Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sharp or dull?

I have a couple of axes that belonged to my father and to my grandfather before him. A good ax is quite indestructible.

The effectiveness of an ax is determined by the quality of the metal, the sharpness of the blade, and the skill of the user. No matter how skillful the user may be, a dull ax makes it difficult to cut wood.

Dullness comes from lack of use, misuse, neglect, as well as from ordinary use – the harder the wood, the faster dullness occurs.

Dullness happens inexorably and often imperceptively. Perhaps there should be a bumper sticker that reads, “Dullness happens!” Unless a person is alert to the dulling of his blade, he may not realize that he is working harder with less results.

To keep an ax at peak performance, it must be sharpened regularly (on a schedule) as well as periodically as needed. Further, in order to sharpen an ax, you have to stop working with it. But sharpening time is not wasted. Ultimately the “down time” for sharpening maintains and significantly increases productivity.

Proverbs 27:17 is a great reminder that these observations apply to me and my work: “As iron sharpens iron, so one many sharpens another.”

I get dull! If I’m not alert, I may not recognize how much harder I’m working and how my productivity has declined. I need to stop working at times to engage in sharpening.

Sharpening is the result of contact (sometimes abrasive contact) with other people. Contact with other metal may sharpen an ax or dull an ax, even as my contact with another person may do either depending on the angle of impact.

Some people sharpen me and others hasten the dulling process. Sometimes if I make a slight adjustment in our contact, I can turn a dulling experience/person into a sharpening one. Some people will never be sharpeners. I need to be sure that I get away from them long enough to get near someone who sharpens me.

I bring sharpness or dullness to others. It all depends on how I connect with them.


Jody said...

You sharpen me! Thank you. I am learning to seek the things in this world that sharpen me...and am finding more and more, that my list of things/people gets shorter, the 'sharper' I become. It's part of the refining process, and so much of our culture doesn't really 'get it'. Truth gets distorted so easily...and slowly at times, that you are right, dullness just seems to happen. Thank you for this reminder that I need to 'be on guard'. I am also seeking to turn that around and 'be a light' as well. =)

patterns of ink said...

Today is the first chance I've had to come here. These inspirational thoughts were perfect in our morning meeting Tuesday. Thanks for sharing them with the staff and our guests (and for the call today). Having the re-accreditation visit behind us is great, but those three days were a mutual time of iron sharpening iron. Great picture and title!