Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

don't bite off more than you can chew“Don’t bite off more than you can chew.” I don’t know where I heard this first, but I know we heard it around the dinner table. The rule at our house was that if we served ourselves, we had to finish the entire portion: lock, stock, and barrel. However, if someone else piled that portion onto our plates, we could get by without consuming it all. After all, it wasn’t our eyes that were bigger than our stomach.

I grew to rather enjoy being served by someone else, for I got to choose whether I wanted to finish that plate of food. I didn’t need to act responsibly. As I became an adult, however, I learned that I am responsible for the portions I take or don’t take, whether it’s my food or what I do with my time.

The point of that line is that one should think before he commits to something. If it’s more than he can handle, then he ought not commit himself at the onset. One should also not use the excuse that something is too difficult when it can be broken down into smaller, doable segments.

By the way, this has a lot to do with New Years’ Resolutions. We make these grand and glorious plans, determined to do just what we say – and within a few weeks, we’ve bombed out.

(How many of your New Years’ Resolutions are you successfully following by now?!) 

I’ve learned along the way that although a goal might seem lofty and high, I need to think before I commit. I need to consider the path I will be required to take. It is far better for me to not immediately jump in lock, stock, and barrel. Too often,my impetuousness gives way to discouragement and I bail out sooner rather than later.

Here is what I try to do: I don’t bite off more than I can chew.  Any child can finish that portion of potatoes if he concentrates on one bite at a time. If he only puts into his mouth what he is able to chew easily, he can complete the task.  That’s how it is with real life. 

The mountain seems insurmountable, so we don’t even try to climb. The river seems too deep and too turbulent, so we don’t even put our toes in to feel its cascading warmth.

don't bite off more than you can chew

  • You’re too tired to read those chapters in the Bible today? How about a few verses instead? Don’t skip it entirely – just bite off what you can chew for today.
  • You skipped exercising yesterday, so it’s too hard to get with it today? How about buckling in for ten minutes? No need to bail out completely; just get your heart rate going for ten minutes.
  • You’re tired of relationship tensions? How about spending ONE MINUTE praying for that person? (Sixty seconds is a long time to pray for someone who has hurt you.) How about taking the time to drop a two-line note or sending a card to a person who makes life difficult for you?
  • The house is a wreck. The task of getting things in order is too daunting; there’s no way you can get things cleaned up today. How about cleaning up the kitchen sink alone? Can you do that much? Forget the rest of the house. Focus on that one little corner in your kitchen.

don't bite off more than you can chew

Aim for the inch, and not the yard. Before you know it, you will have reached those thirty-six inches by conquering one inch at a time.

Too often we fail to contemplate that the successes we see in others didn’t happen overnight. They happened by completing one course at a time, fulfilling a month of daily practice, all adding up to a year of continually taking small steps.

There’s a song that encourages us to focus on the little in order to accomplish big things. Here are the lyrics.


Little By Little 
by: Ron Hamilton 
When mountains tower rugged and high, 
Rise to the challenge, look to the sky. 
Trust in the Lord and start out to climb, 
Reach for the goal one step at a time.
Little by little, inch by inch; 
By the yard it’s hard, 
By the inch, what a cinch; 
Never stare up the stairs, 
Just step up the steps; 
Little by little, inch by inch. 
2nd verse 
Growing in Christ takes work every day, 
Reading your Bible, learning to pray. 
Build Godly habits, seek help divine. 
Great things are done one step at a time. 
To hear this song, click on this link. You might need to follow the lyrics listed above to hear all the words as they are being sung by the children.
There you have it. Be realistic. Be consistent. Be reliable. It can happen – inch by inch. 
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