Small Beginnings – Part 2

Zechariah 4:8-10 (NLT)
8 Then another message came to me from the Lord:
9 “Zerubbabel is the one who laid the foundation of this Temple, and he will complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has sent me.
10 Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

(Background:
Zerubbabel – The leader of the tribe of Judah at the time of their return from captivity in Babylon.
Zechariah – A priest and prophet of the tribe of Judah who encouraged the people in the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem.

How many of you are familiar with the phrase, “Don’t despise small beginnings”?

What does it mean?

Everything we undertake begins small.  The largest, most complex projects often begin with a tiny idea. The largest buildings began with a small excavation. Yet, in an age when everything seems so instant, we often want to skip over the small part and jump to the large conclusion.

In your life and mine, there are things which seem small which need our attention. You are not going to lose 10 pounds before you lose one. You are not going to learn difficult and complex processes for work or recreation without having first learned many smaller, seemingly, less important skills.

Can you imagine learning to write without first learning the alphabet? Or learning to add and subtract without learning numerical sequence? We often want to jump right in and start doing the flashy, conspicuous thing that everybody sees. But what’s the benefit of everybody seeing you do something shoddily? Skipping steps or being haphazard with the details is a sure way to become discouraged, disappointed and/or embarrassed.

Now I may lean “a little” toward perfectionism. It’s not always an attractive trait. There are times when 99%, 95%, maybe even 90% is good enough. If we wait to do everything until it’s the perfect time or we are perfectly prepared, we may never actually do anything. So I understand that perfection isn’t the goal. On the other hand, we should at least try to recognize what perfection (or excellence) looks like in order for us to assess whether or not we’re moving in the right direction and when we are close enough to acceptably put ourselves or our effort out there.

You see, the small things matter. This is true for practically every meaningful endeavor in life. If you skip the small things, odds are the end product will be disappointing. It will lack integrity and it will likely not endure.

Listen! Half-hearted is pretty much the same as “no-hearted.” If you can’t engage your passion toward what you do then it’s probably not worth doing.

I try to employ this mindset to whatever I do. For instance, during the summer I regularly mow my lawn and the lawn of the Airbnb behind me. Our lawns adjoin so doing both is a help to my neighbor and a benefit to me as I get to enjoy the beauty of both lawns looking like they are one grassy expanse. We have arranged some trades in services which are also beneficial to me so it’s a win-win for us both.

I’m pretty particular with how I mow. For instance, I always bag the grass so there is no hay left on the lawn. But there are times when bagging grass is tedious because I’ve waited too long between mowings or because the grass has grown so fast. In those cases it takes much longer to mow because the bag must be emptied more often and I have to mow slower to capture it all.

Now, I could simply race through it and leave areas where there are clumps of thatch or places where the grass seems more knocked down than mowed. But I take the extra time because the end result is both pleasing and because it reflects my commitment to giving my best effort to whatever I do.

Now it’s true that we all have areas in our lives where we have come to accept less than perfect and we have made our peace with it. There was a time when I would rake the leaves in my yard until the last leaf was collected. But I now have a leaf blower that makes the job easier and faster and I have learned to accept that 98% leaf-free is acceptable. The next couple of mowings will clean up the straggling leaves and it will look just fine. Age and wisdom have tempered my perfectionism in that area.

It’s okay (even wise) to be selective about where you invest maximum effort. Just know that you won’t be the first picked if you’re a skilled baseball player who wants to try their hand at football. Always do well, what you do well. And take the time to learn what that is. Dabbling in everyone else’s pie when yours isn’t completely baked isn’t a recipe for success.

This idea of doing well what you do well and are passionate about is, at least in part, what underlies our small group philosophy here at LifePoint. We want you to discover your passion for ministry and apply yourself to the realization of that passion. You may need to take classes, attend seminars and practice, practice, practice until you develop your skills. You may need to do a hundred small projects to equip yourself to do that one large project. You also must have enough passion that you can convince others to join your endeavor because they see you’ve proven yourself. We are better when we combine our efforts and multiply our mental and physical energy. And if your passion requires financial underwriting you should be the first to invest in it. After all, if you don’t believe in it enough to put up your money, don’t expect others to dig deep to help make it work.

And sometimes, along the way, we discover this wasn’t our passion at all. Maybe it was just an interest. That’s okay. I’m convinced we all eventually discover our true passion. Keep trying.

 

Support your ministry passion first and contribute to the greater community to a lesser extent. If you’re going to do well with the passion God has birthed in your heart, you will probably need to invest in it. Start with what you can do now and increase your efforts as you are able.  Don’t despise the small beginnings.

STM_logo2017_1x1

And like I said last time, you cannot rush excellence. Most excellence is built upon a foundation of many small things which are done right. You get the small things right and the end result is excellent.

Speak Your Mind

*

...