The devil is in the details, so the saying goes.
In other words, missing minor points can cause a larger project to fail. As tedious as it is to get the little things right, sometimes the details really are that important.
Consider the failed O-rings that made the Challenger explode on January 28th, 1986. Cold weather on the morning of the launch caused the seals to fail and led to one of the most significant setbacks in the US space program. The O-rings represented small parts out of millions, but their failure was devastating to the whole project.
Very few of our actions will have such a significant impact. Our mistakes are unlikely to cost lives and billions of dollars. That doesn’t mean our daily efforts and decisions on seemingly minor aspects of projects aren’t important parts of the big picture. Certain jobs focus on tasks that appear unimportant. But if those tasks aren’t done, big problems result.
Think about the cleaning staff of an office building. Executives make big money decisions, managers keep processes humming along, and various workers write reports, invent new widgets, or sell products. These people appear to be the ones moving the company forward. Yet their work is no more important than the personnel scrubbing toilets. Filthy bathrooms distract the rest of the workers. Sickness results. Other workers will not want to be employed by a company with unsanitary restrooms, so they’ll go find a better business to work for.
The cleaning crew has an important job. They perform tasks other people could probably do, but the division of labor makes the company run more efficiently. The president may be more effective researching upcoming decisions than sweeping floors, so while all work is important, it makes sense for labor to be divided.
Scripture provides examples of this principle. We typically read these passages to refer to work within the church, but they are also applicable to businesses.
Acts 6:1-7 records the selection of seven men considered to be the first deacons. They were chosen to serve the physical needs of the congregation so the apostles could focus on prayer and teaching Scripture. The deacons’ work was not less important than the ministry of the apostles (nor was the reverse true), but the apostles were more qualified to perform their tasks because of their intimate relationship with Christ, so the division of labor made sense.
Similarly, when Paul writes about differing tasks within the church, he notes that the body of Christ is comprised of many members. Some are given tasks that often appear to be more or less important in comparison to others. Yet there is great honor given to those whose responsibilities seem lowly. The whole body can’t get by without these so-called lesser parts (I Cor. 12:21-25).
This isn’t to say there is a direct correlation between the church and a corporation, but the principle is applicable outside of so-called spiritual things. Scripture is calling the church to embody the reality of the inherent goodness of work. These principles were written for the church, but are a reflection of the universal truth that all work is good work.
Perhaps, then, it would be fair to argue that the devil isn’t in the details, but God is. It is God-honoring to treat the proper execution of minutia as an act of service. It is also proper to recognize the significance of mundane work done well.
No matter how small the task appears, it is worthy of being done well. Regardless of where your job falls on the org chart, you have the opportunity to contribute to the company and the glory of God through a job well-done.