The Little/Big Principle

Luke 16:10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”

I heard this verse in a lecture by Dr. Bobby Clinton in a leadership class in grad school more than a decade ago. He called it the “Little/Big” principle. The concept, or course, is that integrity and faithfulness are full-time qualities. If you show class and discipline in life’s little choices, you can expect to do the same when you’re faced with the big ones.

And vice versa. If you cut corners in practice, it will come back to haunt you in the games.

I spent hours in the summer before eighth grade practicing basketball. I did dribbling drills, layups, jump shots and free throws. Hundreds of free throws. But when you’re thirteen and you imagine hitting the game-winning shot, you’re usually draining a three-point shot at the buzzer. You’re not hitting consecutive free throws in the middle of the third quarter. Free throws aren’t dramatic or sexy. That said, individuals and teams with higher free throw shooting percentages than their opponents win more games. It’s the “little/big” principle at work.

It’s true in academics too. You can’t expect to skip class or assignments or study sessions, then power cram for exams and ace the class. But if you are faithful to do the reading, show up for class, take notes and join a study group, your chances of academic success increase.

I’m often tempted to think the details don’t matter. That by talent, sheer force of will, raw ambition and the perfect set of circumstances you can be successful at anything. But it’s not true. Faithfulness, discipline and perseverance still win the day. If you do the small things well, you can execute the great things when you have the opportunity to do so.

Craig Custance