“The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation.” – Isaiah 60:22
“Do big things.” I once heard a man exclaim that his goal in life is just that, to “do big things”, and, I should add, to help and encourage other people to “do big things”. I’m inspired by that idea, aren’t you? Don’t you think he’s on to something?
What does it mean, though, to do big things? To me it is understanding the connection between the menial and the meaningful. We all need to clean our houses, for example, or do the laundry, mow the lawn, change the oil in our cars, and wash the dishes. Performing such chores is essential for living an orderly and productive life. What matters is the context in which we do such things. Remember the story about the two brick layers? When asked what they were doing, the first simply responded that he was laying bricks. But the other had a different perspective. “I’m building a cathedral,” he replied. The first viewed his work as menial, but the other saw it as meaningful.
Sometimes I’m the first bricklayer, and other times I’m the second. I’m the first bricklayer when I simply go through the motions, checking things off the to-do list, unconscious that such tasks might actually be meaningful. Other times, though, I attack my work with the same conviction as the second bricklayer, in the belief that whatever I am doing is part of something much bigger.
Doing big things requires the best of our human abilities, our deepest intellect, being innovative and creative, willing to take risks, to experiment with things that sometimes fail causing us to start all over. It also demands the menial, the small tasks, the grunt work, and the mundane. There is no better example of this than an artist who, staring at a blank canvas, visualizes an image of what he or she plans to create. But creation of that image requires careful attention to each shape, color, and the tiniest stoke of the brush.
Those who lead the charge in “doing big things” are like artists, giving careful attention to every detail, the tiniest stroke of the brush, especially in how they interact, relate, and communicate with others, for it is through the menial that one’s endeavors are transformed into the meaningful. It is the formula whereby, “The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation.”