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Think Small, Act Small

Wisdom from Herb Kelleher: thinking small leads to big things.


Wisdom from Herb Kelleher

Late last week I was listening to an interview with the legendary Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines fame. The recently deceased Kelleher was sharing about a letter that he sent to the employees of Southwest Airlines discussing his concerns for the company's next ten years. His biggest concern revolved around the company itself, and the temptation to become complacent. He then made a statement that was profound in its simplicity:

Think small and act small and we'll get bigger.
Think big and act big... and we'll get smaller.

That line made me pull my truck over so that I could stew on it.

As I work with churches I am constantly struck by how churches that are experiencing significant growth have a certain scrappiness to them. Regardless of the church's size, they refuse to accept that they have "arrived" and embrace the perks that come with being an established church. These churches tend to have relatively smaller staffs, tighter budgets, and fewer programs than a typical church (relative to churches of the same size), but their impact is exponentially larger.

Several years ago I was helping a church develop their strategic plan for the next season of ministry and I asked them about their mission field. This was a small church, one that had recently been planted, with an average attendance of less than one hundred. They began to describe themselves as a regional church, one who attempted to reach people within a thirty minute drive of the area in which they were planted. It was an ambitious goal, especially considering that this radius included several different neighborhoods, each with a unique culture.

As the conversation progressed, the team began to realize that this regional approach might be holding the church back. They realized that being a regional church sounded good, but by pursuing this, they were thinking bigger than they really were... and it hurt their ability to impact the neighborhood that they were located in. Coming away from that conversation, the church became laser focused on serving their immediate neighborhood well and began to see significant growth.

Think small, act small, and you will grow.

Focus on the unique calling that God has given you, do the small things well, and you will have significant Kingdom impact.




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Matt Steen

Matt Steen

Matt has served the local church for over two decades as a youth pastor, church planter, and executive pastor. Originally from Baltimore, Matt currently lives in Orlando, with his wife Theresa, and has a B.S. in Youth Ministry from Nyack College and an M.Div. and MBA from Baylor University. Certified as an Urban Church Planter Coach by Redeemer City to City and as a StratOp facilitator by the Paterson Center, Matt has made a career of helping churches thrive through intentionality, clarity, and creating healthy cultures. He is convinced that a healthy church is led by a healthy team with great chemistry, and loves partnering with Chemistry’s churches to do great things for the Kingdom.

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