Sharpen the Axe

May Newsletter, 2021  Rick McPherson

Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”  Honest Abe knew something about cutting down trees and sharp axes! 

Often I stumble on the cable TV shows that feature loggers and their various outdoor skills. I watch with interest as they balance precariously on big wet logs and see who can stay on by feverishly and often futilely running on the slippery bark.  It’s mindless entertainment.  But, there is an important lesson that can be learned as it involves the wood chopping events.   The competitors are fastidious when it comes to the sharpness of their blades.  Sharp as a scalpel would not be an exaggeration.  They want their axes to be like razors.  After all, chopping through a 12” pine log in 14.12 seconds is not for the faint of heart!                   (Stihl Timbersports, 2019 U.S. Championship Results)

It was Dr. Stephen Covey, in his book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, who defined this in his chapter, “Sharpen Your Axe”, by having a balanced strategy to renew yourself in the four aspects of life:  Physical, Social, Mental and Spiritual.

  • Physical:  Eat well.  Sleep well.  Exercise well.
  • Social/Emotional:  Have a good social life.  Build meaningful relationships.
  • Mental:  Learn something new.  Read something new.  Write something new.
  • Spiritual:  Worship.  Pray.  Read and meditate on Scripture.  Relax in nature. 

Every day is a brand new opportunity to recharge, renew and refine yourself.  Devote some time into sharpening your axe instead of chopping away with a dull blade.  You can work smarter, instead of harder and longer. 

Solomon, commonly referred to as, the “wisest” man who ever lived, said,

“If the axe is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.” Ecclesiastes 10:10

So, what have we learned?  We’ve heard from Abraham Lincoln, loggers from the U.S. championship competition, Dr. Stephen Covey and last, but not least, Solomon.  They all say the same thing. You can choose to keep chopping with a dull axe and accomplish less. You can work harder and work longer.


Take a break.  Sharpen your axe.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m retrieving my whetstone and sharpening my blade.


Special Note:

In the midst of the Covid19 pandemic, the ministry of Pacific NW Outreach, Inc., helping Native Americans, physically and spiritually, has continued.  We are extremely thankful to God and you, our faithful donors, for the ongoing support, even in these difficult and yes, challenging days, in which we live.  May God bless you for your generosity, compassion and faithfulness.   Only Heaven knows the results of what has been achieved, as we have worked together.