Commentary: Little things are big in God’s plan


Reggie’s black hoodie complemented his salt and pepper beard. Sitting on stools in the church foyer, I took notes while leaning on a counter. We talked, as old friends do, and discussed our place in God’s overall plan.

Reggie, his face beaming from the memory of when God gave him a ministry, pointed out he saw himself as being unfit for his calling. He soon realized it didn’t matter how he felt about the challenges he faced. With obedience being the only path to follow, this associate pastor went to work doing whatever needed done.

With small and seemingly insignificant actions, Reggie settled immediately into a pattern of lifting the spirits of anyone he encountered. On any given Sunday morning, this man of God will be seen welcoming people to church with sincere encouraging words and a smile the size of Texas.

I also have been blessed with results of steady, small efforts at drawing others closer to Christ. A buddy of mine from work never had been mentored and needed a slow, steady guiding hand.

At the time, my efforts to “show him the way” seemed to be going nowhere fast. But, as is often the case, when I considered giving up on him after about a decade, this usually sarcastic man approached me and sincerely voiced thanks for “sticking with me all these years.”

Life doesn’t get much better than hearing that kind of affirmation. This came on the heels of simply taking a little time to spread God’s love to those who, for whatever reason, needed his touch.

Little things communicate much

Before going to X-ray school, a man I barely knew told me, “You have what it takes to do well in the medical field.”

This guy didn’t know me from Adam, yet his simple encouragement, along with other positive attitudes, led to a successful 35 years as an X-ray tech. This job presented opportunities to bring comfort to suffering people all over the place.

I never made much of a splash on any given day. However, I quickly found the simple things—such as a warm blanket for a “freezing” patient, a cup of coffee for a sleepy husband, or a cookie or two for a fretful child who doesn’t understand why his or her leg hurts—will work wonders.

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You’ll spend a little time and maybe a couple bucks to grab a soft drink and a snack, but the reward God gives for displaying his love through our actions is priceless.

Recently, I spoke on the phone with Joel while he was driving a truck to Texas. This friend of mine—and everyone else’s—is a magnificent greeter at church, with his booming voice and iron handshake.

When Joel gives a greeting, it’s obvious he is happy to see you. This is not hard work for him, because by nature he is a very friendly extrovert. But if he just rolled in from New England, he might not feel like greeting the public. Like me, Joel understands that regardless of any mood we might be in, those folks walking up to the door still need to feel welcome in our congregation.

On his assigned Sundays to greet, he will yell to me: “How you doing, Steve? You all right, old timer?”

This always brings a laugh and smile to me. His sincerity and obvious joy while answering God’s call on his life spreads like wildfire and has everyone within earshot grinning.

Little things are part of the plan

Like anyone called to behind the scenes ministries, everyone featured in this writing understands God has specific work and bountiful rewards in place for us. We each have a strong enough personality for something more appreciated. But it is irrelevant if where God places us doesn’t line up with our preferences or comfort zone.

As a drummer, I know of no task more important and less appreciated than percussion instruments in a spirited worship service. While playing my tubs certainly had its trials, I easily held down that spot for about 30 years.

I’m not playing drums in church now. My current assignment lies elsewhere, and it’s a long way from my comfort zone. But it’s where God placed me; so, here I’ll serve.

God is in the best position to put us where we will be the most productive. All he needs is a little cooperation from us. The simple, seemingly insignificant things God asks of us are the bedrock on which our local congregations rest.

Anytime an encouraging word is offered, or an effort is made to lend a helping hand, God’s love is displayed by our actions. It’s the small stuff that makes the difference.

God views the “little things” we do in his name as though we are doing them for him personally. Answer ‘yes’ when asked. God will fill in the blanks.

Steve Carter has been in Christian ministry more than 50 years as a Sunday school teacher, youth ministry worker, musician, hospice chaplain and Mississippi State Guard chaplain. He lives in Tupelo, Miss., and can be emailed at [email protected]. The views expressed are those of the author.

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