Have you ever been shortchanged? You're at the store, paying cash for a purchase and realize, only after leaving the store, you have not received the correct change, or you have been overcharged. Or, you pull away from a drive-through only to realize that your complete order is not in the bag.

We all know how that feels to one extent or another. It makes us angry, frustrated and disappointed. It is not cool to be shortchanged!

A few days ago, I was shortchanged. The bad news, it was I who shortchanged myself. I love cycling. It is my cardio exercise of choice. I typically try to ride 20 to 30 miles three to four times a week. On that particular day, my goal was to get to 20 miles.

My preferred cycling route has a couple drawbridges over which I have to travel. The surface of each bridge is made of metal grating. When it rains and the bridges are wet, they are very slippery. Because of past incidences of fishtailing across them, I now have a consistent anxiety when I have to cross one.

So, I made it over the first bridge, and when I arrived at the intersection where I would take a right turn to continue my ride, I decided to make a left turn to avoid the second bridge. Not a big deal, I thought. I would just take a different route.

After cruising on the alternate course for a short distance, it became apparent that I was not going to hit my 20-mile goal before reaching my final destination. That’s when it hit me—

I just shortchanged myself by not reaching my goal. Instead of riding 20 miles, I only rode 15.5 miles.

After my ride, I starting thinking about what riding 4.5 fewer miles could potentially mean to my fitness, especially if it became a pattern. I not only shortened the distance of my journey, but I also reduced the amount of time I exercised, which in turn lowered my caloric output by 300 calories.

Again, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, right? However, compounded over time, a small, insignificant decision has big consequences. Three hundred calories multiplied by four days equals 1,200 calories, multiplied by 52 weeks equals 62,400 calories or almost 18 pounds of potential weight loss/gain. It turns out that this small decision is actually a big decision in disguise.

In his book The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success, Darren Hardy states that “small, smart choices plus consistency, plus time equal radical difference” (p.10). The small decisions made day in and day out can determine our future. Consistently making good decisions will lead to a positive future.

One of our leadership values at Christ Fellowship is that We Are Faithful in the Small Things.  We know that as a person is faithful, day in and day out, the compounding effect over time is an individual who earns trust, greater influence and increased empowerment with more responsibility. Jesus says these very same words in the parable of the faithful servants, "Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities." (Matthew 25:23).

But let's face it, when we want to do big, important things, it can be difficult to be faithful in small, seemingly insignificant tasks. There is the gravity-like pull to try to take a faster route to leadership and influence. However, it is in the consistency over time of doing the small things, making the small choices, that compound and build the character, maturity and resilience to lead at higher levels.

So, when you arrive at the intersection and have the opportunity to turn and continue the journey to the leadership and influence ahead of you, or turn the opposite way, don't shortchange yourself. Turn right!