The Builder’s Prayer

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”


After a solid Sunday of network experimentation with one of my good friends from Rockhurst, Nick Starke-perhaps the greatest mathematical and technical mind I’ve ever known, I continued programming another app well into the evening. A few hours later, he pinged me on Skype checking to see if I was still chomping at the bits.  Nick admired my work-ethic.  Although I was certainly ready for a home-brew (not the one served on the command line), I told him that it doesn’t feel like labor when you’re passionate about your work.

Later that evening, I recalled a prayer routinely delivered by my first computer science teacher, Coach Bernie Kreikemeier. Due to illness, Coach K tragically passed away before his time but I haven’t forgotten him, or the wisdom imparted by his parable, “The Builder,” a perennial favorite among Rockhurst Alum.  This one particularly resonates with me as a perfectionist striving for righteousness through work. Greatness, in life and in work, cannot be achieved without absolute passion…

“An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house-building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.

The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career.

When the carpenter finished his work and the builder came to inspect the house, the contractor handed the front-door key to the carpenter. “This is your house,” he said, “my gift to you.”

What a shock! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well.

So it is with us. We build our lives in a distracted way, reacting rather than acting, willing to put up less than the best. At important points we do not give the job our best effort. Then with a shock we look at the situation we have created and find that we are now living in the house we have built. If we had realized, we would have done it differently.

Think of yourself as the carpenter. Think about your house. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Build wisely. It is the only life you will ever build. Even if you live it for only one day more, that day deserves to be lived graciously and with dignity. The plaque on the wall says, “Life is a do-it-yourself project.”

Who could say it more clearly?   My hero, my dad-

“Life is a series of decisions connected by the consequences of our attitudes and actions.”

And so I say, our lives tomorrow will result from our attitudes and actions today.


My hero, my dad – a warrior-poet.



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