The city of Chicago is an architectural wonder. Towering, sleek, modern skyscrapers of steel and glass fill the sky. Wedged between them, unapologetic and unintimidated, stand stunning older structures of ornately carved stone. The city silently tells thousands of histories of bold men who dreamed and built and achieved great things.
“Make no little plans,” Daniel Burnham (1864-1912), one of Chicago’s early architects, said. “They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever growing insistency. … Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big” (emphasis added throughout).
Isn’t that just the way God thinks!
Look at the size of the universe! Isaiah 9 says the increase of God’s government will never end—because God is so zealous He’ll make sure of it! He is a go-getter. He is a big thinker.
We must challenge our own mental smallness—and train ourselves to expand our plans like God.
Life, Fire, Wing, Force!
Big thinking inspires—and demands—vigorous action.
Amid a spiritual revival among the early American colonists, a minister named George Whitefield bestrode the scene. He was not a true minister of God, but here is how another man described him: “He lived. Other men seemed to be only half-alive; but Whitefield was all life, fire, wing, force.”
That description also applied beautifully to Herbert W. Armstrong. His autobiography hums with vigorous fire and force. “There was always the sense that I had to hurry!” he wrote. “I was learning to plunge into a task with dynamic energy.” When he was almost 83 years old, he wrote, “There is no question I am asked more often, it seems, than ‘What is the secret of your long life, youthful vitality, energy and drive?’” (Plain Truth, July 12, 1975). Eighty-three!
Evaluate yourself. Are you really maximizing the physical life and mental capacity God has given you? Or have you allowed yourself to be trapped—be small, narrow, timid, dull?
Mr. Armstrong once had a temporary job at a small-class journal. He recognized potential for it to grow into a far more important position, so he worked hard at it and exploited that potential. That big thinking led him to establish a successful business of national scope right in bustling Chicago. “This is the quality, rare among people (but why should it be?), called vision,” he wrote in his autobiography. “Most men are never able to see any possibilities of expanding their present jobs. They do merely what they are told—what someone higher up thought out and laid before them. … [They] never think out ways to do the job better, or to develop or expand their own job into something bigger, or to be preparing themselves for the better jobs ahead and promotions to them …. [T]he application of some of these principles makes all the difference between employee and employer; between mediocrity or failure and success.”
Consider your roles in life: husband, wife, student, parent, employee, boss, Church member, co-worker. Have you settled for mediocre? For example, Mr. Armstrong said God called each of us to support His mission on Earth through our “prayers, encouragement, tithes and offerings.” We can do those things like we’re walking a treadmill—or we can seize those spectacular God-given opportunities and always look for ways to do them bigger and better!
Keep our future in mind—God plans to use us as Earth-wide king-priests—and then we’ll more easily recognize the excitement in supporting the Work today, in teaching our families today. Use each day to prepare! What more can we accomplish? What more can we do today to help our families, to help God’s Work, to develop ourselves, to train for more future responsibility? Think big!
Among Mr. Armstrong’s secrets of youthful vitality, he shared these. Have the right goal, one that keeps you looking forward in anticipation. Keep your mind active and spry through continual education. Maintain good health through careful diet, good sleep, exercise, fresh air and water. Keep a determined prod on yourself! “Often, when I feel like letting down, I have to use determination and force myself to keep driving on!” Mr. Armstrong wrote. “Never give up; never just lie down and quit! Many a time I’ve felt like it. Sometimes I have given up and quit at bedtime, but after a night’s sleep it’s all a new ball game, and next morning I’m plunging into it with renewed vigor and enthusiasm!” (Plain Truth, op. cit.).
Our Source of Life
No doubt this is also how Jesus Christ presented Himself while on Earth. “In him was life,” the Apostle John wrote (John 1:4). He could have added, “He lived! Other men seemed to be only half-alive—but Jesus was all life, fire, wing, force!” Christ was filled to overflowing with the animating power of the Holy Spirit—the power by which He created the universe!
Of course we all have limitations—physical, mental, psychological. We all have the tendency to think small. But here is the exciting thing: God offers us the power to break out of that!
In the book of Revelation, John talks about the tree of life—and “a pure river of water of life” (Revelation 22:1). Christ said we can drink those living waters today so that within us will be “a well of water springing up into everlasting life”! (John 4:14). He came to Earth so that we could possess this vital, energetic life—abundantly! (John 10:10).
We must stir up that spiritual life every day. “When Christ is living in us, we are always growing and changing,” Gerald Flurry writes. “Mr. Armstrong taught emphatically that spiritual growth was one of the signs of the true Church. God’s Church would be constantly growing in knowledge and grace” (The Key of David). Using that Spirit will translate into action—heartfelt expressions of outgoing love toward our families, the brethren, the Work and the world.
God wants to improve the quality of our thoughts most of all. Thoughts lead to words and actions. Small thinking is a trap. God wants us to do—produce—act! He wants to build within us more of the kind of ambition that He has! That starts with our prayers. God wants to improve the quality of our thoughts—and of all our thoughts, those we think during our prayers are most important.
Christ taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). This is not a self-oriented prayer. It springs from a realistic appraisal of how much this world needs God. In this dark world, God’s Work is the only light!
We can never afford to get complacent about our commission. We are to “prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings”! (Revelation 10:11). We can’t think small. We must think big! This Work helps us do that. Mr. Flurry writes in the Prophesy Again booklet, “This prophesy again commission … is building a mindset in us that God will use throughout eternity.”
Are we building that mindset? Can we do it better? Can we build that mindset more in our prayer life—for the world, the Laodiceans, the Work? Can we build it more in our family life, our marriages, our child rearing? Our dealings with the brethren? The way we act on the job, and around people in the world? Are we thinking big—the way God wants us to?
Mr. Armstrong said the most important key to his youthful energy was his constant contact with God. He received God’s help and protection countless times. And even more, he claimed God’s promise in Isaiah 40:28-31: “[T]he everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary. … He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary … But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
Partake daily of that tree of life. Drink of the “pure river of water of life” daily! God wants us to have that life more abundantly. He doesn’t want us to think small. He doesn’t want us half-alive. He wants us to be full of the Spirit—so that, like Christ, we can become all life, fire, wing, force. Think big!