“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” (Zechariah 4:6). Often we think to be noticed or even make progress, we have to do big things in huge ways with enormous amounts of effort. Yet in this verse, God is applauding and extolling the people for a small beginning step in a mighty long project and process, namely the building of the temple. All that had been done was measure and draw out the footprint of the temple. No masonry work had started, no foundations, no skilled-laborers, and long hours of back-breaking work, just the blueprints, and layout, that is it!
You see, you can not have a completed project if you do not begin. Without starting, there will never be a finish! It is apparently a part of our nature to want to accomplish big things. To get moving, make a difference, or accomplish something, we believe we have to have overwhelmingly large plans and dreams.
One problem with big dreams and plans is that they tend to overwhelm us as we realize the gap between where we want to be and where we are at present. What is the answer to the paralysis that seems to keep us from moving forward? Break it down into small steps and actions that, if done day by day consistently, over time will lead to significant results.
Small actions done over time have a compound effect. You have been following this pattern most of your life. Brushing your teeth is a small thing, yet it can yield extensive results in dental hygiene. Saving a little each month, $5 or $10 or $25 with both time and compound interest, will result in quite a large sum given enough time.
Consistent incremental action will result in outsized improvement and productivity given enough time. Persistence will win over whatever advantages you may feel you are lacking. A constant and persistent effort will outlast the most naturally gifted each and every time. Surely you remember the tortoise and the hare? The rabbit started with great energy and enthusiasm. The tortoise was slow and steady. Many lessons can be relearned from this tale. Still, one takeaway would be that it is better to have little consistent progress than to take large leaps only to stumble backward.
When most of us become convinced that we need to change our lives, we are usually so excited and attempt to make significant changes immediately. This usually lasts for three to four days, and then we give up and embrace the status quo. It is not just that small actions are more comfortable to incorporate into your life. When you add the levers of time and consistency, there is the power to make a profound difference. Stacking the same little action one upon another will make a difference. The difference is unmistakable.
There is a biblical principle that if we are faithful in little things, we will be given larger things to be faithful with as well. Some folks described how faithful they are going to be someday. I will donate when I have more money. I will volunteer when I have more time. I will do this when I am in a better position. You cannot live suspended between reality and some presumed better day out there in the future. Today is all any of us have; therefore, let us do what we can with what we have where we are today!
Is there a change you want to make? A new habit you would like to develop? Start small and stay consistent, and you just might be surprised at where that leads you. Why not give it a try?