2316) Little Things Mean A Lot

Pick Up Trash Stock Photos And Images - 123RF

By Millard Fuller (1935-2009), founder of Habitat for Humanity, in Building Materials for Life, page 91-93.


     Recently, a dear friend had unexpected surgery.  During the time of convalescence, Linda and I sent her a small bouquet of roses.  She called when the roses arrived, exclaiming that the roses were precisely the color that was such a favorite of her beloved father.  Our friendship, already strong, was strengthened by that simple act of love and concern.

     Little things mean a lot.  A note to a friend.  A letter of encouragement to an acquaintance who is going through a difficult time.  A phone call or visit to someone who has experienced a personal loss.

     When our family moved from Koinonia Farm to Americus in 1977, we were greeted with coldness and expressions of hostility (because of Koinonia’s and the Fuller’s commitment to racial reconciliation and integration).  Broken glass was thrown in our driveway nearly every night for the first couple of weeks.

     I had opened a small law office in town to support our family.  One room of that office was the first office of Habitat for Humanity.  A local attorney, Frank Myers Jr., invited Linda and me to dinner at his home.  During this visit, he told me that he was aware of the feelings of people toward us because of our connection with Koinonia.  He also said he was sure I didn’t have a law library since I had not practiced law for several years.  He told me I could use his law library “just like it was my own” until I was able to afford to buy my own law books.  I was deeply touched by his simple offer of kindness and support.  I used his library for a couple of years and it was a great help to me.  The community’s negative feelings toward us dissipated over the years, but I’ll always remember and appreciate the kindness of Frank Myers.  He has remained a friend over the years, expressing that friendship in various ways, including becoming an encourager and supporter of Habitat.

     Our house in Americus was located on East Church Street.  My law office was about three quarters of a mile away on West Church Street.  As I walked to work each morning and back home in the evening, I got into the habit of picking up trash along the way.  There was no fanfare to what I did.  I simply bent down as I went along and scooped up candy wrappers, coke cans, and other assorted trash that had been tossed on the sidewalk and street by thoughtless people.  I put the collected items in trash receptacles.  Over time, I began to get comments and even phone calls from people who had noticed what I was doing.  They expressed appreciation and, I believe, were inspired to “do likewise.”

     Also, my daily encounters, with trash gave me an insight I had not had before.  There is a direct connection between trash on the streets and substandard housing.  A community that tolerates trash on the streets will accept substandard housing.  Conversely, a community that will not accept trash will not tolerate poverty housing.  You see, trash is a visible sign of the mentality of people in an area.  That mentality is that the physical environment is of little concern to them.  Substandard housing is simply a larger visible sign of a lack of concern.

     I have often said that housing is a spiritual issue.  Housing is so essential to human beings.  Adequate housing promotes all sorts of positive things, especially for children.  Lack of good housing creates negative conditions, which precipitate all sorts of bad results in individuals, families, and communities.

     Like housing, trash is also a spiritual issue.  The earth is the Lord’s, the Bible says.  Showing respect for the earth demonstrates respect and love for God.  In like manner, people are God’s creation.  Showing respect and love for people demonstrates respect and love for God.

     But it all starts out with little stuff.  A piece of trash is carelessly tossed on the sidewalk.  Pick it up!  A friend needs encouragement?  Pick up the phone.

     Do little things to show love and respect for those around you, and you will reap big rewards.


Matthew 10:42  —  (Jesus said), ” If you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”

Psalm 24:1  —  The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.

James 2:15-17  —  Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.


You are never tired, O Lord, of doing us good; let us never be weary of doing you service.  But as you have pleasure in the well-being of your servants, let us take pleasure in the service of our Lord, and abound in your work and in your love and praise evermore.  Amen.   –John Wesley