Sunday, February 23, 2014

do the next thing

Holley Gerth's Coffee For Your Heart writing prompt this week is the question: “Who inspires you?”

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.
No matter what the task, I have been inspired by the maxim, 'Do the next thing,' which helped me look beyond what appeared to be overwhelming obstacles to get the job done.

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 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 feel inspired to be a servant leader?

       How does the maxim, 'Do The Next Thing' inspire you?

               Please feel free to leave your comments in the box below,
                             I'd love to hear from you!


  1. Beth, thank you so much for this post. I had seen, and saved, a snippet of the Saxon poem and it was a blessing to read the entire thing. My 'word' for the year 2014 is 'intentional' and the maxim 'do the next thing' has been pivotal for me in my effort to not be overwhelmed by all that stands ahead, actually, paralyzed, by all that lies ahead, but to confidently tackle it one thing at a time. Thank you, my friend. Blessings!

  2. This is a good reminder and something I (at least try to) make myself do often...just focus on the next thing. Because sometimes it all just seems too overwhelming. I'm also trying more often to make my "next thing" be playing with my daughter or dancing with her. Creating with her. Reading books with her. She deserves to be on my to-do list even more than everything else. :) Thanks for this today!

    1. Thank you, Mel, I so-o-o agree with you...we have an adorable 2 year-old grandson, and I too, desire to prioritize getting down on the floor and playing Thomas the Train with him or reading a book with him over anything else...time with him is an investment that lasts a lifetime, amen?

  3. This phrase has become a byword for me here at home. When I don't know what to do . . .do the next thing that needs doing.

    1. Michele, thank you so much for stopping by! I so agree with has been my byword since the first day I heard Elisabeth quote much so that even when my children and others would ask me for advice in a difficult season, "Do the Next Thing," always seems to be some part of my reply. Many blessings to you, friend ❤️

  4. Elisabeth Elliot has inspired many women, I am sure. She is one of the top leaders for me. Thanks for coming by the legacy link-up. God bless

    1. Mandy, amen! From the moment I first heard her radio show on Moody Radio, I knew she was an anointed woman of God...such wisdom is truly God-given. Thanks for stopping by--many blessings to you!

  5. I have long loved this phrase and poem that Elisabeth Elliot quoted. But I feel that without the context of the poem it is easy to lose the point of what she was conveying. There are so many "next" things in front of us, but it is this way of looking upward that will truly guide us:
    "Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
    Time, opportunity, guidance, are given"
    and that will lead us to:
    "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."
    Thank you so very much for posting the whole poem! I feel this is truly what Elisabeth meant when she quoted this phrase. Her whole life pointed to that way of trusting and leaning on Jesus. Blessings to you!

    1. Bettie, I so agree with you! The poem points us to Jesus, praising Him, following His lead, the poem gives such depth and breadth to the four little words--Do The Next Thing. I first heard this interview with EE in 1991, when I had a newborn son and a 12 year-old daughter. Many times the phrase and the poem would come to mind when I felt at a loss for what to do in a difficult situation. I have even used it as advice to others when they are having difficult circumstances to navigate. Thanks so much for stopping by. Many blessings to you!


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