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Missions 101

Being Faithful in the Small Things is a Big Thing

Jan. 27, 2012By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

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 thing.

Follow Through

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

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