As the effects of a global pandemic linger on, it’s tempting to think we shouldn’t attempt to accomplish anything big. At least not right now. Of course, once “everything gets back to normal,” we will launch that new effort, recruit that new talent, or start that new church.

Admittedly, I have fallen prey to that thinking at times over the past months. But this week, while skiing in Colorado, I noticed a large orange sign posted at the upper end of a terrain park (A terrain park is a designated section of the ski resort that lures adventure junkies to try out their tricks). Before skiers and snowboarders drop over the edge to encounter a series of jumps and rails, they are cautioned to “Start Small.”

As I watched a skier come off a jump, cross his skis in the air, and twist like an X-Games contender, I thought a more fitting message for the expert terrain park might be, “Go Big Or Go Home.” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that every skier at that advanced stage starts somewhere. Before the tricks and jumps, there are the falls and the frustrations.

A friend of mine with a lifetime of organizational leadership experience reminds me that many true statements are counter-balanced by a seemingly contradictory message. These contrasting truths form a paradox. Therefore, we need to pay attention to the “Start Small” message, if we are to keep from getting badly hurt, or if we are reluctant to even try. Paradoxically, we must heed the “Go Big Or Go Home,” message, if we are to ever reach for the stars — let alone for our ski tips.

As 2021 continues to delight and disappoint us, we are invited to embrace this paradox that God has placed before us. Yes, there are some plans that must be put on hold, for now. But is it possible that we have convinced ourselves that something small is not worthy of our time and attention?

In The Parable of the Shrewd Manager, Jesus reminds his listeners to follow through on the small things: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:10-11 NIV)

Is there a person you need to disciple? Why wait?
Is there a retreat you need to plan? Why not get the dates on the calendar?
Is there a group that needs to be brought together? Why not begin grouping them?

Is there is a song that needs to be composed, a book that needs to be written, a podcast that needs to be produced, or a phone call that needs to be made? It’s time to get going.

Make a plan. Start small. But never lose the big hope.

Keep reaching for the stars.

By Rev. Pete Mueller
Mission Strategist, Area C