If the axe is dull and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but wisdom brings success.
There is a lot of power in this simple little observation. When you hear it, you think “Well that’s pretty obvious!” yet it is amazing how often I will keep on chopping with a blunt axe, apparently more willing to invest more and more energy into each blow for less and less result, rather than simply taking a few moments out to sharpen it.
This applies to many things in life, but perhaps most especially to one’s spiritual life. How many people persevere unthinkingly with an unfruitful spiritual activity – with empty prayers, for example, or disasterous ways of dealing with others – and never think to stop and sharpen the axe?
Ten minutes to think and pray about praying could make the world of difference for all the hours of praying I have yet to do in my life! Ten minutes of analyzing what I did wrong, that so upset someone today, could save me dozens of lost hours trying to solve similar future problems, as well as saving both of us the horrible negative feelings that go beside these disputes.
I often desire the sharpness of my axe that will smoothly and effortlessly cut through the red tape of life. Yet far less often do I trouble to stop what I’m doing and walk over to the sharpening wheel.