The book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff has been popular since its 1996 release because it teaches not to let the small things in life bog you down. For the most part, I think that the book’s message is a noble one, and something Christ followers can benefit from. I do think there are some small stuff you should sweat. Let me explain.
When I say we “should sweat the small stuff,” I don’t mean we should worry about mundane things.
As Christians, we know that we are to be anxious about nothing (Philippians 4:6-7). I do mean that we should seek to glorify God by putting forth effort (sweat) to make the “small stuff” in our lives bear the most fruit for Christ. We should recognize that a lot of “small stuff” often makes up the greater whole of our lives.
The daughter of a friend of mine was born without much hair. Throughout the first 12 months of her life, she did not have much hair to speak of, and it did not appear to be growing quickly. I would see her about every weekend and at a certain point I began to see a noticeable difference in her hair that her parents and aunts didn’t always notice. Something that I noticed each week was not very visible day-to-day.
Growth is not usually noticeable day-to-day like it is over the long haul. But it is day-to-day growth that makes long term growth what it is. That growth is made up of “small stuff.”
Scripture mentions this idea at least a couple of times: we are called to redeem the time (Colossians 4:5) and make the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:16).
There is an unlimited number of examples to illustrate this point: grass grows a little each day before it needs cutting, going to school each day over time produces an education, practicing the spiritual disciplines each day builds a stronger Christian.
This means realizing that our small decisions and small pockets of time we make are part of a bigger work that God is doing in us.
During my college days, I had the great opportunity to study abroad in Ecuador and improve my Spanish quite a bit. Since that time, I have desired to grow my Spanish abilities for ministry– but I have not been able to learn and practice as much as I would like. In spite of that, I have seen that sowing little seeds like reading the Bible in Spanish daily, listening to music in Spanish, and making Spanish speaking friends has reaped a big harvest in my language skills.
The small choices I made had a compounding effect. Those small choices helped me improve a skill that otherwise I would have not had time for. Praying about this idea and meditating on the sovereignty of God gives me hope for two reasons:
- During the daily grind, I can remember that God will use what I am able to give him
- I can remember that God has control of everything and will accomplish his purposes in me
What small stuff can you do each day to better serve the Lord? How can you apply this principle to your study of Scripture or prayer life? Your professional life? Your family life? Your ministry?
My prayer is that God in his grace would continually to use the small stuff in our lives for his glory and purposes.