I have always been someone who has tried to play through pain. So when Cal quoted Dr. Sam Chand in his message this weekend, it resonated with me.
“You will only grow to the threshold of your pain.”
- My sophomore year in high school, I strained my oblique muscle while swinging at an outside pitch. The doctor told me that it needed rest, but I could not stomach missing any portion of the baseball season, so I kept going…”Nose to the Grindstone”…and tore the muscle to end my sophomore season for good.
- Ignoring the pain in my knee on a backpacking trip (we all have ache’s and pains while backpacking, right?) almost had me stuck on a mountain as my knee finally locked up on a long downward path, refusing to carry my forty-five pound pack any further.
- “Just keep making the next right decision”…this is what I told myself over an over as my wife and I had moved up to Seattle to plant a church from scratch. It was eight years of wonderful, hard, painful work. By year eight, we were over-taxed, exhausted and had no idea why we were in so much emotional pain. Just keep making the next right decision is simply another way to say, “Keep your nose to the Grindstone” and it is great advice; however, the right decision that I didn’t make was to get my nose away from the grindstone, reflect on the journey and learn from the pain I was experiencing. I was so worried that if I took my foot off of the pedal, I would lose whatever momentum that we had in the first place. I felt I had to ignore the pain…play through it and eventually it would go away. I’ll grow through the pain…eventually.
There is some debate as to the origin of the “Grindstone” idiom, but the first citation of the phrase is found in John Frith’s, “A mirrour or glasse to know thyselfe” in 1532.
“This Text holdeth their noses so hard to the grindstone, that it clean disfigureth their faces.”
Here is what I wish that I more intuitively understood…sometimes the best decision is to recognize that keeping your nose to the grindstone will grind your nose right off! While I have always seen pain as an avenue through which we grow, what I failed to understand is that sometimes the best way to increase our threshold is to step back and examine how to grow through the pain rather than stubbornly endure it. God has been trying to teach me to stop, rest and reflect on what is happening in my life. In fact, God knew our needs and knit this very concept of rest and reflection into the rhythm of all creation when he instituted a Sabbath rest on the seventh day.
This is why we have created a yearly rhythm of reflection and learning at Central that takes place in the form of the Leadership Summit. It is two full days of rest from our usual pace and performance-oriented lives that are instead focused on reflection and growth as we hear from people who have greatly increased their threshold and their influence. I can’t tell you enough how you will be richly blessed by your experience at the Leadership Summit.
Get your nose off the grindstone!