Back in 1944 when workers were short, hundreds of women volunteered to support the war effort by operating an aircraft engine assembly plant that produced parts for the famous B-17 Flying Fortress. The women were carefully selected and diligent to produce, pack and ship quality engines. But then the unthinkable happened; sabotage! Even though the Nazis were more than an ocean away from Indianapolis, Army intelligence agents traced a case of suspected sabotage to that plant. The massive, silver-plated pistons they produced were arriving in England unusable, pitted with tiny pinholes. With daylight bombing at its peak, aircraft losses were staggering and the need for spare parts was critical. The saboteur had to be stopped. Through each phase of the manufacturing process, supervisors, armed security guards, and G-men posing as workers watched. They were certain the traitor was someone involved in the final phase of manufacture or packing, someone splashing small amounts of acid or solvent on the pistons. Days went by and the professional spy catchers found nothing.

Then one day, a shift supervisor named Dovie spotted the saboteur. At 5 feet tall and 100 pounds, Dovie may not have looked like a sleuth. Yet her quick thinking and keen instincts resulted in the authorities being alerted and the traitor being stopped. The enemy she had spotted – the one responsible for the pinholes in the pistons – was a peanut machine!

Every, day the peanut machine outside the cafeteria dispensed salted peanuts by the handful. Every day, workers went from lunch back to the assembly line without washing their hands. When they picked up the pistons, traces of salt were transferred from their skin to the silver plating. That’s all it took. The tiny corrosives, packed away and forgotten, did tremendous damage in the darkness on the long trip overseas. The resulting pinholes made the pistons useless. In the battleground of our busy lives and challenged priorities it is the little things we leave unsaid or undone in our workplace, in our families, especially unkind words or actions that we forget about or think are no big deal – that can eat away at our relationships.

We need excellence in everything we do. If we think over time that the little things don’t matter, watch as the beautiful relationship with your kids/team/co-workers/spouse end up full of pinholes.

Jesus put it this way: Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. Luke 16:10

We need to learn to sweat the small stuff.



PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.

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