“We can do no great thing just small things with great love” – Mother Teresa
Earlier in the summer I spent at couple of weeks helping out as a counsellor at a Christian teen camp (Beaver Cross) in Albany, New York. Myself and on of the other counsellors, who shall be known as Cassie (seen as that is her name) developed a morning high-five routine – it involved a double high-five (both hands high-fiving consecutively) from which I would then slide into a thumbs up – it was pretty cool. We did it first thing pretty much every morning, and at one point Cassie remarked that it was the thought of the high-five that got her up in the mornings.
Now there was a problem – I was only over for 2 weeks, so would be leaving before she was, which would mean no more morning high-fives. On my last night at the camp a group of us counsellors had stayed up late watching stars and then a movie (The Pacifist if you are curious, not the best movie I’ve ever seen it has to be said). And midway through the movie I had a brainwave. There was an affirmation board for camp staff to leave encouraging messages for each other, so the next morning I got a page of paper, drew around my hands, and left a high-five themed affirmation (I put that verse from Isaiah 41 where God promises to hold us by our right hand – Isaiah 41:13) for Cassie on the board with instructions not to open it til the next morning (when I wouldn’t be there). That way not only would she get an affirmation, but she’d still kind of get a high-five. Through Facebook she has since informed me that that was “the sweetest thing.” Which got me thinking…
See, so often we fall into this trap of thinking that to make a difference in people’s lives we need to do some huge big thing, put on a big outreach event, that sort of thing. But I was able to make a pretty big impact with an outline of my hands, something pretty small and simple to do.
This got me thinking of Mother Teresa’s famous quote, “We can do no great things just small things with great love”. And it got me wondering – how often are we put off doing anything because we don’t think we’ll be able to do anything ‘big’ enough to make a difference? Because the thing is, we don’t need to do big things. More often than not it is the smaller, simple, personal things that make a massive difference. Things like saying hello to that person no-one talks to at school. Things like passing on a book you enjoyed to a friend. They may not seem like they could ever make a difference, but remember that “nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless” – 1 Corinthians 15:58.
I want to finish with one final example. While at Beaver Cross we counsellors had an afternoon trip to Lake George one Saturday when there were no kids. There was a pirate mini golf that some of the guys planned to go on, and they decided to dress up as pirates to try and get in for free (they ended up getting discount and phone numbers from girls). En route we stopped for petrol, and one of the pirates, Steve, went and bought ice pops for everyone. He had some left over, so he gave them to these random hardcore, leathers and all biker guys who were hanging about outside the petrol station. Probably not going to be a moment of epiphany for the bikers, but something that challenged me personally, as I hadn’t even thought of getting ice pops for those that were with us, never mind giving some to random bikers.
You see not only will our small acts of great love impact those on the receiving end; they’ll also challenge those around us. In Hebrews 10:24 we are told to “Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.” Maybe the simplest way to do that is simply by doing the small good deeds with great love ourselves, letting our Christian friends around us be challenged and inspired to do likewise.
So today I want to challenge you to do something simple, with great love, for someone. I want to challenge you to stop looking for big things to do to change the world, and start looking for small things you can do to impact the lives of individuals. And it’d be great if, through the comments here, you could share some of your ideas of simple things you either have done or plan on doing to act as a challenge and encouragement to each other.