Sharpening Your Tools

Are you ever apprehensive to do something again because you’ve tried it before and it didn’t work out?

I love to work with wood, but I’m still an amateur woodworker at best. Several years ago I purchased an inexpensive hand plane, which should be an indispensable tool for creating a perfectly flat surface.

But my experience with the hand plane has been turbulent at best. Every time I bring it out it chips out large chunks of wood and it takes all my effort to make a single pass. I’ve tried adjusting all the screws and nobs, and done everything else I can imagine, and it still wouldn’t work. My assumption has always been that my plane is just a piece of junk.

Then, several weeks ago I read an article on restoring old hand planes. It described how the tool could be cleaned, adjusted, and sharpened. I studied the article thoroughly, but when it called for $200-300 worth of sharpening stones I put the article down; I don’t have that kind of money to spend.

Recently, as I was finishing up a project, I realized that the only tool that would work for my situation was a hand plane. Remembering the article, I pulled out my plane and made one last attempt to fix it.

Hand plane schematic

Even without the special sharpening stones I was able to find some adequate methods for adjusting and sharpening my blade. After reassembling it, I put the planer to the test. Voila! It worked! It sliced through my wood like butter.

Every Christian is an ambassador for Heaven—an active agent for spreading good will about God. We can’t passively live a Christian life; God calls us to put our talents to work! But many of us try out our witnessing tools only to find they don’t work correctly or they’re clumsy. As a result, we put them down and try doing other things. We say, “That’s just not my calling.” But the fact is, God has called all of us to personal evangelism and has given each of us a set of tools for the job. That your first efforts didn’t work is not evidence that you’re not called; it’s evidence that you need to learn how to tune up and use your tools.

So how can you get the knowledge to tune-up your outreach skills? You have two options: 1) Read the best books on witnessing and do your best to put their advice into practice. 2) Find an experienced, successful mentor who can help you along the process of fine-tuning your skills.

Working with my hand plane I found that my tune-up job only went so far—the recommended sharpening stones are still necessary if I plan to use my plane on harder woods. In the same way, self-teaching will work to an extent, but if you want to fine-tune your skills, you’ll need a professional mentor. That’s where schools like Northwest Mission Institute come in. They are designed for one purpose: to train and educate for successful service in outreach evangelism leadership.

So, maybe you’ve been like me and waited until the last minute before tuning up your tools. Don’t wait any longer! Paul says, “Indeed, the ‘right time’ is now. Today is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). How sad it would be if God’s people refused to learn how to use their outreach tools. Will you bury your talents unused or will you say yes to God’s call to put your tools to work in the Gospel harvest?

“God calls for laborers; but He wants those who are willing to submit their wills to His, and who will teach the truth as it is in Jesus. One worker who has been trained and educated for the work, who is controlled by the Spirit of Christ, will accomplish far more than ten laborers who go out deficient in knowledge and weak in the faith. One who works in harmony with the counsel of God, and in unity with the brethren, will be more efficient to do good than ten will be who do not realize the necessity of depending upon God and of acting in harmony with the general plan of the work.”

Review and Herald, May 29, 1888.

Written by Jason Worf