….Said nobody, ever. Because we all know the actual saying is “Go Big!,” which reflects our culture’s belief that size is everything, and bigger is better.
Just pause to consider how what we say and do reflects that belief. We shop at Cotsco, where goods are sold in supersized multiples of 12. We buy more big cars – specifically, SUVs and trucks - than any other sized vehicle. We call it the “big leagues” when we’ve finally made it. We eat “Big Macs,” celebrate “big” promotions, work for “big” pay raises, and brag about “big” wins. We even augment *ahem* certain parts of our bodies to make them look bigger. “Big” is part of our cultural DNA.
“Big” is also the way we project our success - and at a deeper level, our worth. That’s why “going big” is often considered the measure of our strength, power, and position. It’s our way of telling the world how much we’re winning at life.
The problem is, we all know that pegging our self-worth to an outward expression of success may make us feel better in the near term, but has no effect on our self-worth in the long run. Because when we care that much about what others say or think about us, all it takes is one loss, one failure, or one diss to put us on an emotional roller coaster headed for crazy town.
Moreover, the whole notion of “big” as better runs counter to what God says about our value. The Bible says our value comes from our identity as His child. Whether you choose to believe it or not, you are unconditionally loved, utterly worthy, and fully
redeemed by an all-powerful, all-present, and all-knowing God. Read that again: you are unconditionally loved, utterly worthy, and fully redeemed by an all-powerful, all-present, and all-knowing God. The Creator of the Universe who knows everything you’ve done, thought, and said still loves you, and always will. Seriously, how much “bigger” does it get than that? You’ve already won!
Something else interesting happens when we fully embrace our identities as children of God. When we realize that it is God who gifts us with the ability to work, earn, and succeed, we recognize that promotion, favor, and finances - all the things we have that enable us to “go big” - are actually blessings from God. So when we take our own “works” out of the equation, that leaves no room for thinking of ourselves as the origin of anything “big.” If anything, this awareness should make us feel small (in a healthy, God-honoring, and realistic way), compared to the enormity of God, His enabling spirit, and His goodness.
The Apostle Paul (or “Saint Paul,” to my Catholic friends out there) personifies a healthy awareness of God’s big-ness, and his relative small-ness (neither of which are words, but stick with me please). Paul’s an amazing dude, and not just because he wrote 60% of the New Testament, or because he did a 180 after a life-changing encounter with Jesus. What’s truly awesome about Paul – and worth emulating - is that he happily embraced his own “small-ness.”
You see, Paul was a well-known religious leader who murdered Christians for fun before he had an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. In the blink of an eye, he went from being kind of a big deal in the church (in part, because he was a bona fide bully of Christians), to becoming the humblest, most loving servant of man and God.
To signify his full conversion, Jesus actually changed Paul’s name. When he was B.M.O.T.C. (Big Man on Temple Campus), his name was Saul, which means “significant one” or “sought after.” But after his face-to-face with Jesus, his name changed to Paul, which means “little.” Jesus wasn’t derogating Paul’s character, but rather bringing his name into alignment with the reality of who he (Paul) was, in relation to God. And from that moment on, Paul spent the rest of his life minimizing his “bigs” – his own accolades, career, comfort, safety, and well-being – to “go small.”
Which leads me to wonder … where in my life have I chosen to “go big,” where Jesus might prefer that I “go small”? More importantly, what is my motivation for wanting to “go big” in any area of my life?
I’ve got a lot of reflecting to do, and some serious revisions to make to my (new) New Year’s resolutions. But I’m grateful to have gained this perspective - early enough in January to make a difference in how I live this year - from Paul’s example of humility. And I am more fully convinced now, than ever before, that it’s the “small” things – our attitudes, understanding, love of God, and service to others - that are so much “bigger” in the grand scheme of both temporal and eternal realities.
I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:24)
Denise is a San Diego-based attorney and small business owner. Her career has spanned nearly two decades in legal, political, and entrepreneurial spheres. Previously, she lived and worked in Washington D.C. at the White House, US Department of Justice, and in the US Senate. She’s the proud daughter of a Chinese tiger mom, fiancé to Josh, and adopted mother of the most adorable golden retriever in the world: Jack. Follow along with her adventures @dggitsham!