It took me awhile, but I finally came to understand that when it comes to buying tools, quality matters. This comes from many years of experience, because I used to think I could save money by buying cheaper tools.

I have a whole drawer full of these dysfunctional tools. Let me rephrase that: I have a garage full of these useless tools. This includes a nice selection of screwdrivers with broken and bent ends. I purchased some of them for $1 each, and upon the first twist of my wrist, the end broke—not the end of the screw, the end of my screwdriver! And nothing will frustrate you more than using a Phillips-head screwdriver when it loses its ability to Phillip.

For some reason, I keep these broken, useless screwdrivers. And it is just as frustrating to have a wrench that doesn’t wrench. I have a fine assortment of nonworking wrenches. Sometimes, I think  about putting all these tools in a garage sale, but my conscience gets the best of me. Why pass my misfortune and stupidity on to others?

I eventually began to buy quality tools one at a time. These good tools have lasted me for years, and they work as well as the day I bought them. A job just feels different when you have quality tools in your hands.  I am the king of buying cheap, but sometimes, cheap costs more. When that happens, a tool is not cheap, but expensive, and the tool you thought was expensive now looks like a bargain.

Some of you might have a hard time discerning the difference between cheap and quality tools. Let me give you some tips. If you are buying a tool and the word “professional” falls off its handle while you’re standing in the checkout line, it is probably a cheap tool. If your tool comes from a store that has the words “Dollar” or “General” emblazoned in giant letters on the front of the building, it would be my guess that this is not a top-end tool. If you buy a circular saw and the cord is only six inches long, you have probably bought a cheap tool. If your tool comes encased in a hard plastic box, I would guess that the plastic is tougher than the tool itself. If the packing for your tool reads, “Made in” and then switches to a language you can’t read, it is probably a cheap tool. Also, the brighter and bolder the packaging, the more the manufacturer is trying to take your eyes away from the tool’s shoddy craftsmanship. So tool-buyer beware: You get what you pay for.

Also, quality tools are time-savers. I have spent half an hour trying to get a screw out with a cheap screwdriver, but when I used a good one, it came out in seconds. Good tools will save you time and money, and in my book, that’s a win-win.

So why do I still keep these cheap tools around? Because I have children and neighbors. Any time one of my neighbors comes over to borrow a tool, I just give him one of the cheap ones. After borrowing my tools once or twice, he will stop asking and go to another neighbor. And of course, every child wants to borrow your tools. When one of them comes in with that sorrowful look and says, “Daddy, I broke your hammer,” you can just put your arm around them and say, “That’s all right. Let me teach you about tools.”

Tools aren’t magic; they are just instruments used to build and repair. But do you know the greatest tool we have to move young children into capable, responsible, self-reliant lives?  It is the Bible. There is none better! “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). Do you see what it says? Children raised to embrace God’s Word will be complete and equipped for every good work.

You can’t do good work with cheap, shoddy tools. That is why God gave us the best. His inspired, inerrant, infallible Word, which will never fail when used according to the manufacturer’s instructions: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6 ESV). And when your neighbors or children come over to borrow tools for their lives, don’t give them the cheap ones. Give them nothing but the best.