I love this time of year. Of course I love Christmas and the opportunity to reflect and appreciate the many things we’ve been given, but for me it’s more than that. The New Year is a great, annual reminder of a fresh start. Many like to make big, sweeping declarations in January. I think it’s a healthy idea; planning ahead, setting goals, and giving fresh direction are all great and necessary things. But I also believe there are small, often-unnoticed changes each of us can make in how we think about accomplishing our goals, and they run an interesting parallel to the life of a Christ follower.
The bottom line is this: I think we get so focused on big, massive, sweeping changes that we often neglect the little things that, if focused on, make the big things happen. I’m a sports guy—with a sports family. And one of the most fascinating things about sports is that when a player or team focuses on doing the little things right, the big things tend to take care of themselves.
Baseball or softball is a great example of how the little things matter. If you go to the plate with the goal of hitting a home run, chances are you’re about to have an embarrassing walk back to the dugout. If your goal, however, is to have a quality at-bat, you’ll likely be very happy with the outcome.
I help coach a pretty good select softball team. We have a list of nine things that make an at-bat into a quality play to help the team win. The list ranges from reaching a base to forcing the opposing pitcher to throw more than normal. Little things. Our statistics show that if we get 15 quality at-bats a game, our chances of winning are raised dramatically.
Good teams—and good players—focus on the little things.
Take any of the popular New Year’s resolutions. The most common goal on January 1 is to lose weight. But a simple goal of losing weight isn’t enough to accomplish it. That’s too broad. But when we break that goal down into the “little things,” such as, “I’m going to work out five days a week,” “I’m going to eat 1500 calories a day,” or “I’m not going to drink any sodas,” you’ve got a much better chance of achievement. Those are small goals that, if done, will lead to the big changes we want to see.
Our lives as Christ followers take this same path. Most of the time, our goal of looking more like the disciple described in the Bible happens when we simply try to be a little better every day. I think God gets this – in Luke 16:10a, we find this: “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much….” This should have a huge impact on how we live.
Stay with me… when Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment of the law, he responded with, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’…” (Matthew 22:37-39).
There’s also this little bombshell in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
If we know that paying attention to the little details is the best way to accomplish goals, and God says that those who prove faithful in a very little thing will be faithful in much, and He gives us the two most important things to focus on, I have to believe this should equip us to do some amazing things in 2016.
If 2016 is going to be great, let’s commit to loving God and people better than we ever have. It’s what our Coach has been telling us for 2,000 years.
How can we love God and love people more? These might not sound like “little things,” and I completely agree. So let me help you break it down:
- Attend church each week
- Read one chapter a day from your Bible
- Volunteer to help someone you don’t know
- Make and effort to spend some extra time with your next door neighbor
- Ask God to help you understand that what you have is from Him, not your own efforts
- Ask God to help you see others the way He sees them, and respond accordingly
There are countless little things we can do to be more effective in the resolutions God calls most important. I challenge you to consider what little things you can do that, as a by-product, will help you accomplish your big goals. Let’s make 2016 unforgettable.