Steven Covey wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. His seventh habit is called “Sharpen the Saw.” Covey uses the common analogy of a woodcutter who is sawing for several days straight and is becoming less and less productive. The process of cutting dulls the blade. So the solution is to periodically sharpen the saw.
He tells the story of two lumber jacks in the woods sawing down trees. One of them is working feverishly at the task, rarely stopping to take a break. The other is working at a slower but steady pace and takes breaks frequently. At the end of the day, the lumberjack working at the slower pace has cut down twice as many trees as the one working feverishly. When questioned by the worn out, tired lumberjack as to how he accomplished twice as much in the same amount of time, and working at a slower pace, his answer is quiet simple: “I took time out to sharpen my saw.”
He writes, “Sharpening the saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have – you.”
With summer ending and four months left to 2009, how will you sharpen your saw spiritually? How will you renew your spirit so you can better hear, serve and love God? What aspect of your lifestyle is dull and overworked?
Here are ten ideas for saw sharpening. Chose one or more (but don’t over do it) to concentrate on between now and December 31st:
1. Pray – spend some longer time in prayer. I find when I begin each day with silent meditation and worship, the rest of the day goes better. Try a new devotional. Write out your prayers.
2. Attend a one day workshop/retreat. Even Jesus went away for refreshment. Search out a place of renewal to nurture your spirit.
3. Read a book – I have several new books on spiritual formation I plan to study this fall. Read a chapter in the Bible you haven’t read for awhile. Study the Psalms or Proverbs.
4. Journal – This is one of my favorite holy habits and one I have neglected a lot this summer. I hope to journal more often this fall.
5. Simplify – what is one thing to let go of, get rid of, unclutter or no longer do? This can be really difficult. I had several goals for this year that no longer seem to fit so think I will set those aside and quit feeling guilty for not trying them.
6. Serve – how will you serve the kingdom this fall? I prayfully will continue to serve once a month at the Medical Free Clinic and also fill the pastor’s request to help with Wednesday evening adult study
7. Study – so as I help other grow mentally and spiritually, how will I study this fall? I am taking an online course on the American Religious Experience and the history of Christianity in the US and Canada.
8. Listen – I caught myself just today interrupting with MY thoughts/opinions as someone else spoke. And I call myself a spiritual director, ha! Really hearing what someone else is saying is hard work but one I value so will continue to work on this. Who are you not listening to?
9. Relationships – One goal I have accomplished this year is reconnecting with people I miss in my life. What fun this has been. My prayer is to be open to other opportunities to deepen my friendship with others yet this year.
10. Worship/celebrate – My spirit is refreshed when I focus more on God than myself in worship. It is not about me after all. Are you fully engaged when celebrating what God has done in your life? I confess I fail often at this as I let little things distract my heart from God.
The Holy Spirit is present, ready to sharpen our saws and refresh our spirits. We only need to be open to his ways and be obedient to his guidance.
How will you open your heart to God’s deepening within you this fall?