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Worst First Do the Hard Things a thing worth doing ATWD Daniel Webster - worship, ministry, and culture

Worst First

“Worst First” Has Something to do with Rotten Fruit

When I was a teenager, I had a couple lawns that I mowed in the neighborhood. I loved cutting grass and still do—looking back over a freshly cut and weed-eated lawn gives a wonderful sense of satisfaction. Hard work has great reward! 

There was one particular lawn that had several fruit trees. So, on a hot summer day when the fruit had fallen on the ground and the bees and flies were particularly active, that part of the yard was quite unpleasant to cut. Of course, I would save that part for last, employing a Worst Last approach. While cutting the rest of the yard, all I could think about was the unlikable experience that I would soon face; the fear of being stung by a bee and the nasty feeling of rotten pears on my hands made the entire job miserable. As is often the case in life, it often hard to enjoy a normally pleasant experience when an unpleasant experience is plaguing your thoughts. 

“Worst First” Has Something to do with Painting and Broccoli

A couple years later, while working at my new job as a residential painter, the lead painter gave me a list of things to do for the day. One of them was getting down on my hands and knees outside in the summer heat and scraping the dirt and rocks away from the foundation of a house so that the exterior of the house could be sprayed. He looked at me and said, “You need to start here behind these big holly bushes. That will be the hardest part and we always do Worst First.” 

That’s always stuck with me. Whenever I’m working on a project to this day I can hear the lead painter say, “We always do Worst First.” I’ve taught this to my children. One of my kids decided he didn’t want broccoli on his plate; his mom put it on there anyway. So, when I sat down with my plate, I called his name and motioned toward my broccoli and said, “Worst first.” He knew exactly what I meant because we had been talking about worst first earlier in the day while raking leaves. He picked up his fork, downed his broccoli in a couple bites, and then proceeded to enjoy his pork chop. 

Whether it’s completing yard work, eating broccoli, doing your homework, cleaning your room, or organizing the garage, worst first is an important principle for you to implement in your daily life because it shapes your character. 

“Worst First” Has Something to do with Following Jesus  

In the Christian life, we often talk about “being on fire” or “God’s will” or “feeling the Lord’s presence” like it’s some kind of magical, mystical fairy dust. But when it comes to following God, Jesus used imagery that evokes hard work. He told his disciples to “take up your cross” (Matthew 16:24-26) and to “take my yoke upon you” (Matthew 11:29-30). He equated aspects of the Christian life with plowing a field (Luke 9:62), building a house (Matthew 7:24-27), and casting a heavy net (Matthew 4:19). 

Now understand, we don’t work our way to heaven or work our way into favor with God. Our standing in the eyes of God is totally and completely in Jesus Christ. But still, God expects something of us; He expects us to apply ourselves and to give Him our best. “Worst first” is an important principle for you to implement in your daily life not only because it will help you get things done, but because the Spirit can use this mindset to help you endure the trials of this life as you live out your faith in full reliance on God. 


This article appeared in Man to Man, my column in D6 Family magazines.

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bio picture for Daniel Webster A Thing Worth Doing ATWD blog - worship, ministry, and culture

Daniel Aaron Webster is a minister, writer, and teacher. His primary research interest is Early Christian music, especially the musical thought of Clement of Alexandria.

Daniel serves at Welch College as Director of Enrollment & Marketing and as Adjunct Instructor of Music & Theology. He also serves as the Associate Pastor for Music & Worship at Immanuel Church in Gallatin, TN.

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