I recently met a wise 70 year old man from my hometowm who raises Oxen. He also builds log cabins… using no modern technology. To say that I was impressed is an understatement.

On a cold day recently we sat next to a fire in one of the log cabins on his property. The fireplace was made of stone. Each stone had been collected from the creek bed down the side of the mountain. He even told me about the large, sweeping headstone that ran across the top front of the fireplace. He said he spent months looking for the perfect stone and had almost given up hope when he was hiking the creek and it just popped out of him. If you saw this stone, you’d say it was a miracle. It is one continuous piece of long rock, with one flat side and one curved side that seems like it was made to fit this function.

The reason I tell this story is to make a point. Human beings receive a great deal of joy from working with their hands. From making things. From producing things. But many of the jobs in today’s economy leave people feeling dispirited and hopeless. They do not foster creativity or joy.

As I look to raise and shape my boys, I hope to encourage them to pursue a job not primarily for the money, but for the joy of learning a craft and making something wonderful. I want my boys to be able to look at their handiwork and feel a sense of pride.

Whether it’s being a farmer or being a gunsmith or a log cabin builder, the key is to find the right balance between effort and reward while minimizing stress. I believe that working the land or building something physical offers the greatest intangible rewards – but you do have to pay the bills too.