Is it a Forest or a Bunch of Trees?

31 Mar

Some people see every tree and can count them, tell you the day they first broke the soil, describe the precise height of each tree and where the leaves lie. Hopefully these people are getting paid to know that kind of detail, but either way, they know the details. This is tremendous knowledge, to be sure, but sometimes that is not the information you need.

That leads me to another person, who does not know the specifics of each tree, but he does know the forest. He knows the best place to enter or exit. He knows what is around the forest. He knows why someone would enter the forest, and what they are likely to see when they get in the forest, but sometimes that is not the information you need.

While I believe there are better analogies, this one has the back-story of years of use that allow me to skip a better explanation. In an ideal world, someone would know the forest and know the trees, but the human brain power being limited and the time for study not as abundant, most will fall into a trap of being one or the other.

At various points in my life, I have felt that I have erred in one direction or another of whatever the proper balance is. Maybe, just maybe, that is the key. Without omniscience, there may be no way to have the proper balance. It is possible that we err continuously in one of the two, because we just can’t do it all.

While that may be hollow consolation when you run into a situation like I did this last week, it could be. I just refuse to accept it personally. This week I had a situation where I have been looking at the big picture. I had a tremendous view of everything that was going on and I felt I had it handled. It just so happened that the guy I was working with was staring at a tree and just couldn’t get over the fact that I neglected that tree.

As I think about that potential of impossibility, I know that I press forward with the hopes that I will have the perfect balance soon. I work to learn the forest and the trees. And since my latest escapade where I erred on the side of being too globally focused, I am sure the next experience I have (if there is one) will be one where I study each tree too much.

The real question is how do we know what the proper thing to prioritize is in each situation. And as I look at how I’ve compensated for my shortfalls over the years, I’ve tried to bring in people that complement me. While I struck gold with my wife, Kelly, I still find that in some areas of my life, I am not as well augmented as I could be.

If I am worried that I will fail, I’ve already put my belief in me, which is really the wrong person. So as I continue to struggle, I will know that the only real way I can approach completeness in any area is to call on the One who does know it all. I will continue to lean on God, so that my weaknesses can bring forth His strengths and hope that I never again overvalue the forest (or the trees).

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2 Responses to “Is it a Forest or a Bunch of Trees?”

  1. Kelly West March 31, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

    Great stuff!

  2. Jenni September 11, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

    This was a great piece about prioritizing, and I particularly liked the first sentence of your last paragraph.

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