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Sharpening the Saw

SHARPENING THE SAW!
March 2, 2015

Suppose you were to come upon someone in the woods working feverishly to saw down a tree?  "What are you doing?" you ask.  "Can't you see?  I 'm sawing down a tree."  comes the impatient reply.  "You look exhausted!"  you exclaim.  "How long have you been at it?"  "Over five hours," he returns, "and I'm beat!  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 be a lot faster."  "I don't have time to sharpen the saw," the man says emphatically.  "I'm too busy sawing!"

This parable from the late Steven Covey's former #1 Bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, illustrates the need that we all possess to properly prepare ourselves for the tasks that God has called us to carry out.  We are instruments in the Lord's hands.  To be effective, we need to recognize the importance of taking time to "sharpen the saw."  It involves not only preserving but also enhancing the gifts and abilities that we possess.

There are two immediate applications that I am able to make from this parable.  The first relates to my own personal health.  I tend to overextend myself and do not take time to rest.  My workaholic tendencies sometimes catch up with me and I find myself completely exhausted.  I am not bionic.  The truths of Isaiah 40:29-31 hit home, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not be weary; they will walk and not faint.."  I cannot continue to run at a rapid pace and expect to remain healthy.  I must draw upon His strength.  I must continually "sharpen the saw."

The second application relates to the mission of many Christian colleges and universities across North America.  They are in the saw sharpening business.  They are involved in developing and equipping men and women for effective service in the church and the world.  Students are in the process of being sharpened.  This process takes place in the classroom, in the library, and in chapel services, but it also happens through community service and student ministries, through co-curricular leadership opportunities, and through the relationships that are developed between faculty, staff, and students.  Perhaps Proverbs 27:17 states it most effectively, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."  It is my prayer  that God will continue to "sharpen the saw" in the lives of thousands of students who are involved in Christ-centered higher education.

Larry J. McKinney
Higher Education Consultant

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