In the winter of 1914, Herbert W. Armstrong traveled extensively throughout the central-eastern United States on business trips for a national trade journal. It was at this time that paying huge tips to his bellboy helped him learn a very important lesson.
“I was sleeping so well nights that I was having a fight with willpower to awaken and get up mornings,” he wrote. “Everything I had read about the lives of great and successful men on the subject indicated that all such men are early risers” (Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong). Mr. Armstrong was well aware of the company of great men before him who labored to wake early, but he had the deplorable habit of drowsily turning off the alarm, rolling over and going right back to sleep!
He had to push himself beyond just relying on his alarm clock to solidify the habit of rising early. In desperation, he employed the bellboy to awaken him—and at a high price! Mr. Armstrong paid the bellboy to get him out of bed and remain in the room until he was dressed. He paid him a silver dollar—that’s more than $10 at today’s rate—and he paid that each morning until he had set the habit in stone. Talk about an investment!
The early bird gets the worm. This is an idiom with unmistakable truth.
For God’s people, the most critical work of the day occurs before we leave for work. An observer might say of us, “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he [or she] went out … into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35). As David said, we too might say, “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up” (Psalm 5:3). The commitment to give the spiritual the first importance underpins the need to awake early. The example of the spiritual giants we follow and God’s testimony on awakening early should encourage us to rise ’n’ shine!
Jesus Christ is the model. David, Joshua and many other men of the Bible also rose early. What did Solomon, a man endowed with colossal wisdom from God, have to say about this? “Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread” (Proverbs 20:13). Why mention this unless it can be difficult to wake up? It often requires a battle to establish this right habit.
Of course, there are occasions when some people simply cannot wake up early because of conflicts with their schedule or special circumstances outside their control. But the principle remains: The commitment to give the spiritual things first priority should drive us on to give our best time to God.
To consistently wake up early, we must start by determining to do it. But that is not the most formidable foe in this struggle. The hardest part is following through—solidifying the habit. But if we do, the yield will be worth it.
Rising early is an exercise in character. Our God has colossal willpower. What He determines to do, He does. What is our spiritual stance when we face the battle of waking early? Self-discipline grows like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. Determining to get up early every morning against your will, and doing it, is a sure way to build self-discipline. Rising early every day makes rising early that much easier.
Rising early is a battle. It can be extremely difficult, so why not employ reinforcements? Ask for help from a dedicated friend, a family member in the home, or a fellow student. Think long-term cooperation. Dedicate yourself! Dig in! If you’re willing to follow in the shoes of Mr. Armstrong, you could even pay someone to wake you up. Do whatever it takes!
Better yet—be the bellboy! When you agree to awaken someone else in the morning, it will also help you wake up. Sometimes we need that extra commitment. If we know someone else is relying on us, it provides extra incentive.
Immediately take up arms! Don’t give yourself time to listen to the lethargic voice in your mind. It will do all it can to weigh you down, pull you back to bed and shut off the alarm. At the first whim of consciousness, say in your mind, “Don’t trust yourself.” If it’s not wise to grocery shop on an empty stomach, it’s not wise to negotiate waking hours before you’ve made it out of bed.
Proverbs 20:13 says, “[O]pen thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.” This inspired nugget of wisdom demands that we see the potential of today—of every day! If we see the potential, we’ll be propelled forward. We will miss opportunities and character growth if we don’t make a habit of rising early.
Rising early is a challenge we all face. Great men of the Bible forged this skill into their character through relentless effort. God says to open your eyes and you will be satisfied! There’s so much to achieve—so much yet on the horizon—that can be ours if we awake to the challenges we face each day.
Be the bellboy! Seize the hour—from the minute you wake up—and you will be delighted in the bounty of God’s blessings.