Thursday, May 23, 2013

Trying harder and getting less

“A dull ax requires great strength; be wise and sharpen the blade.” —Ecclesiastes 10:10 
Two legendary lumberjacks decided to have a tree-cutting contest to settle once and for all which lumberjack was the best. The contest was to take place on a Saturday—starting at five in the morning and was to continue until five in the evening. The lumberjack who felled the most trees in that twelve-hour time span would be declared the winner. The news of the contest spread, and on the big day—the timbers were filled with curious spectators.

BANG! A shot rang out to start the contest, and the two lumberjacks eagerly and methodically hacked away at trees with their axes. However, after about fifty minutes, the first lumberjack noticed that the second lumberjack quit hacking away at the trees. The lone sound of the first lumberjack’s ax filled the forest. Why did the other lumberjack quit? What could possibly be the problem? A full ten minutes went by before the first lumberjack heard the sound of the second lumberjack’s ax beating on the trees again. The first lumberjack thought to himself, “Great! I felled two trees in that ten-minute period. I’ve got to be ahead.”

Furiously, the lumberjacks continued to swing, sweat, and slice. Strangely—every hour for the next eleven hours—the second lumberjack’s ax would fall silent for about ten minutes. Then, once again, the forest would be filled with the sound of two axes conquering trees. Each time this happened, the first lumberjack worked all the harder so he could continue to increase his lead.

At the end of the day, each lumberjack’s trees were counted. Amazingly, when the final tally was announced, the second lumberjack out-cut the first lumberjack nearly two to one. The first lumberjack heatedly questioned, “How can that be? I never stopped the entire twelve hours—and he stopped to rest for at least ten minutes every hour!” To which the second lumberjack smiled and said, “I did not stop to rest—though I did rest some. While you were wasting your energy swinging a dull axe, I regularly took a few minutes to sharpen my ax—and my sharp ax increased my ability to cut down more trees.”

Cool story bro, but so what?
One of the best investments of time and money you can make, whether you are a paid staffer or a volunteer in ministry, is to sharpen your ministry ax by participating in relevant, substantive, and Biblically based training experiences. When we participate in a high quality training experience—we are taking the time to sharpen our ministry axes—so that we can go back to our ministries refreshed, refocused, and ready to impact people in a more significant way.

"But I'm too busy..."
I know you feel like you're too busy to take time out to sharpen your ax. I get it. But carefully consider this question: Have you ever been so busy driving that you didn't take time to fill up with gas? Make no mistake about it. If you and the people who serve with you in ministry don't take time to sharpen your axes, trying harder isn't going to change anything except make you more tired with less results.

"But where do I start?"
If you'd like to explore what it might take for you to bring an ax sharpening training experience to your ministry, please contact us. We'll explore your needs, various training options, and other details for making training happen in your ministry. But please contact us soon as our schedules tend to be filled several months in advance.

Since you've read this far, I have a thank you gift for you. For a limited time, I'm offering Cup O'Joe with Bill readers a chance to download the complete PDF of "Sharpening Your Ministry Ax" for FREE. You'll learn how to get the most out of a training experience, what to do during training, and how to put together an action plan after the training. And yes, I want you to share this with as many others as you can. Go here to download the free PDF.


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