A few weeks ago I preached on the topic of stewardship—managing the resources God has blessed us with.

I based the first message on Matthew 25:14-30, the Parable of the Bags of Gold (also known as the Parable of the Talents).

According to Jesus, those servants who faithfully managed their master’s resources were rewarded with greater responsibilities (vs. 21). This encourages me to be faithful in “little things,” and I passed this challenge along to our members.

A story in The Principle of The Path reminded me of this truth. The author recalls a story his father, Charles Stanley, used to tell him.

Before I go any further, let me say a quick word about Dr. Charles Stanley (for those who may not be familiar with his ministry). He is the pastor of First Baptist Atlanta and the founder/president of In Touch Ministries. The reach of his ministry is international, and his preaching had a significant impact on my own spiritual growth during my teenage years. My late aunt was an active member of his church and would bring cassette tapes of his sermons to me by the box. There’s no telling how many hours I’ve spend listening to these tapes on my Walkman while mowing lawns.

But Stanley didn’t start out as a mega church pastor. One of his first churches, in fact, was a small church in the mountains of North Carolina. Each week he preached to twenty or thirty attendees, mostly farmers with little formal education.

He was tempted to cut back on his sermon preparation during this early phase of his ministry. It was a small church, after all, and his congregation probably wouldn’t notice if he put less than his best into his messages. The Lord challenged him to look at things differently:

“But every time I was tempted to wing it, every time I considered pulling an outline out of one of those mail-order sermon outline catalogs, I felt like God was saying, ‘Charles, don’t prepare with just this audience in mind. You prepare for the future. Prepare as if you were speaking to thousands of people, not dozens.’ So that’s exactly what I did.”

Dr. Stanley told and re-told this story to his son Andy. The message stuck—one of Andy’s first ministry assignments was teaching a small college Sunday school class in Dallas. He faithfully prepared his lessons as if he were preaching back at his dad’s church. Andy himself is now an internationally recognized preacher and author.

We should be faithful in “little” things, believing God is always preparing us for greater opportunities and responsibilities.