The Big Thing Myth

I’m not sure why, but humanity seeks after the “Big Thing.” As far back as the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11) people have sought to create something to prove their value, confirm their purpose for being, or leave a legacy after they have died. Sometimes these edifices are physical structures, the pyramids of Egypt, the soaring skyscrapers of New York, the largest memorial at the cemetery.  Often these edifices are less tangible; the size and reach of a business, the number of members in a group, the influence exerted on people. Christians are not immune, as demonstrated by the importance placed on the size of our buildings and of our congregations. Who are those seen as leaders? Who are the sought-out voices? Almost exclusively, those with the largest edifices.

In the Gospels, Jesus doesn’t seem concerned about the size of His crowd. Several times He did or said things which would dim His popularity only to have it flame up again. (John 4, 6:52-66, Matthew 8) In the end, however, Jesus was alone. The crowd abandoned Him, the powerful crucified Him, a disciple betrayed Him, and the rest hid in fear. At that moment on the cross, Jesus didn’t leave behind any writings of His own or any buildings or monuments or power structures. And yet Jesus, through His death and resurrection, has changed more lives than we can count.

In my mind, using the “Big Thing” as a measure of value, God’s blessing, power, purpose, and influence is a mistake. Having the largest ministry isn’t the hallmark of any of those things. That’s applying the world’s logic of the “Top Dog” and “King of the mountain” to the upside-down Kingdom of God.  Let me also add that some ministries will be large and some small. The point is that size is not an indicator of rightness, blessing, anointing, wisdom, or power. A small group leader in some unheard-of backwoods is just as plugged into Jesus as any of the famous preachers of the past or present. That’s why the “big thing” is a myth.

Searching for that one “big thing” God wants us to do is a waste of time and effort. We all want our lives to have purpose and meaning. For God to use us in some fantastic way or do something marvelous for us. The problem is that the more we search for it, the more we miss the everyday opportunities in front of us to express God’s love.

For years I’ve searched and worried about the “big thing” God wanted me to do. Afraid that I had missed it or that I might miss it. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that if God wants me somewhere, He’ll make sure I get there. All I need to worry about is today and taking the small steps of faith He is leading me to. God loves me and is just as pleased if this ministry stays the same or grows to a million subscribers.  

 In truth, we don’t need another big name to impact the world for Christ. We need every believer in Christ to take those small steps of faith that God is leading them to every day. Each one functioning as God has empowered and shaped them. Some will speak, some will write, some will listen, some will care, same will share, some will give, some will sacrifice, some will pray, some may die – but all will love. Imagine the impact if each believer saw their new life in Christ as a valuable and vital ministry no matter the size.

Several times a month, someone will email asking for support, prayer, or advice on how to start a big impactful ministry. They don’t use those words, but that’s the meaning. Often there’s a strain of “I want to do big things but don’t have the stuff to do them.” My advice is generally the same – do what you can with what you have right now. That’s my advice for you as well, whether you think you have a heart for ministry or not, do what you can with what you have right now. God invites us all to serve others in some way, that’s all ministry really is, a way to serve and give to others what God has given us – and that is a big thing.

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Dale Heinold

Dale lives in central Illinois with Betty, his wife of nearly 40 years. He has a theology degree from Oral Roberts University. Dale works full time as an IT director and business teacher for a local school district. He sees his writing as a ministry and hopes that you were blessed, challenged, and inspired by this article and
Dale Heinold
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