Leader to Leader, Ministry

Eat That Frog! : Setting Priorities for the New Year

January 9, 2014 | Posted by Art Scherer

The beginning of a new year is always a time for setting priorities and reviewing our stewardship of time. This would be a great time to make a list of those things you want to accomplish in the year ahead. It could be things like visiting every home in the congregation, spending more time with your family, losing weight, completing all assignments on time, finishing your sermon by Thursday afternoon, etc. But once you have that list, where do you start? Too often we start with the easy items…and never get around to the tough ones.

Brian Tracy, in a simple little book called “Eat That Frog!“(Simple Books, 2008), takes a different approach. Quoting Mark Twain, he says, “If the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is eat a live frog, then nothing worse can happen for the rest of the day!”

He then goes on to say that your “frog” should be the most difficult item on your things to do list, the one where you’re most likely to procrastinate; because, if you eat that first, it’ll give you energy and momentum for the rest of the day. But, if you don’t…and let him sit there on the plate and stare at you while you do a hundred unimportant things, it can drain your energy and you won’t even know it.

Some rules for eating frogs are these:

  1. If you have to eat two frogs, start with the ugliest one first. Start with the biggest, hardest, most important task first, or you may never get around to it.
  2. If you have to eat a frog, it doesn’t pay to sit around and look at it for very long at all. The longer you wait, the uglier it will look.

Procrastination saps the spirit. No matter how much else you do, the ugly frog still sits there going “ribbit, ribbit,” and drowning out the joy of other accomplishments. Eating the frog makes for good stewardship of time and, after the initial bitter taste, makes for a joyful spirit. So, look at your list of things to do, mark the biggest, ugliest thing on that list, and eat that frog first!

Art Scherer
Art Scherer is President Emeritus of the Southeastern District, LCMS, and a consultant in stewardship and capital funding for LCEF. Dr. Scherer is developer of LCEF’s popular Consecrated Stewards series and author of the Living as Children of a Generous God Bible studies.