Small Deeds Done Are Better Than Great Deeds Planned

Lately there have been a number of days spent by yours truly enjoying a pursuit that my children have come to call "chilling out".


Lately there have been a number of days spent by yours truly enjoying a pursuit that my children have come to call "chilling out". With a great deal of effort, these days are now generally confined to Saturdays and Sundays. I guess that what I have doing is the modern version of stopping to smell the roses.

However, let me warn you that it is difficult to smell the roses when you are gazing at them through a television screen. Once again my Sunday evening was spent watching the movies of yesteryear. To me there is something particularly comforting about spending time with those shows which were popular during the faraway days of my youth.

Each week I strive to bring some reason into the world. Perhaps the current state of the world provides the reason that is why I write as much as I do. Once again this is my goal for this week's visit with you.

You may wonder from whence the title for this week's visit came. The idea came from a movie that I was watching on the Fox Movie Channel. While watching the poignant closing scenes from the movie, "A Man Called Peter," those words literally jumped out at me from my television set.

The movie is a biographical portrayal of the life of Peter Marshall, late Chaplain of the United States Senate. The words form a part of the last prayer created by him before his untimely death on January 26, 1949, at age forty-six. I would like to thank the folks at the In Touch Ministries' website for providing an excellent commentary on his life. Their words allow me to share with you some thoughts on his life.

It has been my experience that the more you know about a person the better able you will be to understand their lives and their words. A Scottish immigrant, Peter Marshall was a man who lived his beliefs. Very early in his life he made an irrevocable decision to live his life for the Lord. He set to work with every fiber of his being to do just that. He lived a life doing something in which he believed most fervently.

One of my favorite books in my office library is entitled, "The Prayers of Peter Marshall". It is a compilation of the many prayers created by him in his years as a Pastor. It is still available from Amazon.com. There were 88 copies of this 1954 edition in the used book section. It holds a tremendous amount of guidance and direction from a truly great clergyman.

Many times during my service as an assisting minister at Hope Lutheran Church in Freehold, New Jersey, I turned to Marshall's words for guidance. Let me share the full text of this prayer with you.

"Deliver us, our Father, from futile hopes and from clinging to lost causes, that we may move into every-growing calm and ever-widening horizons. Where we cannot convince, let us be willing to persuade, for small deed done are better than great deeds planned. We know that we cannot do everything. But help us to do something. For Jesus' sake, Amen" (Marshall, 1954, p. 243).

As I reviewed these words a thought came to me. Are each of us doing something, or are we just talking about what we intend to do? As a person living a life of service, let me ask you, who are hopefully also living lives of service, a couple of questions. Are you doing something? Do you believe in what you are doing?

Your answers to these two questions are critical. How many times have you gone through the motions when completing a task, rather than pouring your heart into it? I believe that our generation has coined a critical phrase to cover this though. Did you do the job, or just mail it in?

A fire service buddy from Illinois called me the other day. His name is Ken Folisi and he served as a Battalion Chief in the Lisle-Woodridge Fire Department. He called me to tell me that he had retired and then shared some of his plans for the future. As you might imagine, I was pleased to hear from him.

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