My research methodology professor used to say to her class, “You can eat an elephant, one bite at a time.” Now taking her colloquialism literally, I have no idea why anyone would want to eat an elephant. I don’t! They are beautiful endangered creatures that walk with grace and are one of my daughter’s favorite animals. But that’s not the point of my professor’s somewhat odd imagery. If you take her quote metaphorically (which we should), it encourages you to consider how you can accomplish large tasks with small achievable steps or in her case, “one bite at a time.”
As we look in Scripture, we see numerous examples of large tasks being done with small achievable steps. It took Noah seventy-five years to build the ark (Genesis 6:3). It took King Solomon twenty years to build the Lord’s Temple and his home (1 Kings 9:10) and it took Herod the Great forty-six years to rebuild Solomon’s Temple. The point is that when accomplishing a large task, breaking it down into small manageable steps makes it possible.
Perhaps you are experiencing the pressure to accomplish a significant task and feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of a project. Maybe it’s not a project but it’s as personal as life itself. Maybe this enormous task has stalled you out and you feel frozen and unable to do anything. I want to offer one word of advice, one warning, and one ask for help.
The best advice is to break it down into smaller steps so that the project (or addiction, depression, life, or whatever) does not seem so overwhelming. You will be amazed at how encouraged you feel after you achieve a few small steps.
Many times the lie we tell ourselves that we are alone and that the weight of the project, addiction, depression, life—whatever it may be—falls all on our shoulders. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The Lord tells us that he will never leave us nor forsake us. He tells us this in Deuteronomy 31:8, Psalm 46, and Hebrews 13:5-6. Although it is easy for us to assume that we have to go it alone, Scripture reminds that we are meant to carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). Let the Lord help you and allow others the opportunity to serve you in a way that is beneficial to you both.
My Ask for Help
So, if we are to carry on another’s burdens, then as your pastor, I am coming to you for help. For the next two weeks, I will be away in order to work on my dissertation for my doctorate. It’s an elephant project that I have been trying to chew bite by bite by myself for a long seven years. (Sorry to bring the elephant imagery up once again.)
I am writing on the subject of worship space and would appreciate your opinion on my area of study. Would you help me by taking 5 minutes to complete this survey. It would relieve me of some of the burden. The responses are anonymous so feel free to answer honestly.
Life, large tasks, and heavy burdens can feel overwhelming very quickly. Trust the Lord is walking through this process with you. Trust that the church is here for you and with you. Trust that taking a small step is a very beneficial step toward accomplishing whatever you are facing. And pray for me as I am away from Restoration for a few weeks, working toward my goal of completing my doctorate.