The story is told about Jed, an old man in Australia who worked on a sheep ranch. He had been around the ranch for so
many years no could count that far. He was a legend, known far and wide for his sheep-sheering ability. Anytime someone
wears the mantle of “legend” there is always some youngster that thinks he can beat him, and such was the case with
young Louis. Louis challenged old Jed to a sheep-sheering contest. The agreement was that whoever sheered the most
sheep in a day’s time would be crowned the ‘sheep king.’

The day came for the big contest. The gun sounded and each man began to sheer. A couple of hours went by and Jed
stopped his work and sat down. He took out his wet stone and began sharpening the blades on his scissors. Young Louis
kept on working feverously and gained a strong lead over Jed. By mid-day he was far ahead of old Jed. Every hour or so
that this was a tactical error on the old man’s part. Louis never stopped but kept on going hardly stopping for a drink of
water. By mid-afternoon the young man’s arms were weary, his smile was gone, and his rate of completion had dropped
off markedly. All the while old Jed just kept on sheering – not fast, but steady. One sheep after another Jed’s numbers
closed in on Louis’. Every hour or so, he would stop and sharpen his scissors, seeming to care little about the sheep
count. At the end of the day old Jed had sheered far more sheep that the younger, stronger Louis. Why? Jed used
wisdom. He knew he could do more work with less effort because he took time to rest and to keep his tools sharpened.
There are two important lessons for us ministers to learn from this simple story:

1) First of all, Jed understood his physical limitations, and

2) Secondly, he knew the importance of maintaining the tools of his trade.

We must approach our Kingdom as ministers work like Jed did his sheep work. Jed was a wise man. When we employ
wisdom in these two areas, we too will experience success as Jed did.

I cannot begin to count the number of ministers I have known over the years who defied these two fundamental truths
and paid dearly for violating them with severe physical and/or emotional problems. When we are in the service of the
Lord it is far too easy to justify to ourselves the abuse of our bodies with overwork and long hours because what we are
doing is all in the name of the Lord. The simple reality is that until we get our glorified bodies we must not violate some
common sense rules. If we do not maintain our bodies properly we will be far less productive for Jesus. Ample rest, “off
hours” each day, family vacation, days away from church-related activities, and seasons of sabbatical. These all pay off in
strong, happy, and well-maintained ministers. Jed was rewarded for his wisdom, so will we be if we follow his example.

Time management is what we are talking about on this first point. Time management never just happens as if by accident,
it is something you do on purpose and with consistent resolve. Planning is the key to time management. Plan your day,
plan your week, and plan even further, if you are able. In so doing you set a track on which you can run. It is a tool that
helps you monitor yourself which is helpful in avoiding ‘time wasters.’ You will find that time management results in two
distinct benefits: 1) more free time, and 2) less stress. Add to your planning the element of self-discipline and you have
the formula for successful time management. I want to emphasize that the plan itself must not become a tyrant to you.
Some degree of flexibility is needed within your schedule for all of those unexpected things that will come up, but commit
to it and it will serve you well.

Jed understood that a sharp pair of scissors was one of the keys to his success, so it must be with you. So what are your
“scissors?” The tools of your trade, so to speak, are such things as your knowledge of the Word of God, the anointing of
the Holy Spirit that is upon you, the bonds of relationship with your co-labors, and even your voice. Each of these tools
needs maintenance on a continual basis just as Jed stopped what he was doing from time to time to maintain his blades.
Once was not enough. Spiritual maintenance as you have probably already discovered is an ongoing activity that you
must weave into your schedule each week. To fail in this regard is to fall into the same error from which young Louis
suffered. You may start strong and look good for a while, but in the long-run you will run out of steam and maybe not
finish the work to which God has called you. That is not acceptable.

MAINTAIN YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORD OF GOD.

The man or woman of God must never fall into the trap of arrogance toward the Word of God. Those of us who have given
our lives to the Truth possess tremendous knowledge of the Bible because of our constant use of the Scriptures in
ministry and because of our formal education in college, Bible School, or seminary. Unlike other disciplines, ours is not a
finite body of knowledge. The Word is a living thing that cannot be fully captured; we are always growing in the
knowledge of it. The knowledge that we do possess must not lie on the shelves of our minds, it too must be maintained.
We maintain it, so to speak, as we meditate on it, study it, and apply it personally and professionally. In this way it rises
above mere mental knowledge into true rhema, and that is what we want. Rhema is knowledge that is supercharged by
the Holy Spirit and is anointed to manifest what it says.

MAINTAIN THE ANOINTING.

The anointing, as you know, is the power of God that works within you to accomplish His plan in and through your life.
Like most things, the anointing too must be maintained. The anointing is not something you gained by performance or
achievement so it is not perpetuated either by performance or achievement; however, the anointing can weaken and dim
through personal neglect. The servant of God who is lazy or slothful soon finds that times of ministry seem to be
somewhat anemic with only marginal fruitfulness. There is a sense that you are “on your own” in the pulpit, and this is
certainly not a good thing especially to the one who has tasted of the powerful anointing of the Spirit during times of
ministry.

PRAY IN THE SPIRIT. I recommend daily doses of praying in the Spirit. Jude had insight into this phenomenon when he
writes,

                                                       “But you beloved, building yourself up on your most
                                                                     holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.”
                                                                                          Jude 1:20

This is one of those spiritual things difficult to explain, but with or without understanding of how it actually works, the
truth is that it works. What a glorious thought it is to know that God Himself by His Spirit who indwells you speaks through
your lips to Father God!

FEED ON THE WORD OF GOD. Daily feeding on the good words of God is of utmost importance in maintaining yourself
spiritually. This is not the time to study the Word of God to prepare for the pulpit; this is personal time just for you. These
are the times you re-charge your ‘spiritual battery.’ Here is one mistake that I most often discover when I counsel pastors
and church leaders. It is not that they are not spending time in the Bible, but the time they spend is for ministry purposes
not for personal enrichment. Each has its distinct purpose. To neglect either is to diminish your ability to minister. So,
make time to eat heartily for your sake.

MEDITATE. Meditating on the Word of God is of utmost importance. Meditation is the higher level of fellowship with God –
it is spirit to Spirit. Unlike carnal forms of meditation in which one attempts to empty his mind, biblical meditation involves
filling your mind with the Truth (John 17:17) and dwelling there in your thoughts. The Holy Spirit (your Teacher) guides you
through the wonderful depths of Truth as you allow Him lead you. Of course, the challenge here is making time to get
quiet and stay that way long enough to enjoy the full benefit of true fellowship with God.

MAINTAIN THE BONDS WITH YOUR CO-LABORERS.

If you have been in ministry very long you know how absolutely important your co-workers are to you and to the
fulfillment of God’s vision for your ministry. These relationships are jewels given to you by God and to be treasured by
you. Invest time, energy, and even money into these relationships. The rewards will be never-ending.

I recommend you have regular prayer sessions with your staff. There is nothing like praying with someone to create
lasting bonds. Enjoy ‘special times’ or recreation and fun with each staff person and even with their families. Break bread
together often which builds strength into those bonds that tie you together. Just a few hours each week of ‘sharpening
this tool’ will go far in making your church or ministry strong and pleasing to the Lord Jesus.

MAINTAIN YOUR VOICE.     

I did some voice training when I was a teenager and my voice teacher trained me to vocalize before singing. She would
have me run the scales and do strange things with my voice to prepare it to be used. Athletes do the same thing in
warming up. Your work in the pulpit is critically important to the development of God’s people and to the advancement of
the Kingdom. That is why you must not abuse it by launching into preaching and teaching before it is warmed up and
ready to go. Do some vocal exercises daily to keep your voice in shape.


                                                                         FINAL ADMONITION

As a servant of God, you are an invaluable asset to the Kingdom of God and to His plan for the earth. Guard yourself
accordingly. Do all within your power to maintain YOU so on the final Day you can stand before God and hear His words to
you, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” I say, “Amen.”
KEEP YOUR EDGE SHARP!
By Bishop Randy Barnett