Last week’s discussion on building a fire brought a couple of questions. My favorite was “you’re not really talking about building a fire, are you?” Have no doubt, I was building an actual fire. And, yes, the picture was of my fire. And, no people, buildings or wildlife were damaged by the fire. (Except for the brush that I wanted to burn!)
Building a fire is like anything else, we have to find and refine task-related solutions that work for us and those around us.
Let’s take on a typical Monday morning task – starting a project that we really don’t want to do. It may be something new or difficult or time consuming or just not fun.
I have a strategy that has worked for me:
- Define the task. Too many times I have gotten deeply involved in a project just to learn that I have the wrong goal in mind. Make sure that you know what the job really is.
- Scope the work. Estimate the resources required, especially time, and then, like Scotty’s replies to Captain Kirk, triple your answer. Get yourself prepared for what this task is going to cost you.
- Let it sit for a bit. Now, you have to skip this step if you have a time critical project to do. But, for most things, I need some thinking time to get my mind in line with the task. It is a little like letting the stew ingredients simmer on the back of the stove for a while. You could microwave the meat and vegetables, but it won’t taste like stew. I like to spend a little time doing something else while I am thinking about the project. It helps me prepare for steps five and six below. But, don’t stay too long in this step, you have a task to complete.
- Organize the tools you and advice you need. If the project involves others, now is the time to get them read in on the work. If the project is for you alone to complete, you need to clear the desk, turn off the phone, and settle down.
- Pray. I include God in everything I do. To be honest, I hope that I have prayed about the task before step 1, but no matter what I pray now. I want to be focused on the right things. And, for me, I need to intentionally realize that I do nothing on my own. As a believer, I do all things with God’s strength and guidance.
- Do the work. Even if you aren’t sure what to do, get started. Push full speed into the project. Don’t focus too much on what you are doing, just get started. Yep, I know that my first effort may be thrown out later on and that’s OK. Just getting started helps us to refine what we need to do. Often, I find myself discovering the best course of action because I started down two or three other paths and proved them wrong.
- Don’t take a break in working on the task until you have made positive progress. Keep going. Push yourself.
When I have to do something I don’t like to do, I think of it as eating lima beans. No one really wants to eat them, but keep at it and eventually the task is done. (Now, that I have offended all lima bean lovers, fill in whatever food you don’t care for and the metaphor will work for you.)
Working hard at tasks that are daunting allows us to realize that God is developing in us strength that we could never get otherwise. Do the work.
I love today’s verse. If you are having a rough time or working in a difficult situation, think on the words of Paul:
“We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly.” (I Corinthians 4:12-13a)
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