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The Importance Of Beginning

As the door turns on its hinges, so does the sluggard on his bed.
–Proverbs 26:14

Persistent people learn the importance of beginning. You may remember from your physics class the law of inertia. The law of inertia says that a body at rest tends to remain at rest; a body in motion tends to remain in motion. It takes a lot more energy to get an object moving than it does to keep that object moving. Whether that object is a car parked at a red light, a rocket ship parked on a launch pad, or me parked in my recliner after supper, it takes more energy to get an object moving than it does to keep the object moving. The key is summoning the energy to begin.

Persistent people understand the importance of beginning. That is in contrast to the lazy individual, who can think of any and every reason not to begin a project. In Proverbs 26:13-14, Solomon wrote, “The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion in the road! A lion is in the open square!’ As the door turns on its hinges, so does the sluggard on his bed.” The lazy person invents all kinds of excuses about why he can’t begin a project. He says, “There is a lion out there. He will eat me up if I go to work.” Now, when Solomon wrote these words, the chances of a lion walking around Jerusalem were about as great as a zebra walking down the street in your neighborhood. It just didn’t happen. But the sluggard is an expert at inventing excuses.

Let’s face it: we all tend to come up with excuses for not doing the things we know we are supposed to do. We can all think of a reason not to begin that exercise program: “I do not have the right shoes and equipment.” We think of a reason not to get up and spend time with the Lord: “God wants me to get my rest today.” We can have a reason for not going to the doctor: “He may discover something bad.”

More than anything else, the one thing that is going to make you successful in life is simply to start doing something. Just get started. That can give you the energy you need to continue.

I came across an advertisement in a medical journal years ago that talked about the importance of beginning. It said, “Motivation is not going to strike you like lightning. And motivation is not something that someone else–a nurse, doctor, family member–can bestow or force on you. The whole idea of motivation is a trap. Forget motivation. Just do it. Exercise, lose weight, test your blood sugar, or whatever. Do it without motivation, and then guess what? After you start doing the thing, that’s when the motivation comes and makes it easy for you to keep on doing it. As Harvard psychologist Jerome Bruner says, ‘You’re more likely to act yourself into a feeling than feel yourself into an action.’”

Some of you are waiting until the feeling hits you to do what you know God wants you to do. As somebody has said, “You don’t have to be great to start. But you have to start to be great.”


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “To Succeed More, Fail More” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2013.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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