Slay Your Dragons Before Breakfast

St. George and the Dragon

3 Disciplines for Achieving Daily Victory

I awoke this morning to the dragon’s hot breath on my face. I was disoriented, not quite knowing where I was. I struggled to open one eye. Then another.

And there he was. A dragon. A very big dragon. With three heads. Sitting in my bedroom, like so many mornings before, he was waiting. His heads swerved back and forth, dancing in the dim light. Each head alternately belching fire and hissing smoke.I groaned. Here we go again, I thought. If only I could shut my eyes and will him away. No such luck. His presence only grew more menacing.

I knew that I had to act. I leapt from the bed and ran straight at him. I have learned by experience that my only chance at victory is to slay the dragon while it is still dark. Before the first rays of sunshine strengthen his already substantial advantage.

Fortunately, once again I prevailed. But my victory is short-lived. I will face him again tomorrow. And the day after that.

Although this sounds like a fairy tale, it’s not. It’s my reality, day after day.

I face a dragon named Lethargy every morning. It has three heads: Pneuma (spiritual), Soma (physical), and Nous (intellectual).

If I don’t slay this dragon before breakfast, he usually gets the best of me. After breakfast—when the day’s activities are crowding into my life—my chances of doing battle and winning drop dramatically. Sometimes I can emerge victorious. But rarely.

My chances are better if I get in my basic disciplines before I get assaulted with the demands of the workday.

So, before breakfast, I complete the following:

  1. Read the Bible. I use this weapon to cut off the dragon’s middle head. I don’t know why it is so hard to defeat, but it is. A thousand and one distractions vie for my attention. That’s why I grab a cup of fresh tea, head to my favorite den chair, and begin reading at once.The Scriptures prime the pump and strengthen my resolve. If I can cut off the middle head of spiritual lethargy, the other two go down much easier. Currently, I am reading through the Bible in a year, using The NKJV Daily Bible (Kindle Edition).
  2. Engage in exercise. I use this weapon to cut off the dragon’s left head: physical lethargy. Sometimes, I think this is even more important than the middle head. Why? Because if I am not exercising regularly, it negatively impacts every other area of my life. It becomes more difficult to manage stress. I find that I just don’t have the energy to fight the other beasts I encounter.Currently, I am doing cardio four mornings a week for one hour and strength training two days a week for one hour. Weather permitting, I run outside. Otherwise, I am in the gym. Gail and I usually go together. It's helpful to have an accountability partner.
  3. Listen to books. I use this weapon to cut off the dragon’s right head: intellectual lethargy. I learned a long time ago that “leaders read and readers lead.” By definition a leader (as opposed to a mere manager) stays out in front of his people. To lead, you have to set the pace. You have to be a thought leader.The problem I have is that it is difficult for me to sit still. I have a hard time finding a long enough stretch in the day to sit down and really read. I keep getting interrupted—or distracted.

    However, by downloading books from Audible.com onto my iPhone, I can listen to books while I’m working out. Honestly, there are days when I hate to stop running or exercising because I am so engrossed in my book. It makes the time fly by.

Though I don’t do it before breakfast, I have one other discipline that I try to practice daily: prayer. I find that the best time for me to pray is in the car. This was easy when I had a commute. It usually took 35–40 minutes, so I had plenty of time. Now, I take advantage of any trip in the car. It's become my rolling ”prayer closet.”

So what are your biggest dragons? What is your strategy for defeating them before breakfast?

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