Do Not Despise Small Beginnings

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This world isn’t really one for small beginnings. Publishers want new books to skyrocket up bestseller lists in the first few weeks, banks want to see businesses turning a profit immediately, and the music industry wants a ready-made idol, one with adoring fans from coast to coast.

And they want it all today.

So do we. We want to throw everything together without mixing, without letting the flavors converge. We want to toss our effort in the microwave. One minute. Start. Ding! Finished.

That’s not reality. Do not despise small beginnings, slow starts, unheralded openings. Do not let your strong desire to be known quench the tiny flame before it can gather heat.

* * * * *

We showed up for the first day of soccer practice, and our college coach told us not to worry about bringing soccer balls. Just wear your running shoes. Meet him at the track.

We arrived, and the goal on that first day before we even had our first practice was to run a five-minute mile. Four laps around the track, each lap in 1:15.

“Start steady,” our coach said. “Don’t wear yourself out in the beginning. Finish strong.”

But during my freshman and sophomore year, I disregarded his advice. I sprinted out of the blocks, trying to get ahead while I had strength, trying to grab a few extra seconds in the beginning. I was looking for that quick start, and it always hurt me in the end. By the third and fourth lap, I was spent.

My junior year I decided to listen. I started off at an easier pace. My first lap was 1:20. My second lap was 1:20. I was ten seconds behind the pace, way behind everyone who had sprinted away from the starting line, but I had a strength in my legs I didn’t have the previous years. I charged forward in the third lap, and I finished strong in the fourth, passing almost everyone. I ran that mile in 4:52.

* * * * *

There is something to be said for an even start. There is something to be said for not wearing yourself out on the first day.

Rest in the small beginning. Find your pace in a steady start. There will come a time to push ahead.

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” Zechariah 4:10

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5 Replies to “Do Not Despise Small Beginnings”

  1. Thanks for the reminder Shawn! Small beginnings are often the best part of the journey…and while everyone else is pushing, rushing, and leaning into the big, they miss the teeny details like the lazily fluttering butterfly and the small tree leaves, gradually starting their journey from vivid green to blazing orange…

  2. I realized the other day I’d completely forgotten my OneWord for 2015. Looking back in a journal I found it – small. No wonder it got lost! Peace to you and yours, Shawn.

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