Wrestling with Smallness

Wrestling with Smallness

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In the past week I have come across several articles that say something to the effect of: You don’t have to do big, impressive things in order to be valuable to God’s kingdom.

It is a sentiment I heartily agree with, and yet …

  • I struggle with jealousy when a friend writes a post that gets thousands of hits.
  • I sometimes feel guilty for spending my time writing instead of doing something “more productive.”
  • Some days I wonder if I accomplished anything that matters.
  • Some days I doubt I will ever accomplish anything that matters.

Can you hear Satan laughing?

I have always been a pretty ordinary person. I don’t have an It’s-so-amazing-how-God-changed-my-life testimony. I never had aspirations to change the world, be famous, or climb to the top of the ladder. I have never been a great athlete, an amazing artist, or even the life of the party.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve missed it—wasted my life doing mundane stuff when I should have been Pursuing Excellence and engaging in Valuable Ministry.

But excellent and valuable don’t always equate to flashy. As J. R. R. Tolkien put it:

All that is gold does not glitter.

Jesus put it a different way:

I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these, my brothers of mine, you did for me. (NIV)

But watch out, because looking for the most challenging “least of these” to serve can take us right back down the wrong path. Maybe for you and me, in this season of life, serving the least of these means changing diapers, or scrubbing church toilets, or writing a blog with an average readership of thirty.

Can we be satisfied with that?

As I was pondering that question, I found this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.


Our past accomplishments and our future opportunities are not nearly as important as the state of our hearts. And the state of our hearts is not defined by how great or small we are, but by how great Jesus is— and how much we choose to rely on him.

Perhaps my problem is that during the ordinary times I forget my need to rely on him. I think, This is just everyday stuff; I got this.


Without Jesus, I don’t got nothin’. (Not even good grammar, apparently.)

And that makes me small, no matter how much I may accomplish. But on the flip side, No matter how small I am, I can do great things through Jesus.

The tagline of my blog is: Everyday lives, extraordinary possibilities.

Because I do believe we have the opportunity to be extraordinary, even in our everyday, mundane lives. Even when we are not feeling the least bit extraordinary. Even when out best efforts look no more than average.

This side of Heaven I can’t tell when I’ve touched a life in some extraordinary way. But I do know I’ll miss the opportunity if I’m wasting all my energy fretting over how small and unimportant I am.

Today I choose to be content with my ordinary life. How about you?

I cannot do all the good that the world needs, but the world needs all the good that I can do. Jana Standfield

About Lisa Betz

Lisa Betz writes from an empty nest perched on a wooded Pennsylvania hillside. When not volunteering at the church or library, she blogs about intentional living and writes historical mysteries.


  1. Just because no one makes a response to your blog…or to some service you performed in their life…or seemed to notice any one of a number of things you did in the normal course of your life…does not mean that they weren’t blessed because of you. I’ve noticed more and more in recent years that folks seldom stop to say thank you, but you still have touched their lives. God bless you as you serve Him in little things.

  2. Lisa, I loved this post so much.

    I firmly believe that we never know most of the things God uses us for. We think we’re doing something important “for the Kingdom” but really it’s that really small thing we did without even thinking about it that was the one God used for His glory. That’s why He frequently uses the “ordinary” people to accomplish such big things, but it reminds us how much we can do with Him and how much we need Him.

    And I so relate to: “Without Jesus, I don’t got nothin’.” 🙂 Bless you, Lisa.

  3. Wouldn’t it be nice to know when our efforts make a difference? But that isn’t how the world works. (And I suspect God designed it that way for a reason.) I am glad to be a part of groups like this where we can find both encouragement and reminders that our efforts are not wasted–even the ones that seem to have been ignored.

  4. Linda Beiler says:

    Plain, boring life is excellent.

  5. I can so identify, Lisa. Satan can so easily discourage us and convince us what we do doesn’t matter. But anything, even the seemingly insignificant things can become huge when placed in God’s hands. Just think of the 5 loaves and 2 fish. Our job is to obey what He asks us to do and trust Him to accomplish what he chooses. Thanks for this wonderful reminder of that. God bless!

  6. Laurie Driesen says:

    Thank you for this post Lisa- you reminded me that we always need to honor God – even in the smallest of things. It’s super important. I’ll bet you didn’t know how BIG your blog on smallness would be!

  7. You’re right, Laurie! We never know how big our small actions might be. I wise friend recently talked about how important it is to be available when needs arise–and so many of us are to busy being “productive and important” to be available.
    May God multiply all our ordinary little loaves.

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