Edna had a problem. Her computer’s printer stopped working correctly. The computer followed a day later.
Fortunately for Edna, both devices came with on-site service.
John from the printer company and Chuck from the computer company arrived almost simultaneously at the little house at the end of the lane. John held a thick manual for the printer and was dressed in a spiffy, navy blue uniform with his name embroidered above his heart. Chuck came loaded with tools, drives, and devices and seemed less put together. He also carried a thick manual. He wore a uniform too, but it was faded and had a hole in one elbow, and the headphone/microphone contraption strapped to his head made him look alien.
Both repairmen greeted Edna.
“Just happy you boys are here,” the elderly woman said.
“We’re happy to be here,” the two answered.
But soon, one of the two had less happy news.
John had looked at the printer’s screen and read the code. “I can’t do anything about this,” he said.
Edna frowned. “You looked in your manual and it didn’t tell you what to do?”
“No,” John answered. “Well, actually yes. Yes, it did tell me some of what to do, but protocol requires I call in an engineer who was on the design team. I mean, I know the manual backwards and forwards, but this is how we do it. Only the engineer at HQ is authorized.”
Edna was incredulous and started, “But—”
“—when will it get fixed?” John finished. “Well, the engineer may take his time. He should be back in this area next week.” John stared out a window. “Or the week after that.”
Chuck watched the wind go out of Edna’s sails.
“But I need to print a flyer for the ladies’ auxiliary fund-raiser. It’s next week.” Edna replied.
John offered her a frog-like frown and said, “Sorry. That’s the best I can do. The engineer is really good, though. I’m sure he’ll have you fixed up.”
“Don’t see much of the point of having on-site service if it comes down to this,” Edna said to herself.
But Chuck heard it. Despite the frustration in the words, he smiled.
Edna escorted John to the door.
“A pleasure serving you,” John said. The repairman got in his truck, which was shiny and new, and drove off.
Edna walked back to her little home office. Chuck had out a small notebook computer. He was talking into his microphone. To Edna, it sounded like so much gibberish, but she was sure it was something technical. The repairman stared intently into his computer’s display. “Thanks,” he then said to no one in the room.
“Good news,” Chuck announced. “I was able to discern what your problem is.”
“That’s great!” The woman’s countenance brightened.
“I was talking with the engineer at our company, and he sent a patch that should fix the issue on the computer. Turns out, it was an OS update glitch.”
To Edna, Chuck seemed to rise up an inch taller.
“Yeah, a lot of people got hammered by that one,” he continued. “Those auto-updates sometimes create problems.”
“Yes, they do sometimes,” Edna said.
“Well, I’ll make things better than ever,” the repairman reassured. Edna was surprised to see him move to the printer. Intently, he glowered at the printer’s display.
“I think this is a firmware update glitch,” Chuck said.
“How do you know that, young man?”
“I just know. I think I can fix it.”
Chuck connected his notebook to the malfunctioning computer and ran the patch he had received. With a reboot, the computer was fixed. The repairman then shut off the printer, reached for a button on the back that had escaped Edna’s notice, held it down, and flicked the printer’s switch back on. The printer came on and ran through its startup procedure.
“A miracle!” Edna proclaimed, beaming.
Chuck laughed. “Not quite yet. It won’t run right without that update. I’ll download it and install it.”
Which he did. And soon, both the computer and printer were working right again.
But to Edna’s surprise, Chuck wasn’t done.
“I’m pretty sure your computer was running a bit slow lately.”
Edna was beginning to wonder about this Chuck fellow. He seemed to know things he shouldn’t.
“Yes,” she said. “It hasn’t been itself.”
“‘Hasn’t been itself,'” Chuck repeated to himself with a chuckle. “Yeah, sometimes these things have their own personality, don’t they?”
“My husband could be cantankerous too,” Edna said.
Chuck saw the woman glance at a picture on the wall. “I’m sure he was a great man.”
Edna nodded. “He was.”
The repairman smiled and turned back to the computer. “The hard drive needs defragmenting—badly. The source of the slowness, I’m sure. I’ll take care of that, and you’ll be as good as new.”
And an hour later, for Edna and her little home office upon which the ladies’ auxiliary depended, it was as good as new. Or better. Thanks to Chuck.
On his way out, Chuck handed Edna a business card. As he pulled away in his decade-old truck that had probably seen better days, Edna waved. She examined the white card. Handwritten on the bottom it read, Call anytime—for any reason.
Later that afternoon, Edna phoned the printer company and canceled her service call. She figured if she had a problem with the printer in the future, she had someone better to call.
There’s a conference going on this weekend on the West Coast. The equivalence of that conference is to do something about “repairmen” who are out of bounds, especially if they are more like Chuck than like John. That may be well and good, but if folks like Chuck get ground up in the process, that’s not good. Sadly, it does not appear that those running the conference care much about the difference. Maybe they do, but I suspect the Chucks of this world are going to get short shrift anyway.
We need empowered people in the Church. God empowers people by His Spirit because He intends for us to do the work. Wherever we may be, if we are so empowered, we are fulfilling His intent for us, and subsequently, we are helping in the way that He intends. If we reject that empowerment, then we become like John in the story. We can show up, but what good are we?
I want to be like Chuck. Don’t you?