Dick Brackett is Special Projects Manager for World Christian Broadcasting. His career has included producing audio-visual materials for a major United States corporation. For 7 years he was Bozo the Clown on local television. His hobbies include hunting, golf, softball, travel, and spending time with his wife, his children, and his three grandchildren.
My good friend Ray Jackson once worked for the Nashville Bridge Company, which built not only bridges, but barges and towboats as well. During a recent visit in my home, he told me of a unique practice used by his boss Harry Dyer to check the quality of their work. Bear in mind that these towboats must be capable of moving as many as 20 barges at a time, both upstream and down river. I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, right on the Ohio River, where I could watch these massive strings of barges moving up and down the river every day. In elementary school, every student learned to identify each towboat by the distinctive sound of its whistle.
Each towboat was outfitted with three huge engines, capable of delivering 10,000 horsepower, to turn the massive propellers that drove the boat through the water. From our vantage point on the river bank, we kids could hear the deep thrumming of the mighty engines under full power, going upstream. So, with this background, I could fully appreciate the significance of what Ray Jackson told me about how Harry Dyer checked the quality of the construction of these powerful little boats.
Before delivering a finished towboat to the company that bought it, Harry Dyer would assemble the entire construction crew; the engineers, the draftsmen, the welders, the bookkeepers and accountants, everybody, to come aboard the boat. Once everyone was gathered, Harry would order the engines started and brought up to a certain rate of speed. Then he would take out a new nickel and balance it on its edge near the outside rim of the deck. If the nickel stood on its edge, with the mighty engines running, Harry would pronounce the boat worthy of his high quality standards, and ready to be delivered. He would then place the nickel in a little velvet bag, and present it to the new owner as a keepsake and a reminder of the high standards under which the boat was built. Then they would all hold a little party to celebrate the completion of a high quality piece of work. If the nickel fell over during the demonstration, Harry would reject the entire project and order corrections that would reduce the vibrations to an acceptable level. Not until the nickel could stand on its edge would the boat be delivered.
Listener Friend, wouldn’t you like to know that everything you bought or every deal you made was held to these high standards? I certainly would! And I would also like to know that everyone I dealt with had confidence that my work could meet these high standards. As a Christian, I believe that God directs me to hold myself to standards like this, and expects me to see to it that all of my deals are honest and straightforward.
In the Bible, in the book of Second Corinthians, chapter eight, verse 21, we are told that we should be “providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.” And in Second Corinthians, chapter 13, verse seven, we are told by the Apostle Paul, “Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do that which is honest.” And in the book of Hebrews, chapter 13, verse 18, Paul asks his readers, including us, to, “Pray for us, for we trust that we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.”
The world would be a much better place, if we could all hold ourselves to the high standards of quality and honesty exemplified by such men as the Apostle Paul and Harry Dyer.
Nothing we do is good enough until we can stand the nickel on edge and make it balance.