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In the epic movie Braveheart, while still a boy, William Wallace stood by his father’s grave; the little girl, Murrin, gave him a thistle. Years later, when Wallace returned (all grown up into Mel Gibson) he began their courtship by giving her back the thistle pressed flat in a book. Boy, did he make an impression! She knew immediately what kind of a man he had grown into. A man who would guard such a small thing, simply because it came from her, could certainly be trusted with something of real value – her love.
Unfortunately, in their case, things didn’t work out so great and he had to kill half of England, but that’s not the point. The point is that he was faithful in a little thing and was rewarded with something much greater.
There’s a lot to be said for the small things. Jesus spoke a parable about being trusted with small things.
His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” (Matthew 25:21 NKJV)
Learning to trust others with the small things is harder to do than one might imagine. Leaders often want innovations from their team leaders. When the innovation is slightly different from what was expected, the leader should resist the tendency to focus on what isn’t good, but instead encourage what is good. People respond better to encouragement than criticism.
Most of a fulfilling marriage is made up of the small things: daily courtesies, quick apologies, spontaneous affection, sacrifices of time and personal preferences, routine conversations over meals or before bed, and ignoring idiosyncrasies and annoying habits. Many couples can weather the big stuff, but few enjoy the quality only the small stuff allows.
The same is true of any well-driven organization. We must pay attention to the small things like common courtesies, encouraging work well done, and taking the time to explain what is expected. Attention to small things pays off with great rewards, especially when the organization must weather the big storms. The little things are what build trust among people. Once the trust bridge is built, the storms cannot damage communications, relationships, and productivity as much as they would if the trust were not in place.