Farmville Enterprise July 25, 2018
“That kid is going to do big things.” “This child is destined for greatness.” What sorts of things do we typically mean when making comments like these? Are we generally saying that the young person might grow up to be an effective teacher, a faithful minister or a wise and loving parent?
In “Dream Small” Josh Wilson sings, “It’s a momma singing songs about the Lord. It’s a daddy spending family time that the world says he cannot afford. These simple moments change the world. It’s a pastor at a tiny little church, 40 years of loving on the broken and the hurt. These simple moments change the world. Dream small. Don’t bother like you’ve got to do it all. Just let Jesus use you where you are, one day at a time. Live well, loving God and others as yourself. Find little ways where only you can help. With his great love a tiny rock can make a giant fall. Dream small.” The artist goes on to say, “Of course, there’s nothing wrong with bigger dreams. Just don’t miss the minutes on your way, your bigger things.”
Most of us would acknowledge readily that true success is not about fame and fortune, but beneath the surface do we consider certain lucrative professions as superior to others that pay less but are quite service oriented? At times do we worry that someone is wasting talents if she/he is not reaching a wide enough audience on a large platform or is not with a prestigious organization?
The church is not immune from such attitudes. Across denominations some ministers apply only to work in congregations where the membership is above 100 or 200. According to a Barna Group study in September 2016 “Almost half (46%) attend a church of 100 or fewer members. More than one-third (37%) attend a midsize church of over 100, but not larger than 499. One in 11 (9%) attends a church between 500 and 999 attenders, and slightly fewer (8%) attend a very large church of 1,000 or more attendees.” A 2015 study from the Hartford Institute for Religious Research found that most churches in the U.S. had fewer than 100 in weekend worship attendance, with almost 58 percent not reaching triple digits on any given weekend.
Certainly, it is understandable for ministers to want jobs that will allow them to support themselves. My husband had a seminary professor who noted, however, how interesting it was that most pastors got “called to higher-paying positions.” In Sunday School do we tend to want our best Bible teachers in with the children or with the adults? Do we inadvertently elevate those whose God-given gifts are more flashy or noticeable?
Micah 5:2 is a prophecy about the Messiah. “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times.” The Hebrew word for “small” here could be translated “insignificant.” Jesus did not come from one of the big, important clans. Throughout Scripture we see God use seemingly weak, insignificant people to accomplish his purpose.
Jesus preached to thousands but invested most deeply in 12 disciples. He taught revolutionary ideas: The last shall be first. The greatest among us should be a servant. Adults must approach God with the attitude of little children. We will gain everything if we give up everything.
Whether God calls us to fulfill dreams that seem big in the eyes of the world or those considered average or small, we will help change the world through our acts of love.