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Don’t Cheat Yourself Out of Good Tools

Do Not Cheat Yourself on Good Tools

I tend to think the best comedy is the kind that is universal. It picks up on themes we can all readily identify with, no matter who we are. Brian Regan does a great little bit on getting a new pair of contacts, and it always makes me chuckle. He talks about the long procrastination so many of us endure before we finally do something as simple and rewarding as getting new lenses. When we finally get around to visiting the eye doctor and getting our new prescription we realize, “Man, I could have been seeing things!” He asks, “How can instantly improved vision not be at the top of your to-do list?”

It’s a good question. Yet is not at all uncommon to put off even things as obvious and important as instantly improved vision. We put it off until tomorrow and then the day after tomorrow, until it at last falls into that ever-growing “someday, any day but today” list we all keep somewhere.

If we see glasses and contacts as tools, we can draw a wider lesson. Lenses improve our vision so we can see to do our jobs and carry out our responsibilities. They are an important tool in just about every vocation and every part of life. We tend to carry out our tasks with greater skill and better success when we can see well instead of poorly. Poor vision is a hindrance that slows us down, generates mistakes, and leads to awkward situations. Yet we are still prone to procrastinate. We still content ourselves to get by with mediocre tools rather than excellent ones. In this way I see “instantly improved vision” as being related as much to productivity as to health. You owe it to yourself and others to get the tools you need to carry out your responsibilities as well as possible. If you need to see to do your job, seeing well becomes a responsibility, not an option.

And this is true of all tools, not just the ones we set before our eyes. Even though better tools allow us to do our jobs better, we are still prone to procrastinate or even to get by with the fewest, oldest, or most basic tools. Sometimes this is sheer laziness, and we just can’t be bothered. Sometimes we simply neglect to consider how much better we might do with improved tools. And sometimes, perhaps especially among believers, this is frugality, the idea that buying new stuff or better stuff proves weak morals. Or perhaps it proves profligacy, as if a dollar spent on tools is a dollar not dispatched to the mission field.

When we go for surgery, we are glad to know the doctor didn’t pick up his scalpels at the local dollar store

Yet we are selective here. When we go for surgery, we are glad to know the doctor didn’t pick up his scalpels at the local dollar store, even if that had saved him a few bucks and made him brag of how far he can stretch his budget. We want him to have the best tool for the job of cutting us open and we know that a high-quality scalpel is going to deliver a better result than a bargain-basement one. When we hire a contractor to build that addition on our house, we are glad, not dismayed, to hear that he has just invested some good money in new tools that are faster and more efficient and just plain better at doing what they do. Intuitively we know there is most often a connection between good tools and good results.

In general, the tools you need to do your job are a worthwhile and justifiable expenditure. I will grant this is not always wise or feasible. Sometimes old tools are superior to new ones and sometimes there are more pressing financial considerations than replacing what can last just a little bit longer. But in general, we are dependent upon tools in all of life and in every vocation. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to get the tools you need to do your best possible work. If you’re going to scrimp and save, well and good, but this is not the place to do it.

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