What Does Eating an Elephant One Bite at a Time Mean?

Eating Something That Big Takes Real Determination

Most of us have heard the saying, “Eat an elephant one bite at a time.” At first glance, this phrase seems a little far out there for those of us in the middle of the United States. It’s not like there’s a lot of elephants around to eat.

This phrase is used when referring to how we can accomplish a large daunting goal through a series of smaller tasks.

A normal serving size of meat is between a half pound and three quarters of a pound. As we all have different sized mouths, it’s hard to know exactly how many bites are in a serving, but 10-15 bites are considered a good serving. In Africa the forest elephants are normally between 5,000 – 6,000 pounds of meat. (Thank you Skyler)

This means to eat an average-sized elephant it will take around…154,000 bites.

We are all faced with large, overwhelming undertakings, some bigger than others. Sonia shared a story about a large endeavor in the children’s message. She told me about a bicycle padlock that her brother had when they were kids. The problem was…nobody in the family knew the combination.

She said there were 10,000 options to finding the right combination with a four number padlock. She started in and after 4500 tries she got it. This was a pretty big elephant and a lot of bites.

This was some real determination.

The key to accomplishing any big task is determination and taking the first step.

This is what Paul was doing in Acts as he continually went from town to town sharing God’s message. It was a big and dangerous undertaking, but he was determined to eat the next bite.

In Acts 20:17-24 he told the people in Ephesus, “You know everything I did during the time I was with you when I first came to Asia. Some of the Jews plotted against me and caused me a lot of sorrow and trouble. But I served the Lord and was humble. When I preached in public or taught in your homes, I didn’t hold back from telling anything that would help you. I told Jews and Gentiles to turn to God and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

I don’t know what will happen to me in Jerusalem, but I must obey God’s Spirit and go there. In every city I visit, I am told by the Holy Spirit that I will be put in jail and will be in trouble in Jerusalem. But I don’t care what happens to me, as long as I finish the work the Lord Jesus gave me to do. And this work is to tell the good news about God’s gift of undeserved grace.”

Like Paul we all have a purpose. It may not be preaching like Paul’s but is just as important. It may be the way we treat co-workers and customers; it may be in raising our children; it may be community service. Whatever it is that we’ve been put here to do…

We need to stay the course and keep eating the elephant one bite after another. Start chewing.

Construction Projects (Like Life) Don’t Have to Be Overwhelming and Daunting

Both Are Within Our Control, But It’s Up to Us to Exercise the Superpower of Choice

Overwhelming and daunting is one thing that construction projects and life have in common. Both are big and full of opportunities to make mistakes. This fear of mistakes causes us to drag our feet and not make decisions.

Hesitance to make decisions is the stumbling block that prevent people from doing great things.

I had a conversation with a friend from a mastermind that is struggling with working through both a construction project and life change. We discussed how to figure out how best to move forward.

Every big decision we’re faced with in life is made up of little pieces.

Our responsibility is to sort through those little pieces and make a decision. The difficult part is when the decisions that need to be made are in an area of life that is out of our comfort zone.

This is when we have to decide if we’re going to explore, learn and implement this new knowledge or employ the help of an expert. This is one of the hardest decisions.

In Andy Andrews book, The Traveler’s Gift, David Ponder is given the Responsible Decision from President Harry Truman. In this decision President Truman writes, “When faced with the opportunity to make a decision, I will make one. I understand that God did not put in me the ability to always make right decisions. He did, however, put in me the ability to make a decision and then make it right.

The rise and fall of my emotional tide will not deter me from my course. When I make a decision, I will stand behind it. My energy will go into making the decision. I will waste none on second thoughts. My life will not be an apology. It will be a statement.

The buck stops here. I control my thoughts. I control my emotions. In the future when I am tempted to ask the question “Why me?” I will immediately counter with the answer: “Why not me?”

Challenges are gifts, opportunities to learn. Problems are the common thread running through the lives of great men and women. In times of adversity, I will not have a problem to deal with; I will have a choice to make. My thoughts will be clear. I will make the right choice. Adversity is preparation for greatness. I will accept this preparation.

Why me? Why not me? I will be prepared for something great!

I accept responsibility for my past. I control my thoughts. I control my emotions. I am responsible for my success.

Andrews, Andy. The Traveler’s Gift (pp. 33-34). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

I will not have a problem to deal with; I will have a choice to make.

Choosing to look at situations as problems it’s more likely that procrastination will set in. Making a choice and moving forward is a more productive way to deal with things.

The main thing to remember is that we have control. We can choose…but choosing requires action.