There was a young man whose aspiration in life was to be a lumberjack. He thought it would be the greatest job ever, so he went out and bought himself a good, top of the line ax and went out job hunting. He was finally hired on with a good company and set out on his first day to go out and cut some trees down. His supervisor told him what area he was responsible for, so he pulled out his ax and went for it. He worked hard all day long, only stopping long enough for a quick bite to eat. After hours and hours of chopping and chopping, he decided to call it a day. He had cut down 27 trees. Not bad for a first timer, eh? That evening he joined several of his fellow lumberjacks for an evening of rest from their hard day. One man turned to him and asked "How many trees did you get today?" The young man proudly informed them of his 27 trees. He was puzzled when they all looked at one another and chuckled, telling him "don't worry, it's only because it was your first day...you'll do better next time." Upon inquiring from each of them their number of trees for the day, one said 33, another 35, another 37, and so on. The next day he started out, determined to cut more trees than he did before so he could go back and be on the same level with the rest of the men. He threw himself wholeheartedly into his work, working without any breaks or rests through the entire day. That evening, he joined the men, fully satisfied with the 34 trees that he had cut down that day. The men just smiled and nodded as they continued to encourage him to keep trying. What were their numbers for the day? 38...42...45... The young man was more determined than ever to raise his number of trees. The next day was the same story. No rests, nothing but hard work, cutting and cutting all day long until he was exhausted. Once again, when he spoke to the other men, he was behind. Finally in complete exasperation he spoke up. "How is it that I work just as hard as you all do, even harder since I don't even take any breaks, and I'm always at least 6 trees behind the rest of you?!" One of the older lumberjacks replied, "I understand that you have great determination and admirable strength and zeal, but when was the last time you took the time to stop and sharpen your ax?"
It is good to have passion and zeal when we're in ministry and doing our best to serve God. However, we can't effectively serve or make any progress if we don't take the time to sharpen our ax by spending time in God's Word and in prayer. Prepare yourself, equip yourself, allow God to encourage you and give you direction and strength...THEN go out and tackle the world.