A famous minister had dinner with a family and spent the afternoon at their house. When it was time for him to leave for an important speaking engagement, a little girl asked him if he wanted to see her kittens before he left. He went with her to the shed where they lived and enjoyed her telling him the names of each kitten and stories about their adventures. He stayed with her and the kittens so long that he was late to his meeting.

I can’t remember the minister’s name because I heard the story 35 to 40 years ago. I remember that the point of the story was that even though the minister was “famous” and “important” and many people were waiting to hear him, he was so interested in the stories a little girl had to tell him about her kittens that he arrived at his meeting late.

Thirty-five to 40 years ago, I thought the story was tiresomely sentimental and that the minister should have organized his time better. Today it dawned on me that that minister was acting like Jesus when he devoted his attention to the little girl and the kittens she loved.

Greatness in the kingdom of God is more about taking little girls and what they love seriously and not at all about ensuring that meetings begin and end on schedule.

Mother Teresa once said, “What you and I must do is nothing less than putting our love for Christ into practice. The important thing is not how much we accomplish, but how much love we put into our deeds every day. That is the measure of our love for God.”

I overlooked a lot of little girls and kittens over the past 40 years. I pray that I don’t miss the next one that comes my way.