh. . ." I find myself saying fairly often. Like a young dad feeling like he needs to call his own father and apologize, I often feel I need to say, "I'm sorry" to the wise pastors who have gotten me to this place. Being out on the field is different that directing from the armchair; I see that now.
Fortunately, these older, wiser pastors are still helping me with my journey. I can still go to them often and ask questions. And having a little better perspective, hopefully I won't pull all the wires off the distributor cap too often. For that, I'm thankful.
*Photo by Taran Rampersad is registered under a Creative Commons License.