At church today, the guest pastor told a story about two guys in a day long woodcutting contest and how one guy kept taking breaks all day. At the end of the day, the guy who chopped continuously didn’t win because the other fellow wasn’t just taking breaks—he was sharpening his axe. I love it.
When I web-searched the tale, several versions came up and the follow quote from Abraham Lincoln: Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
The pastor’s point was that we need to rest our minds sometimes and we need to work smart as well as work hard. In my community, single mothers are often the hardest working people because they are making up for early life decisions. When I worked in a job training program with these women, they would often say that life would have been much better if they listened to their parents and the folks at school and church.
My politically moderate friends and I think that who the president is secondary to who you are. In other words, most of our problems boil down to CDC—choices, decisions and consequences. Sharpening the axe involves preparing with education in the classroom and preparing for life by respectfully listening to those who have travelled the road you are about to take.
Today, young people in my community would rather listen to those who glamorize the thug life in song. As the White House and Congress cuts federal spending, I think that a good balance would be telling the American people honestly that many of their wounds are self-inflicted. I need Rep. Sanford Bishop, Rep. Austin Scott, the Obamas and even rich Mitt Romney to speak more about their successes that resulted from listening to their parents, studying hard in school and slowly growing their careers. Yes, Romney was born into money but there are great life lessons in the missionary work of his church. Sharpen the axe.
Working smart for families on my block also includes helping their children understand that the conspicuous consumption of designer gear isn’t need for back to school. These kids should sit down in class, learn the information and do their homework. Period. But, we (the people who look like me) get caught up with keeping up the Joneses—that’s why Johnny can’t read. So, parents are working overtime to purchase $200 sneakers for kids who most play sports on video games that also cost upward of $200. Really?
Finally, we can’t say enough about sharpening the axe by hanging with positive, reasonable people. I will get in trouble for saying it but I am amazed by the girls from good homes who have kids too early with unprepared guys. Kids should graduate from high school then go to technical college, four year college, the military or start climbing the work ladder. But, these young people should wait until the 23 to 26 years old range to get married and start families because before that they don’t know who they are nor do they know what they need in a mate.
I want to hear Obama, Romney or some candidate go off on America about Lincoln’s principle of sharpening the axe.