The little things that matter

A Christian Science perspective: Little things can change the world.

“Little things mean a lot,” Kitty Kallen sang in her 1954 hit recording.

In Shakespeare’s play “King Richard the Third,” the king’s horse loses a shoe in battle and throws him to the ground. Facing the enemy on foot, the king cries: “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” For want of a shoe, a kingdom falls. Little things mean a lot.

The Bible tells how Jesus accepted a boy’s lunch of fish and bread and turned a meager meal into a feast for 5,000 (see John 6:5-13).

Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, stressed the importance of minding little things: “[O]fttimes small beginnings have large endings.

"Seeing that we have to attain to the ministry of righteousness in all things, we must not overlook small things in goodness or in badness, for ‘trifles make perfection’… ” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 123).

The Bible story of Ruth is a good example of this “acorn” analogy, showing how a little kindness grew to produce a beloved king and the ancestry of Jesus. Little things here changed the world.

Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, were widows left with no means of support. Rather than return to the home of her parents, Ruth, in selfless kindness, stayed with Naomi. She said, “For whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God” (Ruth 1:16).

To put food on the table, Ruth gleaned grain in nearby barley fields, finding favor with the wealthy landowner, Boaz, who was smitten by her kindness to her destitute mother-in-law. He told his reapers to leave some grain for her to glean. In time, Boaz took Ruth as his wife and they had a son, Obed, the father of Jesse, who was the father of David (see Ruth 4:22). As a result of a string of small kindnesses, Ruth became the great-grandmother of the beloved King David, establishing the lineage that led to Joseph, who became the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Little things.

“A dewdrop reflects the sun,” Mrs. Eddy notes in “Pulpit and Press,” another of her books. “Each of Christ’s little ones reflects the infinite One, and therefore is the seer’s declaration true, that ‘one on God’s side is a majority’ ” (p. 4).

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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