Eat the Frog
January 15, 2021
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If you ever have to eat a live frog, it’s best done first thing in the morning. Mark Twain is purported to have given this advice. If you have to eat two frogs, he reportedly recommended eating the bigger one first. I know this scenario is awfully unlikely, but it’s good advice nonetheless. Why eat the live frog first thing in the morning, you ask? Because you can go through the rest of your day knowing that the hardest task is behind you!
What “to-do list items” are you most tempted to procrastinate on? What goals have you had forever but not taken the first step toward? What difficult decision have you been delaying? That, my friend, is your frog! Give yourself a deadline; then get started. That is the third habit, and it’s a hard one to swallow. Sorry—couldn’t resist.
The bottom line? You can’t just pray like it depends on God. You also have to work like it depends on you. If you want God to do the super, you’ve got to do the natural. And you have to start first thing in the morning.
How you start the day sets the tone for the rest of it, yet many of us never give the morning a second thought beyond getting out the door on time. Our morning rituals are as unplanned as an earthquake. Is that the best way to start the day? Que será será—whatever will be will be.
That’s sounding the retreat before the day even begins. If you want to win the day, you’ve got to attack the day. How? Eat the frog.
Some people like to ease into the day without breaking a sweat, and I totally get that. Perhaps even sleep in on occasion, which is totally fine. But there is something to be said for starting the day with a challenge. It might be raising your heart rate via exercise or lowering your blood pressure via meditation. Either way, consistency is king. Consistency beats intensity seven days a week!
I had a father-in-law who placed a high priority on prayer. After his treadmill workout at four o’clock, he was kneeling in prayer by five o’clock. He read three newspapers every morning and attempted at least one crossword puzzle. He did all that before most people wake up! Of course, he grew up on a farm, which seems like an unfair advantage. He was used to milking the cows, which is not unlike eating the frog. Three newspapers and a crossword puzzle before breakfast may not be your thing, and that’s okay. The question is, What is your thing?
I have a friend who doesn’t get out of bed in the morning without going through a series of mental exercises. I don’t know about you, but I’d fall back asleep! Plus, the bathroom is calling my name. Somehow my friend finds a way to focus. He flexes his gratitude muscle, giving thanks. Then he stretches his faith, praying for the people he loves. Early-morning meditation may not be your thing, especially if you’re prone to hit the snooze button. The question is, What is your thing?
My sister-in-law Nicole Schmidgall starts the day with an intense boot camp—before sunrise! Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Somehow she completed 250 workouts this past year and has the certificate to prove it. Boot camp may not be your thing, and that’s okay. But you know what question is coming: What is your thing?
What’s the one thing you least like to do but you feel best about afterward? That’s your frog. It’s often the hardest habit to establish, but it pays the biggest dividends. Whatever it is, you’ve got to figure out a morning routine that works for you. And, I might add, one that works for your spouse and your kids and your dog and your boss. You don’t have to shirk your responsibilities to eat the frog. All you have to do is plan your work, then work your plan. The good news? Well-begun is half-done! If you do the natural, it sets God up to do something super.
Excerpted from Win the Day: 7 Daily Habits to Help You Stress Less & Accomplish More. Copyright © 2020 by Mark Batterson. Used by permission of Multnomah, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. NCC also owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, The Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 books, including The Circle Maker, Chase the Lion, and Whisper. Mark and his wife, Lora, have three children and live on Capitol Hill.