Sweat the Details

A person with my personality does two things with details – obsess over them or pay no attention to them at all. This is typically the result of how important one considers a particular detail. My overall opinion is that if the big picture is good than it is all good.

Truth is some people get lost in the details. Some people get so consumed with how they want something done that it never really gets done. On the other side some of us can allow little things, that in the end don’t really matter slip by, and they can have a negative impact on someone.

This Sunday I preached a B- to C sermon. (We have to grade each other’s sermons in seminary so we actually learn how to grade sermons and unfortunately it is a skill we never lose.) The content in the sermon was good. The problem was that the content consumed more time than normal. It was hard to finish. So, I spent less time working on the “peripherals” – the illustrations, etc.

Well, I used a story that tied to an Old Testament law and then I said and applied the Old Testament law incorrectly. It is not a “big” deal but I was wrong. I am actually embarrassed by it because I know it better than that. The problem was that I had just not spent enough time thinking that part of the sermon through.

After the sermon a young man came by and corrected me on my use of the Old Testament law. (I have to admit I wanted to reply with a wise-crack, but I refrained.) My first thought was, I just preached this whole message that has good truth in it and that is what this young man is thinking about as he leaves. Later I thought about it some more and realized, it did matter.

That detail mattered. If one person was distracted from hearing truth because I said something untrue, it is not that person’s fault for being distracted by that. It is mine. I can’t let it consume me and worry about a mistake, but I know better than to get something incorrect from the Bible in a sermon.

The reality is that we have to sweat some details. The little things often do matter. They are not things we should obsess over. We should not get ulcers over the details, but often it is the way we handle the details that make the biggest impact.

He who is faithful with LITTLE will be given much.

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