Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Craig Gross’ new book Go Small: Because God Doesn’t Care About Your Status, Size, or Success (Thomas Nelson, 2014).
Our culture constantly pressures you to do something big for the world to get noticed and feel important. So as a Christian who longs to serve God, it’s tempting to think that if you could just do something really big for him, your life would be significant.
Maybe you’ve been trying in vain to do that big thing you hope to do, or maybe you’ve been able to do something big, but it doesn’t feel like enough.
Big, extraordinary moments are much rarer in life than small, ordinary ones. Trying to go big all the time will only bring stress and frustration into your life. God offers you a better way: going small. It’s in the small moments of life – the ordinary times – where God does his greatest work.
Here’s how you can make a big impact in God’s kingdom by focusing on small things:
Define what’s truly extraordinary. Rather than wasting time and energy pressuring yourself to pursue big accomplishments that seem extraordinary to the world, let God be the one who defines what’s really extraordinary in your life. Keep in mind that Jesus spent most of his time on Earth investing in just a small group of people (his 12 disciples) during life’s ordinary moments. Don’t worry about trying to complete an arbitrary checklist of what you think you should do to get tangible results as you serve God. Instead, just focus on living honestly and faithfully day to day, showing people who know you that Jesus is constantly redeeming and renewing your life. Simply living with integrity in the small, ordinary moments of life – from faithfully doing household chores to being kind to the people you talk with every day – is hugely significant to God.
Be the person God created you to be. Stop comparing your own accomplishments to other people’s accomplishments and start focusing just on what God has in mind for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you discover your unique role in creation, then grow into that role – regardless of how small it may seem to be to other people. Even when you don’t get much recognition from others, God always notices and appreciates you. If you step fully into whatever role God has called you to, your efforts – however ordinary – will be tremendously important from an eternal perspective.
Follow God’s rules of success. Trying to come up with your own rules for being successful won’t lead you anywhere reliable. So forget about following formulas designed to try to convince God to bless you with big success – from praying certain prayers to performing certain types of service. God alone makes the rules, and his rule of success is simply being willing to say “yes” to whatever he calls you to do, whenever he calls you to do it. Expect the unexpected from God, and be open for whatever assignments he has to give you.
Break free of cultural pressure to have others notice you. Resist cultural pressure to impress other people in order to validate your own worth. You’re valuable simply because you’re one of God’s children, regardless of how many Twitter followers, Facebook friends, or YouTube views you happen to have. Choose to do whatever you do simply to please God and because you enjoy it; not to impress other people. Keep in mind that Jesus always notices you even when other people don’t, and from His perspective, every moment of your life matters.
Shift your main focus from doing to being. Realize that you can’t do anything to earn God’s love – he already accepts you completely and loves you unconditionally. Your life has great value just because you’re you. While God will sometimes give you big assignments to do, he is most concerned with who you are rather than what you do. Your main service to God is growing to become the kind of person he wants you to become – someone with the character traits that Jesus Christ modeled on Earth – during the small, ordinary moments of life.
Slow down. Instead of rushing through each day with a preplanned itinerary, build some margins of free time into your schedule so you’ll be more likely to notice how God is at work in the small details of your life. Enjoy the wonder of life’s ordinary moments – from a walking beneath a towering tree to laughing at a baby’s facial expressions – and welcome surprises from God along the way.
Give every part of your day, every day, to God. Make a daily practice of intentionally dedicating everything you say and do to God. Then, as you go through the many small moments of your day, remind yourself that the Holy Spirit is present with you – available to empower you to live faithfully in every situation.
Become humble. Jesus was humble – even though he was God incarnate – and he calls each of his followers to be humble, too. Develop humility by living in community with people who know your faults yet love you anyway, serving others however God leads you to do so, and embracing the suffering that comes into your life so you can learn from it. Keep in mind that God doesn’t need your service, but he delights in seeing you grow as a person through the process of serving him.
Invite God to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary through prayer. When you pray, you welcome God to work in whatever situations you’re praying about, and he will change them for the better in the process. Pray not only for yourself, but also for other people: family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and even people you don’t know personally but have read or heard about on the news. Don’t just talk to God; spend time in prayer listening to his messages to you, as well.
Decrease yourself, so God can increase in your life. Reduce the amount of focus you’ve been putting on your own plans to make room for discerning and responding to God’s plans for you. Rather than basing your faith on your own sense of self-importance, base it on God, trusting him to work through you however he wants to work.
Adapted from Go Small: Because God Doesn’t Care About Your Status, Size, or Success, copyright 2014 by Craig Gross. Published by Nelson Books, a division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tn., www.thomasnelson.com.
Craig Gross is an author, speaker, pastor, and revolutionary. He shot to prominence in 2002 when he founded the website www.XXXchurch.com. Craig is the author of nine books. He currently resides in Los Angeles, California with his wife, Jeanette, and their two children, Nolan and Elise.
Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood's golden age. She produced a site about angels and miracles for About.com. Follow her on Twitter @WhitneyHopler.
Publication date: September 16, 2014