Tag Archives: big

10 Life Lessons from the Movie Big

You know the scene.  Josh and Billy are walking down the street after a busy day of being kids.  They start singing –

The space goes down, down baby, down, down the roller coaster. Sweet, sweet baby, sweet, sweet, don’t let me go. Shimmy, shimmy, cocoa pop. Shimmy, shimmy, rock. Shimmy, shimmy, cocoa pop. Shimmy, shimmy, rock. I met a girlfriend – a triscuit. She said, a triscuit – a biscuit. Ice cream, soda pop, vanilla on the top. Ooh, Shelly’s out, walking down the street, ten times a week. I read it. I said it. I stole my momma’s credit. I’m cool. I’m hot. Sock me in the stomach three more times.

I have no idea what this song is, but I know that I’ll never forget it.


Big came out the day after my 7th birthday in 1988.  If you’ve never seen this movie before, immediately stop what you’re doing and head to Netflix.  In case you haven’t seen this piece of cinematic wonder in a while, here’s a brief summary.   The movie is about a 12-year-old boy, Josh Baskin, who wishes to be ‘big’ in order to fit in and win over a lady.  The morning after he makes the wish, he wakes up a 30-year-old man (Tom Hanks).

I have no idea how many times I’ve seen the movie, but it’s somewhere around 174 (just guessing).  Here are 10 lessons to apply to your life immediately.

1. Be happy with who you are…and when you are.

Zoltar Speaks

Zoltar Speaks

Josh was so frustrated with being a small 12-year-old and he just couldn’t stand it any more. After dropping a coin in the Zoltar Speaks machine, he wishes to completely bypass the most important years of his young life and skip right to being an adult just to fit in.  While you’re ‘growing up’ you have a lot of milestones to look forward to.

  • 10-years-old – double digits!
  • 13-years-old – you’re a teenager!
  • 16-years-old – you can drive!
  • 18-years-old – you can vote / you graduated high school!
  • 21-years-old – you can drink!
  • 25-years-old – you can save on insurance!
  • 30-years-old – you can kiss your youth goodbye!

After a while, there’s not a lot of personal milestones to anticipate.  Soon, you start getting excited about those milestones for your own kids.  No matter what age you are, you’re going to feel somewhat unfulfilled, too young, too old, too early, too late, too awkward, too skinny, too fat, too short, too tall, too carefree, too worrisome, too too too.  If we spend all our days waiting for what’s next, we’ll forget to pay attention of what’s going on now.  In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

God made us in his image.  He planned for our existence at this very time.  He didn’t plan for us to be around in 1730 or 600 or 300 B.C.  He chose for you to be here now.  He chose the way we look.  He chose our skills.  He chose our weaknesses.  When we try to force changes or wish upon a Zoltar, we’re telling God that we think our plans are more important.*

*(They aren’t.)

2. Don’t forget about your friends.


As we get older our circle of influence grows wider and wider with the people we work with, go to church with or parents of the friends our kids hang out with.  But, I think over time our inner circle of really close friends thins out.  Graduation, relocation and reproduction all pull us away from the friends we used to see all the time.

During one scene, Josh and Billy are arguing because Josh’s job is consuming all his time.  Josh tells Billy that job is important.

Billy replies, “I’m your best friend. What’s more important than that, huh?”

We need to embrace our friends, both literally and figuratively.  Take the time to call people.  I struggle with this.  I get selfish with my time.  I might be on a three-hour drive across the state, but I just want to zone out and listen to music.  I truly miss several of my friends and I love that I can pick up where I left off with many of them.  It’s been hard moving to a new city and having to build my friend base over again.  I miss cutting up with my friends.  I miss serving my friends.  I miss being able to give them an actual hug (my man-card says I can do that from time to time.)

John 15:12-15 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”

3. Realize that things are temporary.


Greatest.  Apartment.  Ever.  What kid (heck, what adult) didn’t want this bachelor pad.  Josh had a Pepsi machine (mine would have been Coke, but still…) in his apartment!  He had ridiculously high ceilings and a massive trampoline outfitted with rubber balls.  He had a basketball hoop.  Inside.  He had bunk beds (“I get to be on top!”)  He had a 6′ godzilla-blow-up-thing and pinball games.  This place was awesome.

But, Josh started to fall in love.  As he did, more and more of his time was spent at his girlfriend’s place, or out on dates.  Eventually, he started realizing how out of place he was and how much he just wanted to be back home as a kid.  His things became less and less important.  You could walk in his apartment and think he had the world on a string, but inside Josh was insecure and scared.

Who are we once you strip away all our belongings?  How much do we rely on our things for joy instead of relationships with God, family or friends?

4. You’re never too old to have fun.

This is probably the most iconic scene in Big and one of the most timeless scenes ever.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing…”

5. Speak up if you don’t understand something.

A co-worker and I have created our own term.  When a vendor is trying to explain something to us and we just don’t quite follow what they are saying, we say that we “Tom Hanks it.”  Simply, this just means that the value proposition or main point is not being clearly communicated.

In this scene, Josh doesn’t understand how anyone could have fun with a building that turned into a robot.

6. You don’t have to blend in.


For the record, I believe that everyone should own a great piece of thrift store formal wear.  I have a couple of pretty stellar suits that haven’t been in style since Big came out.  I quite enjoy wearing them when I get the opportunity.

Josh made a heck of an entrance when he showed up to a company event dressed in an all-white tuxedo.  He didn’t blend in with all the other traditional black penguin-style tuxedos in the room.  If we were all preoccupied with being someone else, no one would be themselves.

7. Do things on your own terms.


Josh Baskin’s first paycheck working for the toy company was for $187.30.  Josh went to the bank (this was way before auto-draft) to cash his check and the cashier asked him a profound question.  “How do you want that?”

“Three dimes, a hundred-dollar bill and 87 ones.”

We should do what we want every now and then.  God still wants us to have fun.  He kinda invented it.  We have the physical ability to feel fun, excitement and spontaneity.

Ecclesiastes 3:13 reminds us that God wants us to have enjoyment, “Also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.”

8. Do what you love.

Billy: So you got a job, where you play with all these toys.

Josh: Yup!

Billy: And they’re gonna pay you for that!

Josh: Yup!


Colossians 3:23-24 tell us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Whether we are working in ministry or in secular careers, we should be working to benefit the Lord and we should love doing it.  Not everyone is called to work in ministry.  Some are called to serve in other industries that keep the world moving.  We need doctors, teachers, farmers, assembly line workers, white collars, blue collars and volunteers.  We need to prayerfully consider how our career could impact the church body and how our own personal ministries can penetrate the workplace.

9. Throw thermal pod.


Early in the movie, Josh is playing an old-school computer game and he can’t get past a certain level.  He is standing among slain ice dwarfs and has to defeat the evil wizard, but has no idea how.  Eventually, as Josh’s life experiences influenced him and gave him wisdom, he revisits the game and conquers the evil wizard with the command “throw thermal pod.”

We need to intentionally pray for wisdom to overcome our current and future dilemmas.  Solomon prayed and his “wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt.”

There are over 200 references to wisdom throughout Scripture.  Job 12:12 says, “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?”

10. Hug your mom.


For heaven’s sake, hug your mom.

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