Chaplain’s thoughts … ‘Think small’

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We live in a world that is fascinated by big dreams, big goals and big achievements. I recall as a young ROTC cadet being encouraged by a mentor to “Think big … No … BIGGER!” There was an underlying message in that encouragement that it’s big accomplishments that count the most.

Fast forward 20-plus years and I still think there’s something to be said for thinking big, or outside the box. Big thinking, vision and a desire to see new opportunity compels people toward significant accomplishments. One of my favorite technological big thinkers is Elon Musk. Whether it be Tesla, Hyperloop, or Space X, Musk thinks BIG. His big thinking has inspired industries and people to do more than they thought possible in the world of transportation.

Even so, it seems to me that in thinking big we can forget about the little daily blessings and opportunities that occur all around us. How often do we “think big” and fail to see the smaller things in life that bring joy?

One of my favorite spiritual writers, Martin Luther, once stated that uncomfortable things are uncomfortable because there are so many good things that happen every day. Think about your day today. You woke up. That’s a good thing. You have shelter. That’s a good thing. You stepped outside to a world with vegetation, sunshine, blue skies and animals. All good! The danger of only thinking big all the time is that we can forget that there is much good in what we already experience.

Many of us are getting ready to prepare for the holiday season. As you prepare and take note of the grand and big themes associated with those holidays, don’t forget to appreciate the small blessings. If you’re a person of faith, how have you been blessed in daily life and not just in the overarching narratives of your faith tradition? Where can you find points of gratitude in the here and now?

There is much to be said for big thinking, but it’s wise to remember that there’s just as much to be said for the right now, smaller blessings. Indeed, you may often find that the small blessings and gifts are at least as important as big visions, big dreams and big goals. Don’t stop thinking big, but make sure you take time to think small.