Sunday, January 8, 2012

Small Things: Jesus' Unlikely Game Plan

Margot Starbuck

Here’s something convenient: if I’ve got to sell everything I own in order to influence a world in need, or if I must move my family to Washington DC to fervently lobby U.S. lawmakers, or if I have to relocate to Calcutta to really impact the world, then…I’m sort of off the hook. Right? (Did I mention my kids are in awesome schools right now?)

If I costume Mother Theresa or Harriet Tubman or Lynn Hybels as world-influencing superheros, the kind who are clearly out of my league, then I’m not really obliged to follow in their gargantuan footsteps.

Don’t even get me started on SuperJesus.

I think Mother Theresa must have known how I’d try to worm out of my clear call to impact the world by loving my neighbor when she said, “You cannot do great things, only small things with great love.” Small things put me back on the hook.

Small things happen when my eyes are opened to the most unlikely folks in my circle of influence. It’s a small thing to enter into a relationship with the woman on my block who’s caring for an elderly parent with Alzheimers. It’s a small thing to show up at the basketball game of a kid on my block without family in the bleachers. It’s a very small thing to give a neighbor a ride to work when her car’s broken down. If Mother Theresa is right, which I fear she is, Jesus is calling me into small things.

Small things happen when I use the particular gifts that God has given me, to impact a world in need. For instance, my father-in-law is one of these disaster heroes. If he’s not doing demo in New Orleans you’ll find him building shelters in Haiti or installing wheelchair ramps in rocky Appalachia. And though it’s hard to explain, to him and others, why I keep going to El Salvador to look and listen, it makes so much more kingdom sense for me, as a communicator, to influence others through writing and speaking than to attempt to cobble together anything meant to resemble a dwelling.

This said, small things also happen when I do dare to leave my comfort zone. They happen when I try out my D+ Spanish in the neighborhood. They happen when I strike up a conversation with the guy down the block who frightens me a little bit. Small things happen when I say yes to caring for a desperate friend’s child, even though I’ve made it pretty clear to everyone I know that I’m not a kid person. Jesus is always calling me out of the comfort zone I enjoy so much.

Basically, small things happen when I grudgingly, crabbily say, “Yes” to Jesus’ invitation to love the world He loves. Word on the street is that this unlikely way is actually the very pattern of kingdom engagement: Shane Claiborne confirms, “God is preparing each of us for something really really small... and it's small things done with great love that move the world.”

This week: think small.

Margot Starbuck is the author of the recently released Small Things With Great Love: Adventures In Loving Your Neighbor. Connect with Margot on facebook or at


  1. This made me cry - thank you so much.

  2. Reminds me of offering a cup of water in His name. I think one day we'll be surprised to see that, in God's economy, the small things were the most significant.

    Thanks for the convicting thought, Margot. Just what I needed to jump-start my Monday! Blessings to you :)

  3. So much wisdom shared Margot. Thank you! Often it is a lot easier to do the big and heroic compassionate stuff because there's usually an audience saying "Good job."

    But no one pays much attention to the little things done in love....except God of course. And I guess that is Who we are supposed to be living for! Thank you.

  4. This is so why the Lord led me to turn around in 18 degree weather to pick up a stanger walking with his hands weighted down with grocery bags. He had a long walk, looked troubled, and I felt so strongly to stop. Before he left the car, he bent over and said, "May you be blessed for your faithfulness." A cup of water? A fish? A ride? Thank you for your article.

  5. Thank you so much I needed 2 hear this 2 put me on the straight n narrow. I was bogged now n now I have been set free 2 give 2 love 2 get involved n it starts small God bless u!!!!!!

  6. Love this. Thanks for the encouragement. I am sitting at my kitchen table looking out my front window at my neighborhood. So much ministry - so many to love right here!

  7. Praise God for using your blog to answer my prayer.