Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with challenges we consider way beyond our capacity. We look at the mountains facing us, consider our abilities and resources, and throw up our hands in desperation.
Bob Wiley faced something like this in his life. Watch Dr. Leo Marvin advise him in “What About Bob?”
You have probably heard many little advice bites on how to handle big projects:
“Every journey begins with one step.” (attributed to Lao-Tzu)
“When eating an elephant, eat one bite at a time.” (attributed to Creighton Abrams)
These, and other quotes like them, hold true, and will work if you add two things to them: prepare and persevere!
One could add to the above proverbs and say, “Every journey begins with one step, and ends when all the steps have been taken” and, “When eating an elephant, eat one bite at a time until it is gone.”
Jesus discussed this as well (Luke 14:28-30):
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.”
Consider this example many cross-cultural workers face: many assignments require learning a new language to a high fluency level. Why is this so difficult? We spend our lifetimes practicing one language, and then try to train our brains to think differently in just a matter of months. Some learn faster than others, but it is a challenge for all.
So, how do you do it, just one word or phrase at a time? Yes, but you must start by committing enough time to truly learn and practice, and then you must persevere until you begin to think in that language. Commit the time to learning a phrase well. Listen and observe how it is used in the culture you are in, and then use it over and over and over until it comes to mind automatically. When that happens, congratulations… but you’re not done. Learn a new phrase and start the process all, over adding it to the one you now have internalized. On and on goes this process until you master the new language.
Preparation, baby steps and perseverance will allow you to complete any journey or eat any elephant that you face in front of you.
Have impact for the kingdom, one baby step at a time until it comes into its fullness!