a tidy desk is a sign of…

It’s been said that “a tidy desk is a sign of a tidy mind”. Or how about, “A tidy desk is a sign of a full desk drawer.”

But Albert Einstein apparently said that, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

paperworkThis week, among other things, I am going to tidy my desk (make of that what you will!). I have narrowed down my options to two viable alternatives based on the above (note ‘tidy’ not ’empty’!):

Alternative the first – scoop up all paperwork, stray documents, empty mugs and items that don’t currently have a home and deposit them in an empty drawer / cupboard.

Alternative the second – look through all of the papers on the desk and either respond, file or discard, take any empty mugs to the kitchen and clean them and find a home for any homeless items.

Both alternatives will result in me having a tidy desk.

Alternative the first is quicker and perhaps even in the short term more satisfying. But it will leave items still to be dealt with (and now more difficult to find / remember) and may result in the growth of new life forms if the mugs remain uncleaned for a long period of time, or at best the coffee dregs at the bottom of the mugs will have welded itself to the mug and be difficult to remove.

Alternative the second may take a bit more effort. It may take a bit more time. But at the end the tidy desk will not simply be a space free of clutter it will also be a reminder to me that I have dealt with everything.

How often in life do we deal with problems, difficulties, letting other people down, unforgiveness and other ‘clutter’ by scooping it up and lobbing it in an empty drawer or cupboard? We can give the impression that everything is fine and lovely but those things remain undealt with. They will not go away if we ignore them and indeed they can get worse so that we have a bigger issue to deal with when we finally have to deal with them.

It’s wise to try to sort out problems in our relationships with others and with God sooner rather than later. Occasional ‘spring cleans’ will take a lot longer and be harder work for us that regular ‘housekeeping’ and a relationship is always healthier and closer if there is not ‘stuff’ between you.

If you read Psalm 32 you will read about the difference it makes to us when we hide the stuff we really need to deal with and the contrast with how it feels when we have sought forgiveness.

Be blessed, be a blessing


i can’t believe it’s not clutter

Sometimes I don’t know what bloggerel I will write until I sit down and start typing. Sometimes I don’t know until after I have started typing. Sometimes you don’t know even when I have finished!

Today I was sitting at my desk, looking for inspiration, when I realised just how untidy my desk has become. There is a pile of books that is unread. There are small piles of papers representing different things I need to do. There are notes on scraps of paper – telephone messages and initial thoughts and plans for future services. There are two in trays that are overflowing with correspondence. This is not correspondence that I need to respond to, I try to do that fairly quickly, it is paperwork that I need to file either in a drawer or in a bin.

When I was at Bible College I remember the advice of one of our lecturers that we should have a “dustbin day” once a month where we go through all of the accumulated paperwork and sort it out. At the time I can remember thinking that that was a good idea and I resolved to do so. Sadly that resolution has not been kept to and has now resulted in a pile of papers almost 12 inches high in my in trays. And now the problem is that the pile is so big that it will take a considerable effort and intention to work my way through it, never mind all the other bits and pieces on my desk.

Perhaps during the summer I will force myself to do so.

I think we can sometimes have the same attitude towards the things in our lives that are spiritually cluttering us up. If we deal with them regularly then we can keep them under control, but if we allow them to accumulate gradually they can grow insignificance and size. I wonder if this is what happens to some people who slip away from church and fall away from the relationship with God. Other things gradually grow insignificance and importance and they either become too big to face or overwhelm us to the point that we feel we can’t cope any more. It is always good to keep short accounts with our bank, credit cards, friends and family… and God.

One of the things that I used to remind me to do this regularly is that I have built an association in my mind with washing my face in the morning and evening and being washed spiritually clean. As I wash my face I ask God to forgive me for things for which only to be forgiven and to cleanse me afresh by his Spirit. you might have other associations that you might like to make but if we are to prevent the clutter of our lives overwhelming us it is good to do some regular filing and binning.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

True story, allegedly, tangentially related to filing:

Joseph Owens of Mount Pleasant, Michigan, didn’t think police were listening to his complaints that someone was harassing him, so he came up with a brilliant plan. Owens convinced his friend to shoot him in the shoulder with a shotgun so police would take him seriously. After a trip to the emergency room, Owens faced up to four years in prison for filing a false police report.

what a weekend

This past weekend has been full of significant events. Very edited highlights follow:

On Saturday I attended the reopening of our local Salvation Army premises following a significant refit. It is very impressive and a great improvement on what they had. I particularly liked the prayer that asked that the walls would soon be scuffed and that there would be marks appearing because the premises are being used so well for sharing the good news of Jesus in word and deed.

On Sunday morning we had a service of Believer’s Baptism, where 4 people were baptised. They shared four very different life stories and were inspirational, encouraging and wonderful in what they shared. Baptising them was wonderful – one of the highlights of being a Baptist Minister. Grace abounded!

Four brave and slightly soggy people after their baptisms – and two grinning ministers!

And, on a completely different tack (pun intended) there was incredible sportsmanship shown on the Tour de France. I think there is growing excitement and interest in this bike race as there are two British riders leading the event. Yesterday on one of the climbs someone threw some tacks / nails onto the road as the cyclists were approaching and 30 riders suffered punctures. The Tour leader, Bradley Wiggins, was unaffected but when he realised what had happened he slowed up the whole race and waited for those who had been affected to catch up again when they had been given new bikes / wheels. One of the people affected was the rider in third place. What incredible sporting behaviour – to refuse to take advantage of someone else’s misfortune! To me that makes Bradley Wiggins a prime candidate for Sports Personality of the Year regardless of whether he wins the Tour de France.

What lessons have I learnt?

That I may need to get scuffed and marked as a follower of Jesus if I want to share the good news of Jesus. He does not want me to avoid people in order to stay in pristine condition. (revisit the parable of the talents (Matthew 25) with that in mind!)

That God’s grace knows no limits, especially those I may put on it by the limits of my imagination or expectations.

That the only person whose misfortune I should take advantage of is Jesus on the cross.

Be blessed, be a blessing

A man was hurtling along the road, in excess of the speed limit when he was pulled over by a traffic cop. The officer wrote out a ticket and handed it to him.

“What am I supposed to do with this?” grumbled the man as the policeman handed him a speeding ticket.

“Keep it,” said the officer. “When you collect 12 points you get a bicycle.”

>a tidy desk is a sign that you do not have enough to do…


My study is a bit of a mess at the moment. I think it’s the result of me not working in it properly for about a month so I have dumped stuff in piles, in ‘in trays’ and anywhere there is space. The piles have started getting tall enough to fall over. I sense that it is important right now for me to do some tidying in order to enable me to work more efficiently (or at all!).

The trouble is that while I enjoy having a tidy space in which to live and work I do not enjoy the idea of tidying. It’s invariably a useful exercise when I do it: I uncover papers or other items I thought I had lost and having clear desk space makes it easier for me to concentrate (I am not distracted by wondering what a stray piece of paper is for). But there’s an inertia within me that I will have to overcome in order to make a start.

I think too that I feel that it is perhaps not the best use of my time. There are many other things I could be doing that seem more urgent or important.

I am reminded of something my Pastoral Studies tutor, Bill Allen, told us at College. He advised us at least once a month to have a ‘dustbin day’. That’s a day when we clear our desks, tidy our studies and get rid of anything that we do not need.

That’s not just good advice for Ministers’ studies. It’s good advice for all of us all the time. We should examine ourselves and see if we need to have a clear out, make more space for God or get rid of aspects of our lives that we do not need or are unhelpful. I try not to limit that to once a month!


Weary of constantly picking clothes up from the floor of her son’s room, a mother finally laid down the law: each item of clothing she had to pick up would cost her son 50 pence. 

By the end of the week, he owed her £6.50. She received the money promptly, along with a 50 pence tip and a note that read, “Thanks, Mum. Keep up the good work!”


The bride was anything but a tidy housekeeper. It didn`t bother her much until one evening when her husband called from the hall, somewhat dismayed: “Honey, what happened to the dust on this table? I had a phone number written in it.”