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A True Test of Character: Being Faithful in the Little Things

By Dennis Rainey

I love great stories of leaders who are effective, inspecting what they expect, and then hold their people to what was asked of them.

Like Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, who regularly arrived at work before 6 a.m. One morning he found a report on his desk from his chief financial officer. Immediately Sam jotted down a curt note at the top of the report that was designed to get his CFO’s attention and placed it on his desk:

Joe, come see me immediately!


As you might imagine Joe sheepishly read the note and headed for Sam’s office.

Joe, a top performer on the Walmart leadership team, was clueless about why Sam had called him to his office. Sam got right to the point. “Joe, why did you leave the pennies off the financial report?

Joe instantly responded, “Sir, I was just doing my job, trying to simplify a report that had too many numbers, so I took the pennies out of the report.”

Sam responded and undoubtedly made his point with some degree of intensity: “Joe, Walmart is all about the pennies … our profits are about the pennies … our shareholders count on us saving pennies … it’s what makes us competitive in the marketplace.”

Sam continued, “Now I want you to rerun the numbers and include the pennies!” Then Sam paused to make his point, “If you ever do that again, you are FIRED.”

I doubt that Joe ever forgot that encounter. He learned from Sam Walton that he needed to be faithful in the little things.

Jesus said it this way: “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much” (Luke 16:10).

Are you a faithful in little things as you lead your home? Do you do what you promised your wife you’d do? How about with the kids?

I knew that if I secured a “yes” from my dad to play catch with me in the front yard, it was a done deal. My dad was a man of his word, even to an 8-year-old boy! I don’t ever recall him backing away from a promise.

How about at work? Do you do just enough to get by or do you do “exceedingly, abundantly” (Ephesians 3:20) all that was asked of you?

How about in service of your community?

A series of questions may be appropriate:

· Are you trusted by your friends?

· Do you follow through on what you promise to others? Or put another way, “Do you do what you say you are going to do with excellence”

· Are you reliable?

· Can others count on you?

· Do you want to know how to be an original in a culture of copycats?

· Do you want to be countercultural and cut a fresh swath … a part of a vanishing breed in today’s generation?

If so, then set your sights on becoming a person who is faithful—a person who follows through. One whom others can count on whether things are rough or smooth. A person whose word is good on the little stuff as well as the mammoth, gargantuan tasks.