The new year often brings out the belief that we ought to make sweeping changes in our lives. Beginning a rigorous exercise regimen, losing a substantial amount of weight, living within our means, and disciplining ourselves to save for the future are common New Years Resolutions. Some of us also serve in professions or capacities that continually pressure us to do the “new,” the “unexpected,” the “unprecedented,” and to be “innovative.” All of these desires and expectations may seem a huge burden to us.
However, the small things, done day by day, have an incremental value that we often overlook. We underestimate the impact of faithful habits, incorporated into our days. Those who have deep influence are faithful in what we would consider the small tasks. For me, one example is circulating among my students and greeting them, talking to them about how their day is going and other small talk, instead of having my head down and ignoring them because I have “significant projects.” Will I have deeper influence in their lives because of how well I prepare my lessons, or how much I connect with my students?
There is some proportionality here as well. We are not to ignore what Jesus called “the weightier matters of the law” and be satisfied that we can check off the details. This is the error of the Pharisees that Jesus condemns in Matthew 23, However, Jesus is not advocating that we neglect the details and concentrate on the big picture only.
Faithful, daily tasks, as small as they may seem at the time, grow into something greater than the tasks themselves. Consistent care of children usually results in more than a checklist completed of child care tasks, but children who are loving, well-behaved, and a pleasure to be around. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember this. But it’s encouraging when we do and are able to carry out this idea in specific ways.
A couple of days ago, I posted about the “Early To Rise” Challenge. I did not rise early today, unless you call between 7:30 and 8:00 am “rising early.” So now, I can tell you what not to do:
1. The night before you will attempt to rise early, sit in positions that bad for your posture so that your back is sore when you lie down to go to sleep.
2. Stay up late. Make sure you don’t get to bed until at least 11:30 or 12:00
3. Waste the extra hours that you stayed up. Go through your RSS feeds . . . slowly. Alternate between checking Facebook, ESPN, ESPN soccernet, and EPL transfer rumors (note: EPL transfer rumors generally have no factual basis whatsoever). Check your Amazon seller account every five minutes for new sales. Wash rinse, repeat for two hours. Don’t read a book or do anything that may even be slightly construed as productive.
4. Eat. Ignore the fact that your body is 99 percent lard already and that today’s calorie expenditure has been roughly 50 calories more than if you had slept for the past 24 hours. Eat lots of snacks. You can even eat “healthy snacks” like I did — black bean chips, peanut butter bars. These “healthy snacks” will still give you the same caloric intake as a bag of potato chips and a couple of candy bars. Just make sure you add another 600-800 calories to an already bloated diet.
5. Tell yourself, “I deserve to sleep in for all of this!”