Dr. Jamie Jenkins: Little Things Mean a Lot

Little things make a big difference. Sometimes a small act or word can turn a phrase or situation on its head. Do you remember the television commercial a few years ago that featured "Mean" Joe Greene? 

Charles Edward Joseph Greene is better known by his nickname "Mean Joe" Greene. The 6'3", 270-pound defensive tackle acquired his nickname from his college football team, the North Texas State University "Mean Green." He was the fourth pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1969 NFL draft and spent his entire career with them until his retirement in 1981.


Mean Joe Greene made several television commercials and appeared in a half dozen movies. He may be best known outside the football world for the Coke commercial that aired in October of 1979. The commercial is listed as one of the top ten commercials of all time by TV Guide magazine and USAToday.com.


In the commercial a young boy follows the hard hitting member of Pittsburgh's "Steel Curtain" defense as he hobbles down the tunnel away from the playing field. The kid says, "Hey Mr. Greene, need any help?" Joe replies with a scowl, "No." The boy says "I think you are the best ever. Want my Coke?"


The rugged football player says no but the child persists and Joe takes the drink. As he turns the bottle up the boy turns to walk away. Mean Joe Greene lowers the bottle, smiles at the boy, and tosses him his jersey. Mean Joe's disposition is totally changed by the boy's small gesture of hospitality.


Not only what we do but what we say can make a difference. Wise counsel about our speech is given in the Old Testament Book of Proverbs. "A word fitly spoken and in due season is like apples of gold in settings of silver" (Proverbs 25:11, Amplified Bible).

Simple expressions of affirmation or affection have the potential to encourage and strengthen.

The right word at the right time is powerful. Likewise, the "wrong" word can be hurtful or counter-productive.


In a recent edition of this weekly e-newsletter I said, "I don't believe that everything that happens to us is not God's will..." The three letter word "not" completely changed the intended meaning. I was trying to suggest that God does not initiate or endorse tragic circumstances and events of life. They are not God's will but the unwanted "not" expressed the opposite perspective.


A seemingly insignificant word or deed can make a world of difference. Little things mean a lot. They can make a big difference--for good or ill.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of the Christ-Child, let us carefully choose our words and be intentional in the way we act toward one another. I pray that we will let "Christ be born in us today" so that others may see Him through us.

Jamie Jenkins

[Taken with permission from "Monday Morning in North Georgia," Dec. 5, 2011.North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.]