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The importance of being an anvil
are you strong enough to shape others?
Dealing with people is often difficult. Dealing with difficult people can be like doing life on hard mode. My dad has always challenged me with this thought //
“Are you an anvil that other people can beat their life and leadership out on?" // Keith Craft
In 1828, Noah Webster published his American dictionary of the English language. It took him 28 years and he learned 26 languages to complete it. Because of the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, words like colour in the UK became color in America. And waggon became wagon. His dictionary contains seventy thousand words, over six thousand Bible references and remains one of the only mainstream dictionaries to use Bible references to demonstrate the meaning of words. He also famously said that "Education is useless without the Bible."
what is an anvil
The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines an anvil as // “An iron block with a smooth face, on which smiths hammer and shape their work. Figuratively, any thing on which blows are laid.“
An anvil is anything that gets hit hard. I feel that. There have been many times in my life where I feel like I’m being hammered on things over and over and over again.
When a weapon is completed, it stops getting hammered. I’m not sure that God created me as a weapon. Why? It doesn’t seem like the hammering is ever going to stop. An anvil is an object whose only purpose is to be hammered upon.
Because of the anvil, weapons are shaped and tools are formed. Because of you, people can become who God has called them to become.
"You have an anvil in the shop: and you know how hard the hammer comes down on it.
What does the anvil do? Why, it simply bears it.
You never saw the anvil get up and fight with the hammer.
Never. It stands still and takes the blows.
Down comes the hammer, but now listen.
How many hammers have been worn out to one anvil?
Where it has stood for years,
the old block of iron remains, ready to bear more strokes.
The hammers will break, but not the anvil.
Be anvils, brothers and sisters, be anvils."
- Charles Spurgeon
In Jeremiah 23:29, the prophet Jeremiah says that God’s word is like a hammer that smashes things to pieces.
The ultimate calling that we have, is to help shape other people when God hits them. And be strong enough to not allow what God is doing to shape others to misshape us.
If we’re going to be good anvils, we have to ask the question //
what makes a good anvil?
good anvils bounce back
One of best qualities of a good anvil is it’s ability to rebound the hammer with almost as much energy as the smith used to hit it.
In the blacksmithing world, this makes the smith’s job easier. A good anvil has the ability to transfer the force of the blow from itself to the other side of whatever is being shaped.
“It has a nice ring to it” comes from the sound a good anvil makes when it bounces back. Our attitude is like the sound we make when we bounce back. Do you have a nice ring to you?
To be anvils, we should have the ability to rebound from the things that hit us. We must know that we don’t always have the ability to control what happens to us, but we always have the ability to control our response to these things.
Also, think about this in leadership terms. when a leader strikes us to make us better, if we bounce back and respond well, that makes their job easier. If we don’t bounce back, our life gets more difficult and their job gets harder.
Why is rebound important? because, on an anvil, the blacksmith is hitting one side of whatever is being shaped, and a good anvil is returning that force on the opposite side. One hit can have the power of two. An anvil is a force multiplier.
When God hits someone, they are going to bump into us. We will experience their response to the shaping of God. It doesn’t feel good to get hit. When a weapon is being shaped, it is being reformed by force. It will feel like that person is hitting us, but that’s not them. God is shaping them and we have the opportunity to be an anvil.
When God, the blacksmith, is shaping a person, we shouldn’t allow their process to become personal for us. But we respond the way God would respond to them.
As Spurgeon said, an anvil doesn’t feel the need to defend itself, it knows its purpose is to take the hit. Our purpose is to be anvils. To get hit by God and other people and bounce back with a great attitude.
When we get hit, we have to resolve in ourselves to respond well - to bounce back - not retaliate or react.
Romans 5:3-5 says this //
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.
And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
I don’t like getting hit by the hammer. I don’t like getting hit by someone who is getting hit by the hammer either. If I’m honest, my primary goal in life is to stop getting hit by the hammer. At some point in my life, I need all of this hammering to stop.
The more I learn about God, the more I have begin to see that God doesn’t really want to stop hammering me. He definitely doesn’t want to stop hammering other people. He just wants me to get stronger.
1 Peter 3:17 says that “it is better to suffer for doing good,if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!”
I don’t think God wants to stop hammering, I think that he wants our response to our hammering to change.
good anvils aren’t focused on themselves
Some of us may prefer to be the sword and not the hammer. For the sword, the hammer stops eventually. But the sword gets hammered to become what the creator sees.
The anvil gets hammered because it was created to shape what the creator sees. We are meant to help God shape the people he wants to use.
In God’s kingdom, we might start as a sword, where we are shaped by anvils in our lives to become what God wants us to become, but God wants us to have the strength to help others become who they are called to become.
As long as you’re being hammered, you’re being shaped. When the hammering stops, the shaping stops. Being an anvil means committing yourself to a life of non stop growth. Non stop shaping. Being an anvil means committing yourself to a life of shaping others.
Proverbs tells us we should embrace this.
“My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.”
// Proverbs 3:11-12
We move from being hammered, to helping the hammer, while still being hammered.
good anvils don’t deform
Anvils are considered unusable when they stop rebounding, or when they deform after being struck with the hammer.
So often, we are hit by things in life and we allow those things to shape us in the wrong way. Or, we get hit by what hits other people and it causes us offense.
The process of making a weapon is a high impact, potentially damaging process. People that choose to be anvils can’t allow themselves to get damaged by what has the potential to damage them. If we do, we become unusable.
When I was younger, my response to things didn’t matter as much as it does now. I wasn’t married, in a leadership position, or a parent.
I think that’s a lot like being the thing in between the hammer and the anvil.
If a sword responds poorly to a hit, the smith can put the sword back in the forge to reheat and try again. There’s room for failure.
But, if an anvil responds poorly, there’s not a lot the smith can do. It’s not as simple as reheating or reforging. If an anvil is deformed, it is destroyed.Because the more they are hit by a hammer, the more they become deformed. The thing that is supposed to help shape raw metal into something usable, can become unusable itself in the process. Leaders often find themselves in a place where their deformities can destroy them.
How many leaders have we seen who were once strong anvils become destroyed because they allowed themselves to be deformed by their process? How many leaders have given themselves permission to be deformed in their character, maturity, integrity or some other way?
God is the God of the second chance, and with his grace, we get to go to heaven. We don’t earn that, that’s Jesus’ free gift to us. Accepting God’s grace doesn’t mean that you and I are useful. It doesn’t mean that if we are useful now that we are going to stay useful.
We can go to heaven and be useless on earth. We can be useful on earth for a season but the deformities in ourselves that we allow will become our downfall.
Our usefulness as an anvil is our responsibility. God wants to use us, but we have to allow his discipline to shape every area of our lives.
No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees.
Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.
// Hebrews 12:11-13
Some anvils last for months, some years, some decades. Very few last for centuries. We will go through difficulties. The issue is not whether we will get hit or not. The issue is how we will respond to what hits us. Will we get stronger with each hit, or weaker?
Some people can only take so many hits, so they settle for being a tool. They stop being shaped and their usefulness is only for a season. Or they are not useful at all.
Some people can be an anvil, but they don’t bounce back with the right attitude. Or, they allow how God is shaping a person around them to deform them.
how do I know if i’m an anvil?
Is a situation you’re in frustrating?
Is someone hurting your feelings?
Do you think that things need to change?
Do you not like what is happening to you right now?
Do you have a friend?
Do you have a job?
Are you a parent? Spouse? Boyfriend? Girlfriend?
Do you have employees?
Are you an employee?
Are you a human being?
Are you currently alive and breathing?
Congratulations, you have the chance to be an anvil!
take the hits
You become an anvil when you refuse to make what hits you about you.
You become an anvil when you don’t take things personally, even if they’re meant that way.
You become an anvil when you keep your perspective filled with hope instead of despair.
You become an anvil when you have a positive attitude in spite of difficult circumstances.
You become an anvil when you allow what happens to you to make you better instead of bitter.
You become an anvil when you do things God’s way, not your way.
When an anvil is deformed, it is melted down and used for something else. The great thing about God is that he always gives us the opportunity to start over. We can be anvils as soon as we choose to be. No matter what our journey has been up to this point.
When we allow ourselves to be the anvil for others, we make a way for those people to become anvils themselves.
What does the world look like if we are an anvil?
God’s hammer (his Word) hits someone
They hit you
You bounce back
They get shaped into who God created them to be
You keep your shape and only get stronger
God knows exactly what people need to shape them, and his word is going to do that. He also puts people in our life that we are meant to be anvils for. God wants people like us to be the anvil that He can use to help shape everyone he brings into our life.
Let’s be anvils.