200 YEAR VISION
“When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for; and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, “See! This our father did for us.”
My parents gave me an old, antique book on building construction a few years back and this quote was on the inside cover. As a guy who likes to build things I was convicted by how many things I had made that surely would not stand the test of time. In light of this I had to ask myself a question, “If the things I was making today were not going to last forever, should I still be making them?” My answer was a resounding, "NO."
I started to ask myself what it means to “build forever”? What does it look like to work in such a way that “our descendants will thank us”? What does it mean to look past “present delight” and “present use alone” – to build something that will increase in value over time?
I thought about design and the difference between a modern design, that may or may not outlast a social fad, versus a classic design that has proven it's importance over hundreds of years. I thought about materials, and which ones would not only hold up against the years, but also grow in beauty.
Think about that one thing in your grandparents house that held immeasurable importance to you. Perhaps it has been in the family for generations. Whoever made that thing, they made it hoping and intending that it would last forever. They made it and thought about you - the future generations who would enjoy and value what they made.
When I make a knife today, I am thinking about the grandchildren that will covet their grandfather's knife. I am making something intending that it lasts forever.
The knives I make today may or may not last 200 years. But perhaps the desire and passion I have to make great things could possibly outlive the very things I am making. I believe if I steward this business well, God can use it to create something that far outlasts my lifetime.
It would bring me no greater joy than for my great-great-children, 200 years from now, in the midst of amazing technological advancements and mostly everything being performed by machines – to in that day – sit at a workbench I built, holding a knife I made, at a business I started, which they are now running, having continued the legacy of craftsmanship, looking around at an office full of joyful employees and knife makers, fulfilled in their vocation, led by Jesus, and there proclaim, “See! This our father did for us.”
- Jonathan McKenzie