Sharpen Your Iron

“We are only as strong as our weakest link” goes the old saying. As a team, you cannot be strong if one of the team members is weak. When I started in the fire service, my first training officer established a great foundation for me to constantly be a learner. I’ve spent the past 33 years living by that advice. I’ve studied learning organizations, failure tolerant leadership, employee development, training and education, building up others but most importantly; I’ve learned to be adaptive. A person whom I have great respect for told me that he appreciated my “modern and progressive thinking”. I found this funny because I have always believed that I was more of an “old dog” or pretty traditional in my thinking. For those of you that know me, I bet I’m not far off.

I’m working on a project right now that has put me face to face with some true “old dogs”. They have not adapted to the changing work force nor the advancements being made in municipal government. It’s easy to see how this happened to them given their self-imposed isolation. I’ve always believed that if we’ve trained and educated our people to take over for us, that we’ve done the right thing. This particular leadership team feels that if the workforce is smarter than they are, chaos will breakout. They live the mantra “knowledge is power”. Individually, this might work in the short-term but organizationally; it is the direct path to failure. I challenge every reader to reflect on how you treat co-workers, subordinates and industry peers in terms of knowledge sharing. Are you sharpening your iron using the backs of others as your grinding stone or are you sharpening your iron in conjunction with others?

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Stated in a more simpler fashion – when you share your learning of the Word with another; both of you increase in wisdom. Bible verses speak to each of us differently or they invoke different emotional responses from each person reading it. I guess that is what I hope to share with these weekly devotions. Maybe you read these and can relate to something in your own life or maybe I actually write something that opens a new point of view for you. I grow every time I write and I hope you grow in reading it.

God never wanted His word kept private or used by “only a few chosen ones”. Jesus didn’t seek disciples from the Elders, he chose simple “every day” men to follow Him and learn God’s teachings. God used Saul, a persecutor, to teach the Word. Saul was spoken to by God, given wisdom and then shared it with everyone. We read his letters today as St. Paul. He sharpened generations of believers by sharing his learning of the Word. What ripple can you start by simply sharing your learning of the Word? The knowledge is power mantra when it comes to learning and understanding the Word of God, is not power at all. The Pharisees believed they had the power because they had the knowledge but Jesus called them hypocrites. In the end, they really knew little about God’s grace and our place with Him in eternity through Jesus Christ as our savior. Stay sharp!

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