Small Things Still Matter

While reading another chapter in Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life” I was reminded that it’s the small things that matter most.  I’m not sure if it’s ADD or the consequences of a culture that bombards us with advice to look for big opportunities, dream big, and shoot for the moon, but this is a lesson I have to constantly rediscover.  While big thoughts and dreams are not inherently wrong, thinking totally on the big stuff is self-limiting.  Big and small are both important and here’s why.

  • Reality – Life is made up of an unimaginable number of small matters.  If we miss the small, we miss life itself.
  • Process – Big outcomes are the sum total of small achievements.  Whether or not we do something big depends on what we do, one small step at a time.
  • Perspective – Without small things, big things would seem small.  What is big is big only by comparison.  Small things create perspective.
  • Preparation – Small things prepare us for big things.  Mastery of small skills leads to mastery of great capabilities.
  • Trust – Being faithful with little matters is evidence that we can be trusted with larger ones.  Conversely, if we are untrustworthy about the small, why would anyone trust us with something huge?
  • Significance – Small things make a bigger impact than we realize.  How we perform with small matters shows how much or how little we care.  Being intentional and  consistent about doing the small things is better evidence that we care than a one-time big act.

Meaning Trumps Magnitude

You might be surprised that it was Warren’s chapter entitled, “Planned for God’s Pleasure” that inspired these thoughts.  I certainly was.  I think it was his examples of the different acts of worship, which include serving others, and how these seemingly routine and minor acts can be pleasing to God.  I realized that if we treat these small behaviors with the reverence they deserve, God will find favor with us.  And if these so-called “small things” are significant to God, shouldn’t they be to us as well?  Yes, small things do matter!

Touchdown Dances in Church?

In America, fall is the season for football.  Here in the Buckeye state, that means Ohio State football. Go Bucs!  So, it’s no surprise that Pastor Jim mentioned football today during a rousing sermon about the New Covenant.  Indirectly, he invited our response by suggesting that we oughta celebrate Jesus like a Buckeye touchdown.  There was a noticeable tension in the air and a handful of amens scattered about the auditorium.

I sensed his disappointment that people didn’t rise to their feet and share high-fives.  I’ll admit my first thought was to stand and give the touchdown signal.  I resisted the temptation.  And I had visions of others doing touchdown celebration dances in the aisles.  Apparently they resisted, too.  I wonder, would the response have been different if Pastor Jim had been more specific about his expectations?  That is, did we need permission to act outside of our conservative church protocol?

Instead of acting like a crazy sports fanatic in a place of worship, I remained safely within established church protocol and channeled my enthusiasm into jotting down the following thoughts about this metaphor:

  • Thought #1:  The touchdown signal resembles arms reaching up to God.  (There once was a giant statue on I-75 between Dayton and Cincinnati nicknamed “Touchdown Jesus.”)
  • Thought #2:  2000 years ago, Jesus touched down on earth so that we might touch God.
  • Thought #3:  As our beloved Buckeyes march down field toward the endzone, anticipation turns to cheers of excitement when the ball crosses the the goal line.  Jesus was God’s offense against sin and death. His death and resurrection are a spiritual touchdown that cannot be matched by any other event.
  • Thought #4: We celebrate football touchdowns.  Therefore, we should celebrate Jesus even more, even in church!

Protocols reflect culture.  Cultures change one person at a time.  Would a more demonstrative response this morning from one inspired person have kicked off a cultural change in our congregation?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that touchdown celebration dances have been added to our church’s playbook.  Who will be the first to call that play?