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Doing Something Big? Start Small.

     If I were to ask “how do you eat an elephant? You will surely tell me in a mundane, ‘everyone knows the answer to that question voice’ with “one bite at a time. “The journey of 1,000 miles ‘begins with one step.”  Clichés such as these permeate our language, all denoting the simple truth – start small.   While this truth is repeatedly expressed, we forget it, ignore it, think we are beyond it or simply want to circumvent it, and start bigger than we should.  

     Culturally, we tend to want it all and want it all now.  We’ve lost the discipline of small consistent actions that build on one another for an accomplished end.  Yet scripture tells us to “not despise these small beginnings.”  Zechariah 4:10, (NLT).   In Proverbs we are instructed to “take a lesson from the ants” Proverbs 6:6 (NLT).

     In my April article, I noted my experiences building up to running an 8k.  On Jan. 6, 2009, my personal official training start date, the schedule called for me to MOVE for 15 minutes. The instructions were for me to walk/run for 15 minutes in whatever combination I could, without exhausting myself. So that day, all I remember was that I couldn't even run for two minutes straight. Nonetheless, I followed the instructions and used some walk/run combination and MOVED for 15 minutes. The message and point here is start small; do what you can and keep moving. There was no mention of speed and no mention of distance at this time.

     In years of discipling new converts, I’ve observed panic in their hearts and minds revolving around the misconceived notion that Chrisitans needed to meet the ideal standard of praying for an hour.  Somehow, some way, somewhere, new converts I’ve worked with think that an absolute measure of their faith and maturity in Christ is their ability to pray for one hour.  I quickly learned how to ease the tension and encourage them by teaching them to pray for two minutes.   Of course, teaching someone to pray is first understanding that prayer is conversation with God.  We don’t have a minimum or maximum requirement on this.  Once someone is comfortable with a two minute conversation, they can increase this. While the goal is different, the principle is the same-- start small and increase slowly, in order to achieve the desired outcome.  

     We’ll see a cycle repeated throughout our lives and certainly throughout our faith walk.  We start small, and increase by building on what was started until we reach our goals or faith milestones.  When we start big, even though we may seem initially successful, we don’t build up endurance and sustainability. So start small, be willing to be consistent and build on the small seed.  Even Jesus said, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you”  Matthew 17:20, (NIV).

Copyright © 2008-2015 Diane Wiater, Ph.D.

Reader Comments...
2010-04-25 19:33:42
"I really appreciate this article! I'm sure that I will read it repeatedly as I build my own equine facilitated learning program. I am in the middle of my apprenticeship. Thank you for the sound advice. "
        - Janis

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