Practice what you know works…

I haven’t been practicing what I know works and that is a failure of leadership.  To lead is to do what you want others to do.  Leading is not telling others what to do but then you don’t practice it yourself.  And if we do not practice what we teach it sends a message that we do not believe what we are teaching.

I catch myself failing to apply my own instruction from God’s Word or from personal experience, time to time.  I’m giving my youth leaders and students things to practice and then I find myself not even doing them when the opportunities arise.

For instance, when life is busy and overwhelming, I advise people to slow down and get with God.  It’s something that my parent’s have taught me and something I’ve learned over the years of reading.  In the midst of a busy life, Jesus makes time to pray to His father and find affirmation to continue on.  Instead of trying to do everything on my to do list by my own strength, I need to seek God who is wiser and in control of my life.  Today, my wife reminded me to do what I have always instructed her to do.  So, I did it.  And I feel refreshed.

I like what Ecclesiastes 10:10 says, “Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.”  The pulpit commentary adds, “Wisdom teaches how to conduct matters to a successful termination; for instance, it prompts the worker to sharpen his tool instead of trying to accomplish his task by an exertion of mere brute strength.”

What is the wise thing to do?  Get busy with the tasks at hand and hurrying on your own power, neglecting time from your true source of power and wisdom…Of course not.  The answer is sharpening the axe.  Prepare oneself to do hard work and complete tasks through the power and wisdom of God.  By holding off on tasks and being in  prayer, studying scripture and cooperating with the Holy Spirit, I am launching myself into life with greater, sharper, power and wisdom.  Otherwise, you may feel like you are doing all the work on your own and getting nowhere fast, at least, that’s how I feel when I don’t slow down and let God pour into me.

I love this parable from Tim Elmore’s book Habitudes, Images that Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes.  

“There is a story of two lumberjacks who challenged each other to see who could cut down more trees in one day.  At daybreak, the first one began furiously chopping down trees.  He worked up a sweat early on, and by noon had cut down sixteen trees.  The other lumberjack had only cut down four, because he took the first two hours to sharpen his axe.  As he sharpened it, his challenger laughed at him knowing he was doomed to lose the bet with all that wasted time.  
That’s when things got interesting.  By early afternoon, the first lumberjack was slowing down.  It took him almost an hour to cut down one tree, while his friend was picking up speed. How could this be?  Certainly he was as strong as his friend.  Unfortunately, strength had little to do with it.  It was all about whose axe was sharper.  The sharper the axe–the quicker the tree comes down.  By late afternoon, the lumberjack who was behind had now surpassed his friend by several trees and won easily.” 
I haven’t been sharpening my axe, as much as, I should be.  Are you practicing what you are teaching others (Spouse, children, friends, co-workers)?
We lead by a living example, not just speaking from past experiences (while past experiences are stored up wisdom it doesn’t mean we are applying them to our everyday life). We may catch ourselves instructing others, speaking from past experiences, realizing we haven’t applied that wisdom in a long time and should be.  I’m guilty of it and I’m thankful God convicts me when necessary.
I hope this helps you in whatever role you are living…a leader, a parent, a youth worker, a student or a disciple of Jesus making disciples.  Practice what you know works 🙂
Pastor Ryan

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