Back in Little Rock, I had a dear friend named Harry. Harry was an ‘older’ student ministry volunteer. He stood 6’5″, would hate to guess what he weighed, had salt and pepper hair with a goatee straight out of the ’80’s, and was about easy going as you can imagine.
He wasn’t always that way – but that’s his story and if you ever get to meet him, ask him about it. He’ll share it with you because that’s just the kind of guy he is.
At the time, I was a young student pastor as well as a young father. My favorite middle daughter – Camber – was still going through her terrible twos at age 3 and 4. She was as cute as she could be but you couldn’t leave her alone for a second.
She one day found a box of sharpies at the church and decided that the lobby needed a new color on the walls. She smiled with great pride as she showed our worship pastor her new creation.
She discovered that fire ants do in fact mind if you redecorate their home without their permission.
She helped a friend out by pulling off the wallpaper in her room. All of it.
She counted the exact number of squares on a roll of toilet paper.
She loved swimming in the koi pond of a friend because she wanted to pet the fishes. 5 minutes before we were to leave for church.
As a young dad trying to understand what exactly God had gotten me into raising two daughters, Harry gave me some unsolicited advise. My hunch is he observed a guy with great intentions starting to ‘over-parent’ a bit and become more concerned about what other people thought as opposed to just shepherding this precious, little, girl’s heart.
“Don’t make something a big deal until it is a big deal.”
Other variations of this principle?
Give people a chance to change.
Err on the side of grace.
Don’t get worked up over something that hasn’t happen, may not happen, and more than likely won’t happen.
Allow people room and space to surprise you.
Before you make it a big deal, make sure it IS a big deal.
It’s probably the single most important advice I’ve ever gotten.
Walls got painted. She got to experience a few ant bites but survived just fine. She went to church with wet pants. She helped her friend paint her room a different color. She rolled back up the toilet paper.
Harry’s advice has helped others around me as I’ve repeated it often. To dads and moms, young leaders and old veterans as well.
Let’s not make something a big deal until we are sure it is a big deal.
I’m not sure why Harry popped in my head today…but where ever he is, I hope he’s still passing on this mantra.