Posted by: pendrops | September 24, 2007

these uncommon years

“You won’t believe it, Sue,” he said as he climbed in the car, half-eaten sheet cake in hand. “I’m keeping my job,” he smiled, looking at his wife and then at a little redhead perched on her knees in the backseat.

“Bob said he didn’t know where he would find the money or what he’d have me do, but he couldn’t let me go. Even with the layoff. He told me to come in on Monday. He’d find something for me.”

Uncommon favor. It’s unexpected. It’s something we can’t conjure – at least not directly, not knowingly. It’s what happened to my dad in his early days at Caterpillar Tractor Company. It’s what happened to him so many times thereafter. And now, all these uncommon years later, dad is celebrating 30 years at Cat.

I’ve been thinking about what makes that so unusual and, moments of divine intervention and peculiar provision notwithstanding, I’ve decided that there are countless uncommonalities winding and weaving themselves in and out of these years.

I suppose part of the uniqueness of 30 consecutive years at the same company has a little something to do with our culture. For better or worse, we hop around from workplace to workplace now. Five, maybe six or seven years at most, and we’re off to another stint at another company. And that’s okay. It’s the world we live in. The work force is different than it was in the 70s and 80s. Our generation is mobile and digital, small-business-oriented and specialized. And in the midst of all that change and speed and movement, 30 years at one place is a praiseworthy accomplishment.

But I didn’t plan to write about industry and motion and specializations. I planned to write about integrity and perseverance and sacrifice. How my dad has lived out his beliefs in a sometimes God-less workplace. The instances when he held to a higher standard despite his bar-lowering counterparts. The ways he has labored honorably through un-honorable times (strikes and layoffs come to mind) and sometimes with small, un-honorable women and men.

And I planned to write about the kind of perseverance it takes to stick with something for 30 years; marriage, job, anything. Because there are always years when it would be easier to quit, to leave, to ditch the whole thing. But something kept him; some strength and deeper purpose.

I also planned to write about sacrifice and how in all his 30 working years, particularly the stretch of years when a daughter needs her dad most, I never felt an absence. Even when he worked all day and took engineering classes all night, even when tough projects caused late hours, even when there was travel and frustration and uncertainty. Somehow, my most vivid memories overflow with his fun and funny presence, as he surely gave up so many other pursuits to be a hard-working family man.

And at the source of all that integrity, perseverance and sacrifice has always been favor, blessing, and God’s keeping hand; opening doors, raising windows, breaking down walls. That hand has brought unlikely victory, unexpected friendships, timely growth, deep cultivation, rich laughter, compelling strength and so many jobs well done.

I see it now, with the bits and pieces I know of these years spread out in front of me; and the uncommon-ness was not so uncommon after all.

*Congratulations, dad, on your extra-ordinary achievement…not only for the years, but for their quality and shine.



  1. AMAZING… Congratulations on 30 years! That is a great testimony to the power of consistency and diligence.

  2. WOW! We celebrate your dad and celebrate WITH your dad on this unbelievable accomplishment. The Scott we know & love came jumping off the page of this blog entry. What a beautiful piece of blessing. Way to go, Scott!! We miss you guys!

  3. i am gonna show this to my friend, brother

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