Most of decisions that we make are small. They are often done when no one is around. Over
time they begin to add up and eventually make us who we are. Sometimes I hear
from Christians that if we are faithful in the small things, God will entrust
us with big things. I’m not so sure.
Small things are big things.
Let me give you a few examples:
If you are in vocational ministry you probably think of
money in terms of what others are giving and the budget of your
organization. You might even be thinking
about capital campaigns or general fundraising for a short-term missions or
digging a well somewhere on the other side of the world. In business you think of money in terms of
sales and personal giving. Maybe
you're an elder and know that Christians should manage their money well,
especially if they want to be in leadership!
Fair enough. But there are
smaller choices that reveal whether integrity has seeped into the details.
James Dobson, for all the criticism he has received during
his life, is known by his friends and enemies as a man of integrity. I once heard his son tell a story of when he
took some pens from Focus on Family to do his homework. When his Dad found out, he made him return
the pens. Donations had bought them and
they were not for personal use.
Do you use stamps belonging to your business or church for
personal use? What about when you need
to print something important – do you use the company/church printer and ink? Do you use the company card for lunch when
you would have gone on your own dime. Is the computer/iPad that was bought for you really what you needed, or what was cool to have? Small choices are big.
I have a friend who is CIO of a large company and holds a
MDiv from Westminster. He has been asked
many times to be an Executive Pastor and has turned them all down. One reason he tells me is because he thinks
he would have to fire all the pastors for poor communication (i.e.
shepherding). In his world, when someone
sends an email or leaves a message with a concern, the staff has 24 hours to respond, even if it is just an
acknowledgement of receipt.
For pastors and elders (and really anyone) - do you care for
your people in this way? Can you do the small thing and respond? I know there are some complicated scenarios,
but most of us (the 99%) have the bandwidth and competency to respond. Unless you have relatively low competency
when it comes to technology, this small thing reveals something big.
Ever dream about preaching in front of large groups? I’m not even sure it’s that bad of a
thought. The question for this post
however is, does your preparation change based on size? It’s fair to think that your preparation
would change in some ways. Audience is
important. But the seriousness in which
you approach preaching and teaching regardless of the audience says a lot about
who you are.
Almost ten years ago now I remember being very
convicted for throwing together a terrible sermon. I had been invited to a retirement home. I just threw it together – after all, they
were just old people in a rest home (this is what I was thinking!). I was convicted because not only did it not
honor God or His Word, but because His saints deserved a feast and I gave them scraps. It was a small thing that exposed a big
Have you ever promised something and not followed
through. When I think of this category I
think of a big promise I made to God and my wife the day we got married. But there are a lot of small promises we make
on a daily basis. Do you call people
back or pray for them when you say you will? It could be as simple as promising
your kids you will play with them, only to find yourself swamped in work and
back out. Sure, there are scenarios that
are difficult, but those are rare. A
godly man once told me to live by Psalm 15:4 – a righteous man swears to his
own hurt and does not change. If you say
you will do it, then do it.
These are all small and the list of these types of decisions
we make is long. Let’s not pretend that
the small choices are not a big deal.
The small choices are the ones that reveal who we are.
Darren Carlson is the Founder and President of Training Leaders International. As President, Darren oversees the general direction of the ministry and serves as an advocate for pastors with little access to formal training and thoughtful cross-cultural theological engagement. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.