Sharpen the Saw


This phrase is from Stephen Covey’s classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and is actually quoting Abraham Lincoln. The book is a must-read for everyone–if you don’t have the book, you need to go and get it!

Covey’s 7th habit is Sharpen the Saw, and is a reference is to personal renewal. He identifies four areas that we need to personally guard. Below is an abridged version of the four fundamental areas:

  1. Mind: read, educate, write, learn new skills
  2. Soul: meditate, keep a journal, pray, take in quality media
  3. Heart: build relationships, give service, laugh and love
  4. Body: exercise, eat healthy, sleep and rest, relaxation

Often I will summarize these needs by telling leaders:

The most important thing you can do for others is to keep encouraging yourself!

In 1 Samuel 30, David encounters what can be considered to be the lowest point in his life: demoralized and vilified by his friends, wives and children of both David his men taken by enemies, and their houses burned to the ground. David’s response to the compounded tragedies?
“David encouraged himself in the Lord….(1 Samuel 30:6)

As leaders, we influence others. To have the best influence, we need to be our best. We are at our best when we sharpen the saw—and when we keep encouraging ourselves!