The attention-getting phrase that came out of the introduction of Vic Fangio as the new head coach of the Denver Broncos was “death by inches.” When asked to explain what the phrase means, Fangio used the example of a player being late to a meeting by 30 seconds. That tardiness alone is insignificant. However, if it is not corrected it grows and spreads. That is what Fangio means by “death by inches.”
“Death by inches” is like: “sweat the small stuff,” “pay attention to the details,” and “death by a thousand cuts.”
“Death by inches” is an accurate proverb for the world of professional football and it is accurate for most areas of life. The employee who is late and whose work is sloppy. The student who does not study until test time. Relationships that gradually grow apart (how many songs have been written about this?).
“Death by inches” can also take place in the spiritual realm. A congregation gradually grows sloppier in their worship assemblies. Failure to stay fresh in our relationship with God and each other. Giving God our “leftovers.” Unholy habits develop this way. Apostacy normally takes place this way, one’s spiritual life shrivels up little by little.
“Death by inches” goes well with our “Wisdom and the Road to Character” Seminar. Character formation and deformation often occur by “inches” (slow and progressive). The biblical wisdom literature addresses this concept. For instance:
Eccl. 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might
Prov. 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life
Prov. 10:4 Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich
Prov. 12:11 He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who pursues worthless things lacks sense
Prov. 21:5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty
What other wisdom texts would you add to this list?