Don’t Despise Small Middles Or Endings, Either

When we only see small beginnings as a means to a big ending, we may miss a lot of good, faithful, God-filled work.

“Don’t despise small beginnings. That’s where all big things come from.”

I’ve heard that sentence, or some version of it, spoken quite often when I’m talking about the value of small churches. And I agree. All big accomplishments start with small beginnings. Or, to use another similar aphorism, “the smallest journey begins with a single step.”

But here’s an important distinction. The value of small beginnings isn’t just because they lead to big things, but because they start something.

While it’s important not to despise small beginnings, we shouldn’t despise small middles or endings either.

God’s Presence In Smaller Things

The original quote about not despising small beginnings comes from the Bible. It’s during the time of Nehemiah, when the exiles were coming back into Jerusalem following 70 years of Babylonian exile.

There was a concern that the temple work might not be completed because Zerubbabel was facing so much opposition. After the foundation had been laid the response, instead of rejoicing, was . . .

"But many of the older priests and Levites and family leaders sobbed out loud. They had seen the first temple. So when they saw the foundation of the second temple being laid, they sobbed. Others shouted with joy.” (Ezra 3:12)

The work was being done, but the progress was slow and small, causing the older saints to weep.

Done > Big

Shortly after this, an angel appeared to the prophet Zechariah, assuring him that this sadness was unnecessary. The work would be completed, the angel assured him, and even though the new temple wouldn’t be as big or as physically impressive as the previous glory of Solomon’s temple . . .

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 4:10)

This verse, in context, is not about bigness, it’s about faithfulness.

It’s not about how grand the final product will be, but about persistence through trial.

The promise isn’t about the size of the end result, but that it will be completed, and that God will be honored in it. The temple was always about the presence of God, not the size of the building.

Staying Faithful

Most of life’s pursuits don’t end up big. They start small, go small, and end small. And that’s okay.

Don’t despise small beginnings, small middles, or small endings.

Stay faithful.

The Lord is in all of it.

(Photo by Shelley Vaters)


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