Small is Beautiful – in Football and in Business

I am not a soccer (‘football’ to the rest of the world) aficionado, but I do take a special interest every four years in the World Cup event, which takes place this year in November and December.  My interest is framed pretty much by my 21 years living in a country (Brazil) which is soccer crazy. Imagine a country like Brazil, where the population pretty much defines life around beaches, soccer, and café.

While watching some games this year, I remembered a book I read over forty years ago, Small is Beautiful by E. F. Schumacher. This New York Times bestseller teaches us that economic growth must be responsibly balanced, with the needs of communities and the environment. The connection to World Cup soccer really is just incidental in that tiny countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, Croatia, Senegal, and Portugal are on a par with the giants like France, England, Brazil, Germany, and Argentina. As such, my interest was piqued, and got me thinking.

What does this have to do with business, and more specifically, kingdom businesses?  Schumacher references Jesus’ comments in MT 6:33 – ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and these things (the material things which you also need) shall be added unto you.’ They shall be added, we are told, here on earth where we need them, not simply in an after-life beyond our imagination. It is becoming apparent that there is not only a promise but also a threat in those astonishing words about the kingdom of God – the threat that ‘unless you seek first the kingdom, these other things, which you also need, will cease to be available to you’.1

Schumacher of course challenges the metaphysic of materialism and calls for an end of excessive consumption.  He makes the case for simple, small, beautiful things in business, society and in communities. The challenge as we build a business for the glory of God is that while sometimes it may be fair and just to “think big”, let’s do it beautifully small and with excellence first. As we scale the business, remember to pray for and work toward a continuance of that quality product and commitment to maintaining justice, integrity, and fairness for the labor community and customer base.  “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.”

It is unclear if Schumacher is a person of faith, but it is clear that he insists on an objective basis for truth. And all truth is God’s truth. “Mankind has indeed a certain freedom of choice: it is not bound by trends, by the ‘logic of production’, or by any other fragmentary logic. But it is bound by truth. Only in the service of truth is perfect freedom, and even those who today ask us to free our imagination from bondage to the existing system fail to point the way to the recognition of truth.” It is incumbent upon every business owner, working toward the Kingdom of God, to regularly acknowledge His truth and make it the foundation of his business model.  The foundation of truth and decision-making is God’s inviolate truth.

So here is a topic for a staff meeting.  Ask ‘how is it possible for tiny nations to produce competitive soccer teams with the big nations which have larger player pools and millions of assets?’  How can they be small yet excellent, rule-keepers, competitive, successful, beautiful, and good?  How then can my business do likewise?

Key words: Truth, excellence, Jesus, small, quality, relationships, creation, community, the good, kingdom of God.

  1. Schumacher, E.F. The Epilogue in Small is Beautiful. Blond and Briggs, 1973.

Larry W. Sharp, BAM Support Specialist, IBEC Ventures

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