the art of reading instructions

I’m guilty, and you might be too. When I purchase any product requiring assembly, I rarely read the instruction manual before piecing it together.

If you’re like me in this tendency, you’ve likely noticed the same three results of not reading the instructions as I have.

  1. If by some chance you build correctly the first try, you spend more time guessing how to build than knowing how to build

  2. You risk building the wrong way, and then you have to unbuild what you’ve built. And/or, worst of all...

  3. You break or lose pieces or parts along the way which are essential to the structural integrity or usefulness of the product.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Now, I want to draw your attention to the most important thing you will ever be required to piece together; yourself.


The big question is, “Did you read the instruction manual before you began building your life?”


If so, are you continuing to refer back to it as you build?


If not, have you noticed it’s taking you longer to build than you thought?


Have you built it the wrong way before, and you’ve struggled to undo things only to redo them a different way?


Have you lost pieces along the way essential to the integrity or usefulness of your mind, body, and soul?


Now we’re talking.


Do you know why a manufacturer puts the instruction manual in the box?


Because they created the product. They know the ins and outs of its design, and they want to share with you the step-by-step instructions on how to most quickly and efficiently build it.


But why? Three reasons:

  1. To extend the useful life of the product

  2. To maximize the enjoyment and usefulness of the product

  3. To protect you from damaging the product or yourself in the process of building

It’s not for the manufacturer’s benefit that they put an instruction manual in the box, it’s for yours.

Yet, we neglect to even turn the first page before taking things into our own hands.


See where I’m going with this?


Scripture is none other than an instruction manual handed down from the creator to you as to the ins and outs of your design. It is His step-by-step instructions on how to most quickly and efficiently build your life.


Back to the big question, "Have you taken the time to read His instructions before putting your life together?"


If not, how is that working out for you?


Also, regardless of how much you used it during assembly, what do you typically do with the instruction manual after you build the product? Most of us throw it away. It was merely a means to an end, right?


The product is now functioning, so what’s the use of keeping the instruction manual on hand?


For a couch or a blender, maybe not much. But for a car or a hunting rifle, it’s advisable to keep it nearby. Why?

I can think of two major reasons.

  1. For reference when the product requires service or breaks

  2. For understanding how to use the product for its intended purpose

The first reason is self-explanatory.

The second is more important.


Think about cars.

Cars are extremely useful and effective when they are used within the parameters of their design. They transport us from where we are to where we need to be. When serviced right, the life of the car is extended and maintenance is less common.


But what if you put diesel in the tank of a car which runs on gas?

What if you replace the oil with vegetable oil instead of motor oil?

What if you continue to drive on a flat tire?

What if you take a 2WD off-roading in the mud?

God forbid, what if you speed through a school zone or drive through a crowd of people?


See what I mean?


Using the product within the parameters of the manufacturer’s design allows the owner and driver to extend the life of the car, maximize enjoyment and usefulness of the car, and protect the driver, passengers, and others from injury, or worse, death.


Can the car be used in ways other than its intended purpose? Of course.

But doing so could result in the tool becoming a weapon.


Cue, the hunting rifle.


I won’t go deep on this one for the sake of time and politics, but I think you get the picture.


I still find myself tempted to ignore and discard the instruction manuals attached to the products I buy. It’s also a temptation to ignore and discard the Bible and its teachings on how we should build our lives.


Don't feel guilty, this is a human tendency.


However, unless you realize this habit and make moves to fight against it, you will be stuck building your life by guessing instead of knowing which piece goes next.


You’ll be held back undoing what you’ve built only to give it another try. You’ll continue to suffer losing pieces you need to be as useful and effective as your Heavenly Father created you to be.


Only when you realize who made you, how He made you, and what you are designed for are you able to extend your useful life for His kingdom, increase your enjoyment and usefulness of this life, and prevent you from damaging yourself or others in the process of building the life He has set out for you.


We’re all in the process of building a life for ourselves.


My advice: Read the instructions.