Our generation of women grew up hearing we could be anything we wanted to be. Social media gives us a front row seat to the success of others, and we desperately try to keep up with the elusive finish line of success and “making it.” We dream. We plan and plot ways to start blogs, businesses, ministries, and YouTube channels. As a result, we are really discontent in being small. Dare I say it? Ordinary. The worst part of it is that we feel like we’re failing God by not having a million followers or not becoming a world renowned speaker/writer/artist/businesswoman/girl boss by the age of 30.
I will always be the person who encourages you to dream big and pray even bigger. But, I will also tell you that even the most famous of people that you admire started small. There are many people whose names you won’t ever know, but who acquired a greater treasure in heaven than any of those same famous people you dream of becoming like.
For many are called, but few are chosen. –Matthew 22:14
In my opinion, accepting that you may forever be “small” in your calling, career, or life is the most humbling yet beautiful, experience. When everyone around you is trying to outshine and outshout each other, and you’re okay remaining in the background. When the world around you shouts “Look at me!” and your quiet confidence says, “Look at Him.” When people tell you could have done so much more than be a stay at home or choose a life of service instead of one of wealth or fame. When you do the right thing, even when no one is looking, because you’re the same person in private as you are in public. When God calls you to be an assistant – even though you dreamed of being the CEO – yet, you’re the most hard working and joyful assistant anyone has ever met.
To the world, that is staying small, but to the Lord? It is a beginning, tinged with obedience and humility, rooted in the knowledge that we are not created to make our own names known, but bring all the glory to Him in all that we do.
I want to tell you about a shepherd who spent his days herding sheep and tending sycamore-fig trees in the Judean countryside. He was about as “ordinary” as it gets – no education, no wealth, no influence or even a special pedigree (Amos 7:15). But one day, God gave this man a vision of the future for His people and said, “Go, tell them what I showed you.” And he did. Amos traveled to Israel, and began prophesying and pronouncing God’s judgment upon the Northern Kingdom, for their complacency, idolatry and oppression of the poor. All the while, his audience was living a life of wealth, peace, and prosperity.
When you study your Bible, you’ll learn this is a pretty “standard” template for our God. Like when He took another shepherd boy and used him to take down a giant, made him into a military hero and finally, a king for His people. Another time, He took a poor orphan girl living in captivity and made her queen so that she could play a role in rescuing His people. Or when he took a murdering, stuttering outcast and told him to lead God’s people out of Egypt to the Promised Land. Elisha was working at the plough when he was called to become a prophet. The disciples and apostles were fishermen, tent makers, and tax collectors. Mary was a nobody girl who gave birth and raised the son of God.
All of these people were ordinary by the world’s standard, until God chose them to do the extraordinary. It was never about them, but about achieving a part of God’s plan for His people and always to glorify God’s name. If you study each of these people, you’ll learn that the special thing they all had in common is that they were okay being “small,” even when God was using them to do big things. They knew who they were and their human limitations, and that God was greater.
Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. For through I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me. –2 Corinthians 12:5-6
The truth is, you may reach that place of truly being content in staying small – whether it’s accepting that you’ll never be a wife or mother; or finding joy in the job the Lord has you doing even though you always dreamed of doing something else entirely; or if you become okay with having 28 followers of your blog/music/writing while your “competitors” have millions. But, that does not automatically mean, God will see that and give you an extraordinary calling, fame, wealth or acknowledgement by the world.
That’s a common myth among Christians. I’ve heard it so many times: “Once you give up your dream of getting married or become truly content in your singleness, God will give you a husband right away.” Or whatever variation of this that people try to use to pacify you and make you feel okay about not achieving or having something.
But, for as many extraordinary stories we read in the Bible, there are hundreds more that remain unknown. Characters that are unnamed in this world, and only known by God alone. In reality, most of us will be the latter. The world can hold only so many girl bosses, millionaires, chart topping artists and New York Times Bestsellers in each generation. Someone still has to be those people’s assistant, janitor or maid, drive thru server, accountant or whatever other position you may be viewing today as ordinary or small.
No amount of human effort or will can ever give someone a calling or have the kind of influence and power like a person sanctified and called by God. The Lord is the ultimate giver of callings. Many are called to the wedding feast, but few have the wedding-garment, the righteousness of Christ, the sanctification of the Spirit.
We don’t have control over these things. There is no application process and even the most faith filled prayer cannot force God’s hand to bend to our selfish ambitions to be known and recognized by the hallmarks of this world…even if we say we want it for His glory.
For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. –2 Peter 1:21
Girl, pray the big prayers. Ask for the impossible. Believe in miracles and in extraordinary callings. Strive for greatness. But in all of this, stay small, bow low, and clothe yourself in humility. Because you may be just an ordinary shepherd, and one day, God may give you a vision and a word and take you to the White House, to the top of the best sellers list, to international audiences, to the darkest and most impoverished areas of the world, or the executive offices of Fortune 50o companies.
There is nothing bad about being a girl boss, or wanting/working towards becoming one, but make sure you do it because God chose you to do that, not because the world tells you that you should.
But He may also very well ask you to spend all your days in the every day acts of service: to only have a handful of followers, to wipe runny noses and change diapers, to answer phones for someone else, or just be a nobody and a wallflower. To the world, it is ordinary, but to God, it can be extraordinary and extremely precious. The world may never know your name, but it is engraved on the palms of His hands (Is. 49:16) and written in the book of Life (Rev. 3:5, 20:12, Malachi 3:16).
Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. –Luke 10:20
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