Daily D – Ecclesiastes 10:10
Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed. (NLT)
Remember: The duller the ax the harder the work; Use your head: The more brains, the less muscle. (MSG)
This is one of my all-time favorite verses. I discovered its full meaning while shoveling, um, excrement.
1. Choose the right tool for the job.
2. Use the tool as designed.
3. Understand and properly apply the difference between effectiveness and efficiency.
We were not chopping trees with axes, but the principle is similar. The big idea is found in the second sentence in this verse. Knowledge is applied by swinging an axe at a tree. Wisdom is applied in knowing how to swing the axe for greatest effect, and in sharpening the axe as often as necessary to maximize results.
What quote comes to mind when you consider this verse and what does it have to do with Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Covey?
So there I was, shoveling excrement, cow excrement to be precise. If you bag it and sell it, you can call it Fertilizer. If you say it was provided by cows that only eat clover and alfalfa, people will pay extra. For excrement. Wisdom might come into play here, also.
The room where cows gather before they are milked receives a lot of waste material. This happens every time you milk the cows. This is something a dairy farmer deals with daily times two.
And you thought you had a crappy job.
This room, where I learned such important life lessons, was large and rectangular. A trailer was positioned on the outside of a large glassless window. Swinging shutters were closed only in inclement weather and only until time for the scooping. Otherwise, they remained open to allow a breeze to blow, if there was one.
Imagine working in that room today with our expected high temperature of 102. Any breeze blowing in your direction will not smell like clover and alfalfa.
To clear this room, see First Things above: Choose the right tool for the job. There are different kinds of shovels. Some have points. These are good for digging holes. This job does not require holes to be dug. A pointed shovel will frustrate the one who wields it in this circumstance.
A snow shovel, something used eleven months of the year in Minnesota, provides great capacity. It also provides great weight. When a shovel-wielding farmer has to lift and toss one load of excrement after another over and over again, a lighter, more compact load is welcome.
A square-blade shovel in the hands of someone who knows how to use it is a beautiful instrument. Before we move along from this object lesson du jour, ponder a bit which direction you want to shovel the, um, stuff.
Do you a) want to start from next to the window and the trailer beyond? Or do you b) start from the far side of the room toward the window and trailer? One answer is better than the other. One requires less effort overall and less retracing of your steps. How would you apply your wisdom here?
It was in pondering these imponderables one day that I decided the daily drudgery of a college degree wasn’t so bad. I was not all that wild about spending the rest of my life shoveling excrement.
A few years later, I learned there is excrement to shovel in every endeavor. This, too, is wisdom.
Wisdom knows excrement happens. It happens to everyone everywhere. All the time. Repeatedly. There is only one thing I know to halt the excrement show.
Until all the excrement is ultimately scooped, or until our time for shoveling is done, there will more excrement to shovel. This makes a TV show from way back before high definition all the more insightful. It portrayed God as a guy who ran a combination laundromat and cafe. As I recall, he often had a mop in hand. I bet there was a square-blade shovel somewhere just offscreen.
What’s the right tool for the job today?
Choose your tools wisely and use them effectively and efficiently.
I will choose my tools wisely and use them effectively and efficiently.
Our Father, bless us with ever-greater knowledge and ever-deeper wisdom. Empower us to live, work, and play with ever-more enjoyable collaboration and recreation. Amen.
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Jonah 4:2, 3 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
Hosea 14:8, 9 “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”