I have always wanted to do great things.
Yet, since childhood, my two favorite saints have ones who preached doing small things: St. Therese of Lisieux and Mother Teresa (who wasn’t a saint when I was a child but was a hero of mine). Therese is known for her “Little Way,” a practice that imbues great love into small acts. Mother Teresa (who chose her name in honor of St. Therese) is known to have said, “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”
I have always wanted to do great things – to write The Great American Novel, to impact thousands, millions of people. But that desire to do great things doesn’t come from a desire to share God’s love. It comes from pride.
Mother Teresa changed the world, but she didn’t set out to change the world. She set out to care for the poorest of the poor, and throughout her ministry, her focus was individual – person by person. “Do not underestimate our practical means—the work for the poor; no matter how small or humble—that make our life something beautiful for God,” she wrote. Like her namesake, Mother Teresa knew that what was important wasn’t how big an action was – what was important was how much love you put into it.
My favorite saints give me pause. I struggle to be mindful, to consider each moment and what its purpose is. I do not often think about how much love I put into my daily activities, but whether it’s writing a blog post here or collaborating with a co-worker in my “day job,” I can demonstrate my love for others and, above all, for Jesus through my work. Whether that work is successful by any typical marketing metric will be besides the point.
“We have only today,” Mother Teresa said. “Let us begin.”