Abundant Living Vol. XVIII, Issue 46

“Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”  – James 3:5 

Big, I think, is often overrated.  Yet, we live in a culture that seems to promote big, applaud big, and thrive on big.  Big has somehow become the definition of success, the bigger the better as we have come to believe – big business, big cities, big schools, big churches, big banks, and big government.  We look up to, practically worship sometimes, big name people, the rich and famous, super-star entertainers, athletes, and politicians.  Like the majority of those in our culture today, I have spent my adult life living in and around urban areas, working for a huge international investment banking company, where I too became indoctrinated into equating success with size.

My formative years, however, were quite the contrary where I grew up attending small schools in a small rural community whose economy was driven mostly by small farmers and small businesses like the one my own family operated.  Everything was small.  Yet even there we were encouraged by our parents, teachers, and other influencers to pursue bigger things.  That is as it should be, of course, for they simply desired for us a better life, to reach our full potential, just as we desire for our own children today.

Over the years I have come to recognize and appreciate that big is nothing more than an accumulation of  several smalls.  Cities are accumulations of small towns like I grew up in, clusters of people and families who form their own community where they love, care, and protect each other.  Likewise, big corporations are nothing more than an accumulation of small businesses where people collaborate and work together toward a profitable and rewarding outcome.  It was the experience of living in a small town that influenced me to seek out a small town within the big city, and it was our family’s small business that inspired me to develop a successful small business within a giant company.

Big is often overrated, not because it is bad, but because we tend to view it from the top down rather than the bottom up.  It is hard to see living in a culture that tends to promote, applaud, and thrive on big, that big would not exist except for the accumulation of a lot of smalls.  May we never underestimate the power and influence of small groups, small communities, and small businesses, and “. . . what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”

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