General Life Skills

Life Skills: What’s in Your Wheelhouse?

When it comes to figuring life out, guys need to have an understanding of how life works and a few practical ways to handle what life throws at them. Problem-solving skills, relational skills, everyday skills that will see your through some awkward and tight situations can prove invaluable.

I keep a pocket knife on me virtually all the time, (except when I’m traveling through TSA). It has helped me out of some unique situations and has been a practical help, even in the kitchen! Cutting apples for my morning power smoothie. Opening shipment boxes from Amazon. Cutting paracord when hiking. Yes, I keep it very clean and sharp!

Know Yourself

Some guys are natural at sports as if they came out of the womb with a ball in their hand! Others of us weren’t gifted with such eye-hand coordination. I recall my junior year of high school. A buddy and I decided to try out for baseball. Maybe it was those cold February Kansas days that didn’t help the situation, but my hands dropped the ball more than I caught it. Gauging by the success of those around me, I quickly concluded I could save face by cutting myself from the team. Considering coach was our government teacher, I lingered back after class one day to tell him the news. My folks taught me to follow through with my commitments. To not give up. Yet, this was one area that wasn’t cut out for me. “Coach, I’ve got something I need to tell you.”  He listened as I fumbled my way through why I had to quit the team. To which he replied in his slow, never-rushed, almost southern drawl, “Well, I guess you gotta do what you gotta do.” And, thus ended my 3-week baseball career! Walking away, I felt relieved. Disappointed I wasn’t better at baseball but glad to walk away from something with a bit of integrity still in my pocket.

What Google Can’t Do for You

Ever since Google came on the scene, where information is literally at your fingertips, there is this growing misconception that we all must know and be good at everything. Guys are now watching YouTube videos for virtually anything and everything they want to do. Tying a tie. Cooking a meal for their girlfriend. Reviews are the basis for a lot of purchases we make. Hey! I like Google! Google and Bing and Yahoo are my allies.  BUT, they are not my life and they are not a substitute for learning life-skills. Google may show you how to change a tire, but it won’t change it for you. It might tell you how to make that gourmet dinner, but it won’t cook it for you. You still have to buy the food, cut the carrots and figure out how to use the oven.

Effort, Focus, and Tenacity

There are a lot of people in the Bible who have some very practical skills. Trades that benefit society and glorify God. Read in the Old Testament how God used craftsmen and goldsmiths to build the temple.

[6] And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you: (Exodus 31:6 ESV)

How shepherds were used by God.

The Shepherds and the Angels

[8] And in the same region, there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. [9] And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. Luke 2:8–9(ESV)

They were in many respects, experts in their specific fields. They excelled at a few things, not everything.  Personality tests, skill and aptitude tests can help you hone in on what are your strong-suits; what’s in your wheelhouse. Discovery usually comes through trial and error. No one, I repeat no one, masters any skill the first time they try. It takes effort, focus, tenacity, and a willingness to extend grace to yourself when you mess up.

I recall the first time I built a deck. The architect in me had it all figured out, but the way I cut the boards and secured them…let’s just say my appreciation for accuracy in cutting boards improved as time went on. By my second and third decks, I had figured out some handy tricks to improve the quality of my work.

Ask for Help

The worst thing a guy can ever say is “I can handle it.” How many times has pride gotten in the way of me asking for help? My strained back, my pulled muscles, the furniture I dropped, all because I thought I was suppose to handle things like a man! Honestly, in my case, since having open heart surgery, I’m apter (and frankly ordered by my doctor) to not overextend myself. I’ve had to re-learn what is the new normal. And, in that, I’ve also redefined and expanded what is in my life-skills wheelhouse.

On their website, the Art of Manliness ( offers 100 life-skills every guy should know. It’s a bit daunting to think there are a lot of those things I don’t know, can’t do or probably never will need to. They divide the skills into three basic areas:  Procreators, Protectors, and Providers. Skills in procreation are saved for marriage. Protectors are men who keep a watch at the door over themselves and their families. They lock doors and defend that which is important to them. Providers are men who know how to work; who go the extra mile to be sure those who depend on him are taken care of.

Your Turn

Think about life-skills in those three areas. List out what skills you currently have that fit well in those areas. Where are you lacking? Figure out what skills would be beneficial and take initiative to learn that skill.  

Here’s an example to get you thinking:

Procreator Protector Provider
If single, find a wife. Learn how to build a relationship driven by depth of character, not hormones. Add deadbolts to your house. Figure out how to balance your bank account.  Knowing how much you have and what are your priorities helps determine if you have enough.
If married, learn the art of intimacy with her-exclusively.  Developing a deep spiritual connection with your wife will help matters in the bedroom! Install a security system

Install motion-sensor exterior lighting.

Develop a budget.  Find a good model, such as Dave Ramsey’s.
Promote things in your circle of influence that value life.  Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. Take a self-defense class.  It can prove helpful when you least expect it. Make smart grocery shopping choices.  Food consumption ultimately impacts the genetic makeup of your DNA; how it is expressed. This impacts you and those you feed.
Explore an art medium you haven’t tried before. A friend took a 2D drawing class from a local art school.   Workout.  Build up your muscles. You don’t have to be some world record-holding weight-lifting champ, but you should be able to maximize your physical abilities for who you are. Learn to spiritually nurture those in your influence. Invest in those who look to you for advice and help.  Don’t enable them by doing what is their responsibility. Good leaders prime the spiritual pump.

If you haven’t added to the list above you aren’t taking this issue of life-skills seriously.  Don’t wait till you’re in a bind before you start figuring out what to do and how to do it. Simply reacting without planning ahead is an indicator you aren’t thinking long term. I’m in my 50s and there are still life-skills I need and want to learn. I don’t have to be King of the Hill with them, but I need a basic grasp on what and how to do certain things in life. With all honesty, list yours out: the ones you do well now and the ones you would like to add to your wheelhouse. If you are at a loss for what to list, get with your mentor for his perspective.


There’s a scripture I refer to whenever I am putting my mind to an action or a task.  “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”Colossians 3:17 ESV  

Yes, God is interested in everything you do. Everything. Doing life in the name of the Lord Jesus isn’t about putting a religious spin on what you say and do. It’s about motives, a way of thinking that places God as the highest reason for our very existence. This is a down to earth, practical approach to reality.  To do anything in life apart from God is sin. To rely on self is the total opposite of glorifying God. No, God won’t change your flat tire; that’s your job. However, Christ living His life through you means your efforts, the energy you apply to a situation or skill, will be empowered by the very presence of the Spirit who lives in you. All of life is spiritual, including the mundane stuff of life like laundry and dishes. Fixing broken fences and building campfires, repainting the house, and repairing the toilet all are sacred skills God can use. When you grasp even a modicum of God’s complete sovereignty over all things and His deep love for you, you will want to do everything for Him and by Him and through Him.

What’s in your wheelhouse?

David Riffel

© 2018


David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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