Summary: Life Management 101, part 1. Seen in Stephen Covey’s principle of sharpening the saw some basic principles set forth in scripture.
Sharpening the Saw
Series: Life Management 101
Wildwind Community Church
June 18, 2006
How many of you have heard the story told by Stephen Covey about the two men having a contest to see who could saw down a tree in the shortest time? The two men are in a forest, far from one another, so the large trees have plenty of room to fall. One man is sawing like crazy, harder and faster than ever before. As he is sawing away he looks through the forest to see how the other guy is doing. He is shocked to find the other guy sitting down on a stump, although he can’t tell what is happening. This of course makes the first man quite happy, realizing that as they are fairly evenly matched strength-wise, there is virtually no way the other guy can win after having taken this break. A few minutes later both men are sawing like crazy when the second man again sits down. The first man can’t figure out exactly what’s wrong with the second man, but he knows he has this locked in – he’s going to win for sure. He begins to slow his pace a little bit.
The other man stands up and gets back to work. With just a few strokes, his tree falls. He has won. Convinced that man #2 could only have been cheating during those breaks he took, man #1 storms over to him and says, “What’s this? There’s no way you could have won fair and square. You sat down for a couple minutes at least twice while I was working the whole time. Now out with it – what exactly were you doing when you weren’t working? The man who had won simply replied, “I was sharpening my saw.”
How many of you lead busy lives? How many of you feel like you are slaving away, sawing away at that tree called your life minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year, decade by decade? How many of you are tired and stressed out and feeling like your job, your family, your friends, your extended family, your health, your money, even your church are whizzing by your head taking pieces of you here and there with every pass, but that you barely get to acknowledge them as they whip by?
Have you ever questioned whether it makes sense to work those extra hours to save for vacation with your family at some undetermined time when instead you could work fewer hours and actually be home with your family now? Are you working toward some goal that is distant, that you’re not sure you’ll ever reach, but that takes a pound of flesh from you every day, every month, every year? Are you diligently investing in some vague future, and therefore specifically dissatisfied with your life today?
I want to talk to you about sharpening the saw this morning. Aren’t the teeth the part of the saw that give it the ability to cut down trees? I mean, what you if take some dental floss and furiously rub it across a tree for a few hours. Are you going to get anywhere? Of course not. Your saw must have teeth. And even that’s not enough. The teeth must be sharp – they must have some bite. The teeth are what make the saw effective. Bad teeth=bad saw. Good teeth=good saw that has the potential to cut down a tree. And as we see from the parable, you will cut down a tree faster and with less effort if your saw is sharpened. Man number one in our story found that the fact that he was working harder and faster didn’t make any difference – he still could not accomplish what he wished to accomplish. Man #2 was able to make his accomplishment in less time, with less effort, because he took time to sharpen the saw.
To live is to desire to accomplish things. You want to accomplish things at work, at home, at school, at play – you want to make things happen. Where do you find people who aren’t making anything happen? At the cemetery. Most of us would like to make some things happen before it’s our turn to take our place at the cemetery. Are you with me? That cemetery thing will happen for us all soon enough, but right now we have a chance to live, to make things happen, and hopefully to count our blessings, and to enjoy God and our families and our work along the way.
Yet for many of us, life whips by at 10,000 miles an hour and we find sometimes that we are barely even remembering it, much less enjoying it.