After teaching his people to care for the poor and the needy, King Benjamin added a caution: “See that all these things are done in wisdom and order,” he said, “for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength.” He added that it is important to be diligent, “that thereby he might win the prize.” And he concluded, “Therefore, all things must be done in order” (Mosiah 4:27). Benjamin is not asking us to abandon our goals; he’s asking us to pace ourselves so that we can achieve them. He’s not encouraging us to lower the bar; he’s encouraging us to train wisely so that we can actually clear it. Like the Apostle Paul, he’s telling us to “run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Most worthwhile goals are hard. We will encounter discouragement and unexpected challenges along the way. We will need grit and determination to achieve them. But the last thing we want is to start projects we can’t finish, to dream big but to actually accomplish very little.
That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t stretch ourselves. But if we really care about our goals, it’s worth taking some time to make a plan and “count the cost” (Luke 14:28). Benjamin isn’t telling us to do less; he’s inviting us to accomplish more by being organized and disciplined about how we do it. Carefully scoping our goals may enable us to maximize our impact over the long haul. A small project completed well may be more impactful than a large one executed poorly or abandoned. Smaller projects may also help us develop skills and knowledge which enable us over time to tackle bigger ones.
Today, I will remember King Benjamin’s advice. Because I want to be an active and productive disciple of Jesus Christ, I will continue to set goals. I will continue to strive to improve myself and to serve others. And I will remember the importance of pacing myself, of doing all these things “in wisdom and order.”