Learning to Whistle While You Work

whistlework1There is an old German saying that addresses the importance of self-discipline and your priorities: “Whoever does not respect the penny is not worthy of the dollar.” The essence of this quote seems to be: If you neglect or ignore the small things, you can’t be trusted with larger things.

Neglect in one area of your life might be inconsequential if it happens once; however, when there’s a pattern of neglect it becomes a habit, and habits are the routines and practices that either confine you or refine you.

Most of us are like a stringed instrument, and we need to be re-tuned from time to time.  The word tune has several meanings:

  • As a noun it means, “a succession of musical sounds forming an air or melody, with or without the harmony accompanying it; a musical setting in four-part harmony; the state of being in the proper pitch.”
  • As a verb it means, “to give forth a musical sound; to be in harmony or accord; become responsive.”

It only takes a small incremental turn of the peg to make a big change in the tightness of a string and a dramatic change in the sound of a violin or guitar.  The same is true with your life—small changes can make a big difference.

To make these changes, I suggest that you:

  • Learn from Santa Claus: Make a list and check it twice.  Which of your habits are being naughty or nice to you, and which one help you live in harmony with God?
  • Focus: When you tune a violin or guitar, you don’t turn all of the pegs and adjust all of the strings at once.  You focus on one at a time. Instead of trying to develop several new habits and make multiple changes, make them one at a time.
  • Be Discriminate: Eliminate the non-essentials and practice the essentials.  The one sucks the blood of life out of you while the other revitalizes you.
  • Learn from the 7 Dwarfs: Whistle while you work, and find some joy in what you’re doing.  Be Happy, not Grumpy!
  • Circle the Wagons: When I was a kid, one of my favorite TV shows was Wagon Train.  At the end of the day, Ward Bond would instruct the westward bound settlers to “Circle the wagons.”  This provided a circle of safety for the pioneers.  If Ward Bond was speaking to you, he would tell you to “Circle yourself with good friends and people of character.”
  • Learn from David: In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch (Psalm 5:3).”  Meet with God daily to pray, and plan for success.

The power of small acts is found in the words of Samuel Smiles:

Sow a thought, and you reap an act;

Sow an act, and you reap a habit;

Sow a habit, and you reap a character;

Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.”

― Samuel Smiles

Psalm 37 or Scripture Guitar-Players Hate

There are three times in Psalm 37 where we are told that we should not play the guitar. This statement is supported by the three words found in verses 1, 7, and 8: Do not fret.

If you notice the diagramed picture of the guitar, Fret-Diagram2you can see that frets are an important part of a guitar. To be a skilled guitar player, the musician finds fretting to be an essential.

Well, I guess it’s time to let the guitar-players off the hook. The fret on a guitar is a noun, and the word “fret” as used in this Psalm is a verb.

Fretting, as used in Psalm 37, is the idea of a smoldering worry or anger that becomes a consuming blaze. You probably know someone who frets over most decisions or every item of life in general. They are consumed by anxious attitudes and worry.

In this Psalm, David gives Five Facts to Free us from Fretting:

Fact #1: Trust in the Lord, and do good” (Psalm 37:3). This is a heads and tails coin-like approach: Heads is the intellectual side of the coin that involves trust (Psalm 118:8-9). The flip-side of the coin is tails and it is the practical aspect of doing good (Romans 12:21).

Remember this as TRUSTING and TASKING. The trusting is an attitude and the tasking is an action. The moments of worry are managed by the movements of your heart, hands, and feet as you do begin the task of doing good.

Fact#2: “Delight thyself also in the Lord” (Psalm 37:4). It is impossible to be a delight-er and a fright-er at the same time. The idea in the Hebrew is to pamper yourself in God, and this accomplished by polishing the heart with the principles of God’s word (Matthew 6:33).

Fact #3: “Commit thy way unto the Lord” (Psalm 37:5). This is the decision to “choose the way of truth (Psalm 119:30-33).” To follow this thought, contrast the commitment of Demas in Colossians 4:14 and 2 Timothy 4:10.

Fact #4: “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7). The prophet Zechariah captured the meaning of this when he said: “Let all people be silent before the Lord, for He is coming from His holy dwelling (Zechariah 2:13).” Focus your thoughts on the majestic power of God and not on the circumstances of life.

Fact #5: “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath” (Psalm 37:8). The idea is to turn from the burn. Make the conscious decision to focus your attention on something else. FRET

As I’ve said before, I like to read The Message for its devotional value. Notice how it phrases this verse: “Bridle your anger, trash your wrath, cool your pipes—it only makes things worse. Before long the crooks will be bankrupt; God-investors will soon own the store.”

You can grasp the principles of Psalm 37 by becoming verb-conscious and embracing the relationship as seen in the graphic to the left.