Don’t Sweat the Small Things…
There is an old saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” This and other similar quotes have been used to convey a number of sentiments including not to stress over small things. It could also be of use for encouragement not to worry so much about small things that the important and bigger things are diminished or lost. Such concern over small possessions or perhaps even smaller matters can be disruptive of bigger causes and relationships, the sum of which make up what really matters.
In the scriptures we read this instruction of the Lord not to “covet that which is but the drop, and neglect the more weighty matters” (Doctrine and Covenants 117:8). What is a drop of water in a barrel? If moving a barrel of water to a more secure location will cause the loss of a few drops, is it not prudent to move that barrel, lose the drops, and save the whole for one’s survival?
When I was a young salesman an older gentleman of the same profession advised me to keep my eyes to the ground because there were lots of pennies that could be retrieved. Coming from a salesman, this really puzzled me, and I replied, “If I keep my eyes to the ground all the time, and never look up, I will not see and be able to harvest all of the dollars hanging from the trees.” I am not saying that the pennies do not matter, they really add up, but one cannot focus on the small things at the expense of bigger issues and greater possibilities. We must not “neglect the more weighty matters.”
“If I keep my eyes to the ground all the time, and never look up, I will not see and be able to harvest all of the dollars hanging from the trees.”
Attention to detail is very important, but again, not at the expense of that which is more important. I have spent hundreds of hours in my lifetime meeting in councils to discuss the mechanisms of caring for a congregation and providing for the needs of its members. While programs and activities have their place and importance, the best spent time was always in fulfilling the mission of the Church, accepting and extending the sacred invitation to “come unto Christ and be perfected in Him” (Moroni 10:32).
Of keeping our priorities straight, Elder Boyd K. Packer said, “Procedures and programs and policies and organization and budgets and buildings are important in their place. These we must do, but we must not leave the weightier matters undone” (April 1984). This should be well felt and applied in our ministries for Christ, and the same can be said in all aspects of life. We must not leave that which matters most undone, uncared for, or unheeded, because smaller things occupy our minds and time. To over-occupy oneself about a drop of water at the expense of the rest of the barrel, is both unproductive and unwise.
“Procedures and programs and policies and organization and budgets and buildings are important in their place. These we must do, but we must not leave the weightier matters undone”
Elder Boyd K. Packer
The health, well-being, and love in our families are of weightier importance than most things. Making a living is important and it must be done. We must work hard for their support, but being a part of a family is not to be neglected. It is not fully a family if we are not striving for togetherness. When we are home, it is more important that we dine together than what we eat. It is weightier that our home is full of laughter and joy than be in neat and tidy order at all times. I would rather occasionally step on a Lego with bare feet, than not to hear the laughter of children. Harmonious love and cooperation in our families and amongst those we love is more important than being right or having everything the way we like it best.
When I was a small boy I recall an occasion when angry at losing a game I took my ball and walked away. Winning was that important. Later I felt ashamed for ruining everyone’s fun, because I had to win. My focus on that small loss, my selfishness, created a much bigger loss for everyone involved.
Many years later I was at a church basketball game. We were there to focus on fellowshipping one with another and invite neighbors in the community to join us. When a misunderstanding between players, a young pastor and an invited guest, resulted in a near fist fight, I found myself once again taking the ball and walking off the court. This time I could see the bigger picture, and others were left to ponder why not to sweat the small things. After a brief cooling off period and evaluation of why we were playing, the game continued, our purposes were met, and fun and fellowship were had by all.
The small things are going to keep on coming, and it is hard not to sweat, but we need to keep our vision wide and long, to make sure we are not neglecting the weightier things in favor of trifling with things that just do not matter. When overly focused upon, a small thing can seem menacing and draw us away from truth and light, distracting us from our mission and course. With the help of our Savior, through His divine Spirit, we can overlook the small things and overcome that which would draw us away from His path. May we use His light to identify and attend to the weightier matters, for our benefit, and for the blessing of all whom we love. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.