Monday, September 10, 2012

The Cutting Edge: Thoughts from a 57-Year-Old "Saw"

Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. Mark 6:30-32 (NKJV)

Stephen Covey writes about two men who took their saws into the forest to cut trees.  One worked incessantly but became irritated with his partner for taking occasional breaks.  How could he abandon him, with all the work that was to be done?   Oh, well.  He decided in his frustration that he would work even harder and show his buddy how much more he had accomplished at day’s end.  But that was the strange part about it all.  When the two men finished, the one who never stopped sawing had brought down fewer trees than friend who apparently quit working several times!  How could it be?  Actually, the reason was quite simple.  Every time the second man left the scene, he did so in order to sharpen his saw.  As a result, he achieved far more, never forcing a dull saw to do more than it could handle.  He had balanced the need to be productive with the need to care for the producer. (Picture source:

Life can be like that.  Are you too busy to read for pleasure?  Have you postponed lunch with a friend … skipped breakfast … canceled a family outing or a doctor’s appointment … quit playing solitaire … felt overwhelmed by the clutter in your home or on your desk … remarked to others how busy you feel … cut your sleep time … begun doing two or three things at once … lacked the time to exercise … responded irritably when your children ask you to play or look at their projects … found there is no opportunity to pray, read the Word, and share Jesus with your family?  Do you keep thinking that at some point you will be able to catch up and relax, but you never do?  If so, you may not be producing as much as you think, and you may be wearing out the “saw” - yourself - in the process.

Today, on my 57th birthday, I am more convinced of this principle than ever. You really will fell more trees if you balance cutting with sharpening.  More than that, you will actually enjoy the time you spend in the forest.  Stop.  Meditate.  Pray.  Think.  Dream.  Listen.  Sing.  Then go get ‘em!

It has been over three years since I posted this article. I am even more convinced now than I was then of the truth it reflects. God bless.

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