Servant leaders like Elisabeth Elliot, who push through seemingly overwhelming obstacles, inspire me. When this Monday Profile (below) was published on the front page of our local newspaper, 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, her 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?"
Elisabeth Elliot was inspiring to me because servant leadership had become a passion for me early in my life, as I had been...
- 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;
- selected for 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.
As Elisabeth 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.' I remembered a verse that God had given to me before I went to Ecuador in Isaiah 50:7: 'The Lord God will help me; therefore, shall I not be confounded. Therefore, have I set my face like a flint and I know that I shall not be ashamed."
Instead of allowing the burdens to stack until they completely blocked out the sun, she 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 her servant leadership is found in the poem, "Do The Next Thing," from which Elisabeth Elliot's maxim originates:
Do The Next Thing
From an old English parsonage, down by the seaHow about you? In what ways do you feel inspired to be a servant leader?
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 does the maxim, 'Do The Next Thing' inspire you?
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