The Parable of the Red Paperclip

I keep a red paperclip on my desk.

It’s a reminder that small choices can have big results.

A little bit of backstory…

In 2006 Kyle MacDonald decided to have some fun.  Remebering a bartering game he played as a kid, he decided to see what he could get for a red paperclip sitting on his desk.  He wound up with a house.  (Check out how he got there.)

It’s likely you could find a paperclip lying around wherever you are in about 3.5 seconds.  They are so common.  So ordinary.  So simple and inconsequential.  That the value of a paperclip could be leveraged for a house is simply ridiculous.  Of course, that’s part of what draws me to this story.  The sheer audaciousness of the thing.  A paperclip for a house?  Who takes that deal?  No one.  But a paperclip for a pen?  Maybe.  A pen for a doorknob?  Okay.  And so on and so on and the next thing you know you’re moving into a new home.

So, for years I’ve kept a paperclip (red, of course) nearby.   I haven’t attempted trading it and I don’t really want to.  I want to be reminded the simple and small can become big and great under the right circumstances.

It’s a kind word to a child.

It’s holding open a door for a stranger.

It’s letting the young mother go ahead in the line.

It’s writing a letter.

It’s a smile.

It’s a prayer.

It’s mustard seeds and yeast.

It’s a small stone.

It’s a couple of copper coins.

It’s the ripple that becomes a wave.

It’s the breeze that becomes a hurricane.

It’s the way the Kingdom is coming.

Small choices, added together.

Small lives, blended together.

Mother Teresa is quoted as having said, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” (I bet she carried around a red paperclip too.)

Isn’t that brilliant?  Do the small things and watch them add up with all the others doing small things and watch God do something amazing with it all.

I can do small things.  I can put my arms around small tasks.  I can work toward small goals.  And that’s all that is asked of us.

So what will you give me for a red paperclip?

Life is better together,

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