Thursday, March 03, 2011

Focus on the Small Hinges and the Big Doors Will Open Wide

“Never despise the small things in your life. Never spend so much time reaching for the high-impact acts of ministry that you neglect the minute details of service. The massive doors of God’s kingdom swing on tiny hinges of our faith and obedience. Focus on the hinges, and you’ll see the doors open wide.” –Chris Tiegreen.

First, an interesting tidbit about how I got this quote. I love Chris Tiegreen’s devotional books. I have been using them for the past few years in my quiet times. Often I will jot down a quote in the reading or something he says himself. I write it on a 3 x 5 card and put it in a little file.

Today, as I was rushing to find a car seat for my granddaughter, Sadie, before going to the gym together, I was also trying to feed our cat, Stormy. We were out of cat food (this cat eats like a large mountain lion!) so as I was looking in the garage for it, I saw the 3 x 5 card with this quote lying on the concrete garage floor.

What was I doing? I was kind of rushing but I was doing something small and ordinary (feeding the cat) so I could get to doing something else small and ordinary (go to the gym with my two granddaughters) and here was this quote on a tattered little card that reminded me that the very things I was involved in were significant.

I was choosing to invest in my granddaughter’s lives. It is a fleeting privilege to have six-year-old and three-year-old granddaughters who love to do something with their grandpa-especially if it ends up at Dairy Queen! Today when I picked them up I found out that they were both about to get a couple of little swats from Sky for their behavior. Grandpa to the rescue! Amazing grace bestowed by their dad this time.

Cindy and I are about mid-point in our “2-20” plan (this is a two year focus that we believe will impact the next twenty years and beyond). We travel to our fourth out of eight retreats shortly, as we invest these two years through involvement with the Transforming Center out of Wheaton, Illinois, as well as my masters program at Northwest University in social entrepreneurship.

We will be able to develop, God willing, through research and personal interaction with others, a ministry to those in leadership of nonprofits, churches and businesses. This endeavor will emphasize learning and practicing the ancient practices of spiritual formation that have been neglected in our noisy, fast-paced, high-tech world. We are calling it “Sound Leadership Partners” at this point. We are excited to see it begin to unfold as we continue to meet people in the community with whom this resonates.

We have needed to be intentional about this because we are clearly in a period of ending one thing (parenthood with kids in the home, my fathering ministry, Cindy’s lay counseling ministry) to beginning something else. These next two years are about discovering what that “something else” is and how Cindy and I can really operate as a team in the process. For years this has been my dream-to team up with Cindy in serving people.

Okay, back to the quote about small things, the little decisions to obey or trust. As we are about at the halfway mark in our program with The Transforming Center I really thought I would be much further along in learning these rhythms and disciplines. Old habits die slowly. In a lot of ways I am “a contemplative dropout!” But what I am learning is that the way to tackle changing life patterns is “little by little”--much as how God drove out Israel’s enemies when they came to the Promised Land. (Deuteronomy 7:22) He said He did it this way so that their gaining of new land would be SUSTAINABLE.

So, at the year mark of this process, though the changes have been small and slow, I can still be encouraged, and so can you if you relate to the slowness of my progress. When I drive I don’t fill the time with talk or music, I keep the radio off. When at the dog park with Griffey, I leave my ipod behind and am quiet and I listen to God in the quiet and beauty of Marymoor Park. When I open my Bible I don't just barge into the reading, I sit and wait and sense God's presence with me to speak to me and realize this is not an academic exercise.

These are small things but they are good things that are becoming rhythms I am practicing--not just reading about or thinking about doing something about them someday. These are the “hinges” that are swinging open doors for me in this season of life. Like that little card I picked up in the garage, seemingly small and insignificant, but in reality brim full of life-transforming, door-opening power!

Celebrating the Small Things,


Note: Do you have any stories of God’s Glory showing up in the ordinary? I would love to hear them and share them with a larger audience if you would like! Just email me at (

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the encouragement Jamie. I have been reading every month for about a year and I appreciate your thoughts and the spirit in which you share. God's blessings to you and your family.