Monday, July 12, 2010

Think Small, Because Small Changes the World

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When Megan graduated from highschool last year, her father gave a charge to the graduates. But it wasn’t a kind of charge that is limited in applicability only to a graduating class. It’s five pieces of wisdom that he wanted to share with his little girl about the world she was entering. And because we thought they were so wise, Megan is going to share these five ideas from her Dad within the next few weeks, recreating what she can from his notecards. So today we introduce Part I of Megan's series, Wisdom from My Father.
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Part I: Think Small, Because Small Changes the World

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One of my father’s good friends is a man named John Duffy. He is a brilliant criminal defense lawyer, and he is always doing something to help others. As a young lawyer in the ’60s, he risked his life to go down south and become a “freedom fighter," using the court system as a battleground to defend the African Americans’ rights to vote. In the 70s, he was quickly gaining attention for his work as a lawyer, and he was the main lawyer to try the very high-profile ABSCAM case. (I don’t remember what this was, but your parents probably do. And it was a big deal.) He was poised for success, and indeed had already tasted much of it.
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There was only one problem. He was an alcoholic, and it was destroying all he had. He lost his marriage, his family, his license to practice law, and his dignity. He lost everything. He went to rehab, but it didn’t do much to help; all he wanted was to get out and drink.
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And then one night, one of the staffers stayed late. He gave a few hours, after everyone else had gone, and talked to John. He believed in him, believed he could turn his life around. And John’s life was forever changed by those few hours that no one knew about.
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John has now been sober for over 30 years. He won his license back. His brilliant work in criminal defense has continued, he remarried, and he has been honored for many things. He has also helped thousands of former alcoholics recover, devoting himself to pulling others out of the same pit he was in. He has done so much and helped so many.
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And all because one man spent a few hours with a (hopeless) alcoholic. No one else knew about it; he probably didn’t consider those hours very important. But small things change the world.
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Helen Keller says, “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” And Mother Teresa has been oft-quoted for the comment, “We can do no great things; only small things with great love.”
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In the end, it is often the small things that are the most important and have the greatest impact. And Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed – the tiniest seed imaginable. And yet, “though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree…” (Matthew 13:32). The very Kingdom of God works and spreads through the little things, the seemingly insignificant things.
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The big things are important. And don’t give up your dreams or passion to change the world. But don’t forget that often the most important things are the small seeds you plant, one at a time. You might never see the tree – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t grow and it’s not there.
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Think small, because small changes the world.
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Check back next Monday for Part II: Stand on Your Head, Because the World is Upside Down.
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3 comments:

  1. Thank you! I needed to hear that today.

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  2. Wow! That is SO true. Just yesterday in church a young man spoke up about how he feels like he wants to change the world. But then he realizes that you have to focus on the day by day, moment by moment challenges ahead of you. It is so true and learning to live that way is a precious gift.

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  3. Wow! That is such great challenge to me. I just graduated this year and I want my life to impact on those around me for Christ. The example of the impact a few hours can have is a huge encouragement to me!!

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