On the way home from a rodeo the other day, we came across a friend with a blown out tire. I slammed on the brakes as we skidded to a halt on the shoulder 30 yards ahead of them. As Ethan and I were walking back to give our assistance, they shouted from the rear of the trailer: “You gotta 4-way?” A four-way is easily the best tool for changing a tire, especially roadside, but I don’t carry one in the truck. We tried connecting wrenches, deep sockets, and few other things, but the lug wouldn’t break loose. They had to limp their trailer to the next exit and get a hand from a service shop. But had we had the right tools, the job would have got done!
Gary Smalley writes his book, Men’s Relational Tool Box, using a similar story as his premise. Most of us have started a project or repair job only to find out you were missing the proper tool or equipment to do the job. According to Smalley, the same holds true for men and relationships. Often times the tools we carry with us, the tools that are significant and necessary for work, leadership, and competition, are not the tools that forge solid, strong relationships with our wives and families. When it comes to work our problem-solving tool and our take charge tool are a necessity for success and accomplishment. But in our time with our wives and kids, often a solution is not needed or wanted and when we take charge we often run-over people.
Smalley challenges us men to learn to use some tools that have rusted from disuse in our lives. He encourages men not to reach for the first tool in the tool box, but the best tool. Men like facts, but our fact-finding tool, when our wives are telling us intimate details, is not the best tool for the job. She is not looking to share facts of life, but inviting us to share as well, so the proper tool is the first one he gives: the open-sharing tool. This tool helps us share personal details of our lives…something I personally struggle with. Alongside this tool, Smalley gives 5 other tools that will help us in our relationships: patient-listening tool; win-win tool; selfless-honor tool; tender-touch tool; time-and-energy tool. Most of these tools are self explanatory and Smalley fully illustrates each one in his book. When the last chapter rolls around, Smalley gives one tool to save relationships: forgiveness. He does a great job of bringing out the things that keep us from forgiveness.
This was a sold book, especially for the newly married. His illustrations were often the things that are faced by young couples, his advice is pertinent, and he is well experienced. The book lacked much scripture, but was still biblically founded. It was a fairly short read, but worth it.