Small Things Can be Great Things

Small things may be exciting to those who create them, but they are seldom exciting to anyone else. If your neighbor decides to start a biotech company in his garage, would you be impressed with that? 

Me neither. 

Because the likelihood of success is small, even if “success” is defined as “able to replace his current annual income.” 

You have probably seen people with big ambitions start projects small and give up on them. Maybe you’ve done that  yourself. I have.

It is easy to look down on things that are small. But, consider this:

Every large human being, including great professional or olympic athletes–started off as a baby. Maybe they were big, by baby standards, but they still were tiny and feeble compared to any human adult. Yet they grew to be large and powerful.

Every large company started off as a small company. Apple, one of the largest and most profitable companies in the world, started in the garage of Steve Jobs’s parents house. 

Every large church started off as a small church. 

OK, there are some exceptions. A company that is spun-off from an international conglomerate or a church that is planted by a megachurch may start out larger than a startup with one founder. But, even then, those large start-ups began as an idea, a desire, in someone’s heart and mind.

In the Bible, God’s people were conquered by a foreign nation. That foreign nation destroyed their capitol city, Jerusalem, including the incredible temple that King Solomon had built. Many years later, they returned to Jerusalem, they had to start over. When they laid the foundation for a new temple, some of the people who were old enough to remember Solomon’s temple cried out of sadness. God’s prophet, Zechariah, spoke these words in Zechariah 4:9-10: “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?”

“Who dares despise the day of small things…?” Someone who is foolish, that’s who. Don’t be that person.

Here’s some advice if you are involved in something small and worried that it might always stay small or fail completely:

  1. If you have a desire to start something–a business, a ministry, a YouTube channel or blog–but you know it will start of small… so what? Everything starts off small. Don’t let your fear of failure or of meager success keep you from starting. 
  2. Also–and I’m totally guilty of this–don’t try to appear larger than you are. Instead, just do good work, serve your customers or readers or church members well. If you serve them well, they’ll be glad you exist. And, they might even tell other people about you which will cause you to grow. 
  3. Finally, realize that small things can be amazing. Here in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area where I live, we have a company called Zingerman’s. It is a family of restaurants and food-related business and it makes many millions of dollars every year. But it started off as a small Jewish deli in an old grocery store. By combining outstanding food with great service, they have built an incredible business. But compared to any national chain restaurant, Zingerman’s is small. In fact, let me compare Zingerman’s to Subway. Both of them make and sell sandwiches, and that’s where the comparisons end. Subway is a large, multi-national corporation with over 40,000 stores all over the world. Zingerman’s is in the Ann Arbor area only. But, ask anyone who has ever been to Zingerman’s if they’d rather go there or Subway and you will see which company is more amazing. Compared to Subway, Zingerman’s is small but being small hasn’t stopped them from being great. Take that lesson and apply it to your small business, your small church, your small project. Small can be beautiful; small can be amazing.
There may be a point where you give up on your small project. Don’t let that be today. Don’t give up on something small that you care about until you’ve done everything you can to make it great.