Few things turn our crank faster than being around big-minded, enthusiastic, broad-shouldered visionaries. They are positive, on the move, excited about exploring new vistas, inspired, and inspiring. While others are preoccupied with tiny tasks and nit-picking squabbles, these people see opportunity in every difficulty and helpful lessons in every setback.
Few things turn us off quicker than being around small-minded, pessimistic, narrow-world, tedious frowners. Engrossed in the minutiae of what won't work and remembering a half-dozen worst-case scenarios, they can throw more cold water on a creative idea than a team of firefighters snuffing out a candle.
It's not caution we resent. Caution is necessary and wise. Caution keeps the visionary realistic. No, it's the tiny-focused, squint-eyed, tight-lipped, stingy soul that drives us batty. The best word is petty . . . as in petty cash, petty larceny, petty minded.
"Pettiness," writes George Will, "is the tendency of people without large purposes."
Petty people are worse than stubborn; they are negative and rigidly inflexible. While we work overtime to come up with some soaring idea, they've already thought up eight reasons it won't fly.
Whatever or wherever or whoever manifests pettiness isn't my concern, however. Stopping its effect on us is. Why? Because the church seems to be the breeding ground for this legalistic disease.
Pettiness takes a terrible toll. It kills our joy!
I have been studying the lives of several of the great visionaries of the church. They were extremely different, yet they all have one common denominator: Not one was petty. I mean not one.
Let me remind you of Paul's reaction to those who "sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus." He declares, "We did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour" (Gal. 2:5). Nor should we.
Count on this: You will encounter petty types. So when you do, shrug it off and just keep on honoring God as you pursue those large purposes.
"Pettiness is the tendency of people without large purposes" (George Will).