He taught young Josh about various types of wood. He taught him how to measure, cut, sand and finish wood. He taught him how to hammer a nail through wood without splitting it.
But before he taught Josh any of these things, his father taught him wood was once a living thing, created by God, and that fashioning something useful from a tree that had sacrificed its life was sacred work.
Josh learned fast. Soon he was building planters and bookshelves and making repairs around his house. His mother told her friends about her son’s impressive woodworking skills. When he was still in grade school, some of them hired Josh for small jobs around their houses.
During summers in high school, Josh worked in a carpentry shop. He thought about signing on full-time after graduation, but his father insisted he go to college. He himself hadn’t gone to college, and his work life had consisted of a series of mundane, low-paying jobs.
“Make something of yourself,” his father told him.
Josh left for college that fall. He majored in business. Right after graduating, he joined a solid, mid-sized company, where he excelled. By 40, he was the CEO.
Josh liked his work, but his love of carpentry never left him. Wherever he went — offices, hotels, homes — his eyes were drawn to the woodwork. Sometimes he wondered if he’d missed his calling. “Sacred work,” he could hear his father say.
In 10 years as CEO, Josh doubled his company’s sales and tripled its profits, but his success came at a price. He was burned out. He decided to retire early.
Josh could have joined boards, taken another big job or just kicked back. Instead, he decided to teach carpentry at a local vocational school.
He asked his father to come with him to his first class. He was now 80 and in poor health, but he said yes.
“This is my father,” Josh told his students. “His name is Joe. He taught me everything I know about working with wood.”
Then, turning to his father, Josh said, “Dad, would you please get us started?”