Have you heard the story about Luther and Jerry?
As the story goes, these two good old boys had a major disagreement which they couldn’t resolve. They figured the best way to settle the dispute was with a chainsaw—the winner would be the guy who fell the greatest number of trees on Jerry’s farm in eight hours. Given the fact that the heavily treed piece of property needed to be thinned out, the contest was a win-win situation in their minds.
The following Saturday morning Luther and Jerry got busy. Luther was so intent on cutting down the most trees that, although it was extraordinarily hot and humid, he stopped only long enough to wipe the sweat from his forehead. As the morning came and went, Luther’s tree pile continued to grow. He skipped lunch and continued to push himself hard. Every couple of hours, however, Luther would steal a glance across the way to see how his friend Jerry was doing.
On more than one occasion Luther noticed something that didn’t make sense: Jerry was sitting down. Sitting down? Luther almost scoffed at the thought of taking a break. There was no possible way Jerry could win if he wasn’t working every available minute . . . or so Luther thought.
At the end of the day the two men took account of their efforts and, hands down, Jerry had cut significantly more trees than Luther. Being a man of his word, Luther conceded the win as well as the argument to Jerry. At the same time, Luther just had to understand how he could have lost when he never took a break from the work while Jerry took one an hour.
Jerry said, “That’s easy. When I was sitting down, Luther, I was sharpening my saw.”
I cannot say whether or not this story actually took place. But it does make sense. Taking a break to sharpen my saw is one of the best ways to improve my productivity in the long run. I believe God built that principle into the creation story when He gave us Sunday as a weekly opportunity to take a break from our labor to relax, reflect, and become refreshed.
In addition to a weekly time of saw-sharpening, there’s nothing quite like getting away for a mini-retreat. You know, taking an extended break from the daily grind with good friends who offer a fresh perspective and mutual encouragement. I recently had the opportunity to do just that with fourteen men—guys who I respect.
Our group went fly-fishing in the Adirondack Mountains and, I’m happy to report, I caught four fish! But more thrilling than angling for a fresh catch were the great conversations about life and our shared faith. (That’s me sitting with Peb Jackson, my first boss when I came to Focus on the Family.) I can’t say enough about the benefit of being around a group of men to stretch my thinking and expand my vision. It was a time of much needed “saw sharpening” for me.
How about you?
When was the last time you got away with a few friends to unplug, detox, relax, and replenish your soul? It goes without saying that you don’t have to travel to upstate New York or any other popular fishing spot—and you don’t even have to fish—in order to gain the benefit that comes from taking a much needed break. With the crazy holidays looming ahead, perhaps now is the perfect time to plan a quiet camping trip with friends.
I highly recommend it!