Saturday, January 14, 2012

servant leadership--do the next thing

Leadership became a passion for me early in my life...
  • elected president of our Future Homemakers of America and selected as editor-in-chief of our Smoke Signal school newspaper at Southwest Junior High School
  • elected as the first female president of our student body at Sebring High School
  • leadership positions as a county-wide program education specialist in Highlands County
  • Florida Department of Education gifted education state consultant in Tallahassee, and 
  • executive director at the Learning Resource Center of Polk County.
No matter what the task, I have found the maxim, 'Do the next thing' has helped me look beyond what appear to be overwhelming obstacles to get the job done...

When this Monday Profile (above) was published on the front page of The Ledger, I heard an interview on Moody radio with Elisabeth Elliot, who was talking about her life in Ecuador following the murder of her husband while they were missionaries. As a widow with a young infant, living in the jungles of a foreign land, Elliot’s world must have felt as though it had been turned upside down. But instead of throwing up her hands and saying, "What’s next?" she asked, "What’s the next thing?" 

Elliot said in the interview, "You can imagine how tempted I was to just plunk myself down and say, 'There is no way I can do this.' I wanted to sink into despair and helplessness, then I remembered this old Saxon legend, 'Do the next thing.'"

Instead of allowing the burdens to stack until they completely blocked out the sun, Elliot dealt with them one at a time. She said you should not sit down and think of all the things you have to do because it can be overwhelming. Instead, just pick the next thing and do it, then move on to the one after that. She said while pushing through them, you’re likely to find that many of the problems will work themselves out.

The essence of servant leadership is found in the following poem from which that maxim comes:

Do The Next Thing

From an old English parsonage, down by the sea

There came in the twilight a message to me;

Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,

Hath, as it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.

And on through the hours the quiet words ring

Like a low inspiration—"DO THE NEXT THING."

Many a question, many of fear,

Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.

Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,

Time, opportunity, guidance, are given.

Fear not tomorrows, Child of the King,

Trust them with Jesus, "DO THE NEXT THING."

Do it immediately; do it with prayer;

Do it reliantly, casting all care;

Do it with reverence, tracing His Hand,

Who placed it before thee with earnest command.

Stayed on Omnipotence, safe 'neath His wing,

Leave all resultings, "DO THE NEXT THING."

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,

(Working or suffering) be thy demeanor,

In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,

The light of His countenance be thy psalm,

Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing,

Then, as He beckons thee, "DO THE NEXT THING."

How about you? In what ways do you serve as a servant leader?

How does the maxim, 'Do The Next Thing' help you approach the tasks you have before you?


  1. Great article, Beth!

    I need to remember this. As lots of things unfold in our lives this year, I can get overwhelmed by all that needs to be done. "Do the next thing" reminds me to take a deep breath and take it one day at a time, one moment at a time. Hey... sounds like the serenity prayer to me. :)


  2. Thank you, Daphne...what a great connection...It DOES sound like the serenity prayer...I love the long version, don't you?..."God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is; not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. In Jesus' name I pray, amen."

  3. Love this post, Beth. Shared it on the Inspired Day today.

    1. Melanie, WOW! Thank you so much for your encouraging response! I LOVE the way you shared it on The Inspired Day...what great encouragment for every day :)

    2. Here's the link to The Inspired Day by Melanie Wilson
      Melanie is a Christian psychologist turned homeschooling mother of six, author, and speaker. Thank you, again, Melanie :)

  4. This blog post came at the opportune time considering everything I need to get done in the next 7 days ..I think I'll just focus on doing the next thing. Thank you:)

    1. Jeanne, thank you so much for sharing your comment with favorite part about writing blog posts is the feeling that I am in some way a conduit, sharing what has been helpful to me with others...many blessings, beth


Blog Archive