Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Small-yet-Significant Versus Small-and-Unimportant

6 Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
7 And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls. (Alma 37:6-7)
Something I am puzzling on right now is the following question:

When we are confronted by the tasks of minutiae, how do we know the difference between the little things that will bring great things to pass and the little unimportant things that fritter away our time?

Maybe this scripture partially helps:
Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great. (D&C 64: 33)
Maybe the little things that give service, that encourage, that lift, that inspire, that train, are the important things. I’d like to think this blog is one of them.

I guess the reason why I ask is that I just spent the day doing what felt like minutiae. I’ve been
  • working on forming a year’s schedule for my cub scout Bear den,
  • working on setting up scout field trips to a museum and to the library to look at back issues of newspapers,
  • working on setting up visiting teaching appointments,
  • calling a scooter shop to find out what kind of belt our broken scooter takes,
  • calling to find out where to go for an upcoming church meeting for prison ministry volunteers,
  • putting together a cover letter and a resume for a tech writing job opportunity,
  • talking to my assistant den leader about a field trip idea to visit a planetarium,
  • checking my email,
  • looking for Youtube videos to enhance various den meetings,
  • looking up library book titles to use for various den meetings,
  • getting back to a teacher about an independent research class we want to set up about Mormon literature,
  • talking to my boss about an upcoming interview for a graduate student writing tutor,
  • etcetera, etcetera, etcetera..

It felt like it was little tiny stuff, because it was one thing after another and I felt like I was just jumping around so fast and switching from thing to thing to thing in the most impulsive way and not getting anything done. But now that I look the above list, I did get a lot done. It just didn’t feel like it. And it felt like it was insignificant tiny stuff, yet as I examine what I did, I see that these things were all related to my church calling, my employment, my education, or my transportation--all pretty important issues.

Does anyone else have any thoughts on this? How do you keep the insignificant from crowding out the significant? How do you tell the difference? Do you ever feel like you’ve gotten nothing done and then find you’ve done more than you thought? How do you keep from denigrating the small-yet-significant duties?