Think Small

Contributed by Mike Woods of Special Friends FBO.  Originally posted September 27, 2011

Yesterday I came across something that caught my eye:  Think small.  “Think small” according to Advertising Age, was the No. 1 advertising campaign of the 20th century.   Of course, no discussion of the greatest ad campaign is complete without mention of some truly great ones throughout the past 10 decades.  There’s Nike’s “Just do it,” Marlboro’s Marlboro Man, the U.S. Army’s “Be all that you can be,” Apple Computer’s “1984,” Campbell Soup’s “Mmm mmm good!”, the Jolly Green Giant. The list goes on and on.

However, no other ad campaign did more to boost sales and build a lifetime of brand loyalty than “Think small.”  It was the 1960s ad campaign for the Volkswagen Beetle.  Unless you’re old enough to remember you probably don’t know much about the advertising campaign for the first Volkswagen Beetle.

What made the first Volkswagen Beetle ad campaign so radical that it still stands as the number one ad campaign in the history of advertising?  Well, back in the last 50′s/early 60′s, competing American automakers were building ever bigger cars for growing families with baby boomer children. The Beetle, on the other hand, was tiny and, well, ugly. Who would buy it?  So, at a time when the US consumers were being urged, cajoled and ‘persuaded’ to “think big” along comes this one ad suggesting the opposite.

The thing that struck me about the slogan ”Think small” was the realization that I have a tendency to think BIG.  I try to come up with BIG ideas and make all kinds of plans to grow and expand our Special Friends Ministry at First Baptist Orlando.  I want Special Friends to be the biggest  and the best in all of Orlando…okay, why not just say it: I want it to be the biggest and best in all of Florida!  But sometimes BIG is not necessarily better.

The challenge with my inclination to think BIG is that when I read the Gospels I find a Savior who had a tendency to think small.  When I read the Gospel of Matthew I’m reminded how often Jesus took time from what he was doing to talk with someone who was considered marginalized by the rest of society.  Our Lord stopped to talk, touch, and minister to those who were blind, deaf, lame, or with some other type of disability…those who were considered “small.”  Perhaps Jesus was the original creator of “Think small.”

Let me leave you with a quote from someone who started a ministry that is now operating 600 missions, schools, and shelters in 120 countries around the world.  She accomplished some very big things for the Kingdom because she made it a point to “Think small” on a daily basis:

“In the West we have a tendency to be outcome-oriented, where everything is measured according to results and we get caught up in being more and more active to generate bigger results.  I do not agree with the BIG way of doing things–love needs to start small, with an individual.  To love a person, to make a difference, you must start with one person at a time…” Mother Teresa

So, I’ve been spending a lot of time these last several days contemplating this statement and reflecting on the small but deliberate actions of Jesus towards those with disabilities.  I need to spend some time thinking about and ensuring that my big plans never supercede ensuring that each and every child and adult that we serve through our Special Friends ministry feels welcomed and loved by the Body of Christ here at First Baptist Orlando…Think small.

Mike received his Masters Degree in Conflict Management from Trinity College and Theological Seminary.  He is a      certified Crisis Prevention Instructor and a Board Certified Associate Behavior Analyst.   Mike currently works as the Director for the Special Friends ministry at First Baptist Orlando. 
Prior to joining First Baptist Orlando, Mike worked for 9-years as the Autism and Inclusion Specialist for a large St. Louis school district.  He was also responsible for creating individualized curriculum for kids and for training staff  on how to teach children with autism using best-practice strategies.  
Mike has also worked as a Master Training Specialist for the Judevine Center for Autism and as an Early Interventionist for the Missouri First Steps Program.   While living in North Carolina, Mike taught  continuing education courses for special education teachers at Coastal Carolina College.  
 Christ-follower, husband, dad, writer.  Passionate about faith and special needs.  Coffee drinker and peanut-butter lover!
Mike is happily married to his lovely wife Linda and is the father of three wonderful boys, all three of whom are on the autism spectrum (yes, three!).

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