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In Praise of Grunt Work
By Robert DardenA great storm mercilessly lashes a small island. The clouds pass, and a father and his son
walk down to the beach where the sea's surge has washed tens of thousands of starfish onto
the beach, all dying in the sun. The little boy frantically begins throwing them back into the
sea, and the man puts a gentle hand on the boy's heaving shoulders.
"Son, there are too many. You can't make any difference." The boy pauses to
consider a starfish in his hand. "It makes a difference to this one," he says. And
he tosses it back into the sea.
The unsinkable Titanic breaks apart and a thousand souls perish because of a six-foot gash.
The small bolts securing the massive steel plates are inferior material carelessly welded. On
impact with the iceberg, they sheer off.
The mighty Challenger, America's first shuttle disaster, hurled to the earth in flame because
of defects in its small rubber O-rings.
"For want of a nail the shoe is lost, for want of a shoe, the horse is lost, for want of a horse, a
rider is lost," George Herbert wrote.
When we think we're too good, too busy, too proud, too important, too valuable for the
small jobs, then it is the small job that will eventually cause our undoing.
Jesus didn't pastor a mega-church in California or head a mighty para-church organization
from Colorado Springs. He focused on children, lilies, sparrows, the wounded, the weak, the
lame. He heralded the woman giving the widow's mite, not the rich and powerful magistrate.
Mother Teresa once said, "We cannot do great things on this earth. We can only do small
things with great love." Jesus never ranged more than a few dozen miles from his humble
place of birth.
So what is grunt work? Nothing less than the business of heaven.
"For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have
the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually
members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that
is given to us, let us use them …. " Rom. 12:4-6a
By Robert Darden.