Dirty Kitchens ..
DARE Women's Conference 2009

Sharpen the Saw

Saw Ecclesiastes 10:10 states: "Using a dull axe requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That's the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed (NLT)." There a lot of wisdom here . . . if we'll stop and think about it.

Imagine finding someone in the woods working hard sawing down a tree. “What are you doing?”, you ask. “Can't you see?” comes the impatient reply. “I'm sawing down this tree.” “You look exhausted!” you exclaim. “How long have you been at it?” “Over five hours,” he replies, “and I'm dead tired! This is hard work.” “Well, why don't you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen the saw?” you inquire. “I'm sure it would go a lot faster.” “I don't have time to sharpen the saw”, the man says emphatically. “I'm too busy sawing.” It sounds funny but how true it can be in our own busy lives.

Stephen Covey in his best-selling book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People refers to this as Habit 7, which is taking time to "Sharpen the Saw." It's all about preserving and enhancing one of the greatest assets you have - you.

Let's briefly look at for dimensions of your life that need regular renewal:

1. The Spiritual Dimension. Spend time in conversation with God and meditation on the Scriptures, which represent your value system. Investing time in your spiritual life should not be a mechanical duty but a source of power in releasing and multiplying your energies. Finding peace with God and walking with Him on a daily basis is the key to all other aspects of our life (see Psalm 27:14. Isaiah 40:28-31).

2. The Physical Dimension. Care for your physical body by eating the right foods, getting sufficient rest and relaxation, and exercising on a regular basis for endurance, flexibility and strength (see 1 Timothy 4:8).

3. The Mental Dimension. Many people cease from any form of continued learning after they finish formal education. We tend to stop reading and exploring new subjects. We don't write or think analytically any more. Give time to reading, writing, thinking and planning on a regular basis (see Proverbs 4:5,7).

4. The Social/Emotional Dimension. Give time to strengthen your personal relationships on a regular basis. Spend time with people who are emotionally replenishing.

Balance

We need to exercise all four dimensions of our nature, regularly and consistently in wise and balanced ways. Any dimension that is neglected will have a negative affect on our overall life.

When it comes to personal renewal, no one else can do it for us. We must do it for ourselves. It is the single most powerful investment we can ever make in life. These things are not urgent but they are extremely important to our lives.

Here are a few practical suggestions:

1. Make a list of renewing activities in your spiritual and mental dimensions and then set daily or weekly goals for each one.

2. Make a list of relationships you would like to improve or develop and set a goal to do so.

3. Make a list of activities that would help you keep in good physical shape, that would fit your lifestyle and that you could enjoy over time.

4. Commit to write down specific “sharpen the saw” activities in all four dimensions every week, to do them, and to evaluate the benefits.

5. Develop a daily habit of giving one hour to “sharpen the saw” activities.

Is it time to stop and sharpen the saw?

Comments

As a relatively new Christian and a student of Christian counselling, I thought this article held some valid points, even though there was a noticible abscence of reference to Christ. So I have googled 'Stephen Covey Christianity', and would advise others to do like wise as Mr Covey is a Mormon and inaccordance with this man's integrity, he bases his work on the Mormon beliefs.So the lesson I have learnt [yet again lol] is to be wary of what you read.

Thanks for your comment, Gail.

This post was based on some wisdom from Solomon in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. 'Sharpening the axe' or the 'saw' is a good metaphor for life renewal - something Jesus and people like Paul did often (Jesus regularly pulled aside from the crowd for prayer, etc).

I read Covey's book many years ago and noticed a lot of his teaching was based directly or indirectly on Christian principles and biblical teaching.

Like you, recently, I discovered his Mormon faith, so I agree, we should ensure everything is filtered through God's Word. As the Bereans did (Acts 17:11), we need to check everything we hear and read as to whether it lines up with the Scriptures.

Thanks

Re the social/emotional dimension, I agree that spending time with emotionally replenishing people is good, but don't you think that we need to give time to the emotionally needy as well? I once visited a church where a sermon was preached in which the pastor told his congregation that "negative" people should be avoided. That's a distortion, and definitely not Biblical.

Many people cease from any form of continued learning after they finish formal education. We tend to stop reading and exploring new subjects. We don't write or think analytically any more. Give time to reading, writing, thinking and planning on a regular basis (see Proverbs 4:5,7).

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