My Dad, A Carpenter By Trade, Taught Me Who I Am

Hand and hammer

Carpenter, by trade

Sometimes it is hard to pin down exactly what our mission in life is because we don’t really know ourselves all that well.

My Dad had a friend named John W. Kelso.  They met while they both worked at a lumberyard.  Dad was around 40 and John was about 20.  They formed a friendship that lasted for the next 25 years.

I just heard John tell the story that every morning, Dad would come up to John and introduce himself, as though they had never met:


Hi.  I’m Bill Barnett, Carpenter by trade.

John said that they would go through this routine each morning.  You had to know my Dad’s sense of humor to fully appreciate the story.  He loved a good joke and always had a smile on his face.  He would have enjoyed giving John a hard time just because he could.

I wonder how many of us could identify ourselves as my Dad did?

  • Jesse Barnett, Writer by trade
  • Jesse Barnett, Teacher by trade
  • Jesse Barnett, Minister by trade
  • __________, _______ by trade

For many of us, we go through one day after another with no clear cut understanding of who we are or what we are meant to do.

I can remember my Dad telling people that we met that we were “trim carpenters by trade.”

I asked him why he made a point to tell people that we are trim carpenters.

He said, “If you can do trim (or finish) carpentry, you can usually do anything under that.  It tells people that you have an attention to detail and a level of skill that they might not have realized that you have.”

I like the idea of knowing who you are 

and what you are about.

If you have a clear understanding of these two things it often helps your life run much more smoothly and along a path that you choose instead of a path that others choose for you.

My Dad knew he wasn’t a plumber by trade, so he stayed away from plumbing.  He knew that he wasn’t an electrician by trade, so he called his friend Harry who was.

I try to keep this in mind as I go about my life and my vocation.

  • What am I called to do?
  • How can I use my talents and abilities to fulfill my purpose?
  • What do I need to say no to in order to focus on my calling?

I have to realize that I am called according to God’s purpose.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Many of us are familiar with the first part of this verse but may not pay too much attention to the last part.  We have been called according to the purpose God has for our lives.  Of course the initial purpose for our lives is to be conformed into the image of Christ.

I believe God uses us in a variety of ways to make his purpose for us complete. No circumstance, no situation, no thing in life is too difficult for God to work for good.

My Dad knew who he was.  He was Bill Barnett, a Carpenter by trade.

But more importantly than that he was Bill Barnett, Child of God.  Redeemed by the blood of Lamb.  Now he is walking in eternity with Jesus.

He knew what his mission in life was and he fulfilled it.

He made an impact on all those he met, but most importantly he impacted his family and his friends.

What about you?

What are you here for?  What are you called to do?

What is your mission?

Let me know in the comments.  I would love to hear what you have to say.






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  • Another fabulous thought-provoking blog. This is the perfect response
    any life-coach should give to their client. It answers all the important
    questions. So much better than a mirror!