Visioning the little things

I always feel a bit torn when it comes to discussions about an organization’s vision, be it a church, educational institution or business. Yes, clarity in direction and identity is important to achieving effectiveness, but the visioning process can create a sense of progress (i.e. lots of talk), without very much actual clarity or progress. Meetings and words create the sense that we are in fact doing something before anything has in fact changed or been done. In the context of Christianity, I think this is a real danger, what I call the “illusion of faithfulness.”

Having just been involved in a visioning process with colleagues, one in which we were aware of the danger of mere talk, I’ve been trying to focus on the value of simplicity, particular when it comes to visioning Christian engagement with world. In The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne offers a helpful corrective, acknowledging the value of the little things in life and faith:

“Mother Teresa offers us that brilliant glimpse of hope that lies in little things: ‘We can do not great things, only small things with great love. It is not how much you do but how much love you put into doing it.’ Above our front door, we have hung a sign that says, ‘Today…small things with great love (or don’t open the door).’

It is easy to fall in love with the great things, whether we are revolutionaries or church-growth tacticians. But we must never simply fall in love with our vision or our five-year plan. We must never fall in love with ‘the revolution’ or ‘the movement.’ We can easily become so driven by our vision for church growth, community, or social justice that we forget the little things, like caring for those around us. An older charismatic woman told me, ‘If the devil can’t steal your soul, he’ll just keep you busy doing meaningless church work.’”

As Christians, we place our hope in a person (Jesus) not just inspiring words. Thus, in the most personal way, I hope to begin visioning the little things, a place to find love and meaning moment to moment, person to person.


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