A goal reminder posted near the checkout register of a national retail chain store promotes a program called “Strive for 5”. Each checkout clerk is to strive to place at least 5 purchased items in each bag. The clerk should try to never send out a bag with 3 items or less. She should also try to never bag containers with a ready-made handle, or to bag bulky items.
The program is designed to encourage each employee to help the company save money by decreasing the number of plastic bags given to customers. Each bag probably does not cost the company over a penny, if that much. Saving one bag per customer may not seem like much to the clerk working at one of the smaller community stores. But when one considers the fact that this company operates over 13,000 stores in 44 of the 50 United States, if every clerk in every store saved one plastic sack per customer, the benefits for the company would amount to a hefty chunk of change.
It is reported that while touring one of his plants, John D. Rockefeller, the founder of the Standard Oil Company, saw a man operating a machine that soldered the tops onto 5 gallon containers of kerosene. He asked the man how many drops of solder the machine applied, and the answer was 40 drops per can. Rockefeller told the man to try 38 drops, but the buckets leaked. However, when 39 drops were applied, none of the buckets leaked. According to Rockefeller, using one less drop of solder per can saved the company $2,500 the first year in the early 1870’s. As the company continued to grow, that omitted drop saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Small things can often make major differences in our own lives, as well as in the lives of others. We often desire to help others who are in need, but we can’t think of anything to do for them which we believe will make a significant impact upon them. We can think of several small things (a card, a call, a meal, an offer to babysit for a few minutes), but we deem these as being too insignificant. We are looking for that one big, unique, beneficent deed that will change their lives forever.
Sometimes, in our own lives, we are searching for that one major decision which will prove to be the turning point in our happiness and destiny; the point at which we cease to sink deeper into the depths of despair, and we begin to rise to the mountaintops of joy. Yet, we can’t find that one major issue which will prove to be the pivot point. Sure, there are a lot of small problems which we can resolve to improve, but these seem to be merely inconveniences. In our minds, improving them would not make a major difference in our circumstances or outlook.
But we would be wrong on both counts.
Just as the smallest efforts made by employees can produce significant numbers in a company’s bottom line, so the smallest benevolent act can often be just what is needed at the moment in the life of another.
Just as the smallest change in procedures can benefit a major company’s fiscal health, so, often, the smallest changes in our own lifestyle can prove beneficial to our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
A cup of cold water. A warm winter coat. An encouraging word. A given up seat. An offer to hold a baby. All of these can make a major difference in everyone’s lives.
“And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42) ESV
“9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:9-21) NIV
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