rebelling against low expectations

When Bigger Isn’t Better


Amy Carmichael began her mission work at seventeen among the poor neighborhood girls. Christina DeMari moved to the Philippines at nineteen, where she worked for several years to spread the gospel to the most remote parts of the land.

These women, and countless others like them, are so inspiring. Yet when I read about them, I become discontent with my own life. I’m a senior in high school, I have a preschool-aged sister, and my mother has some health issues which means I spend a lot of time helping at home. I’m kinda limited in opportunities to do those grand things, much as I desperately long to. I want to be used, I want to make a difference, I want to do all these great things for God.

And then I realized that I’m still thinking that grace, salvation, and love is earned. After all, ministering to hundreds in some poor, remote country surely counts for more than playing tag with my little sister, doesn’t it? I want to do the “big things” while overlooking the “little things” that I have been given to do. I seem to think that if I do something great and wonderful like that, then God will be more pleased with me, He’ll love me more, or I’ll be more worthy of His love.

That’s a crippling mindset! And during my devotions today, I realized something: What was Jesus doing for thirty years before He began His ministry? We’re told that he grew and matured, and that he was simply living in Nazareth. That’s it. There is no record of what He did, which probably means we wouldn’t consider His actions particularly noteworthy. He lived obediently, He grew and studied and learned the Scriptures, He took care of His family, and I’m sure He applied Himself to become the best carpenter He could be.

If Jesus was pleasing God by spending thirty years of His life doing nothing particularly earth-shattering, but simply serving those around Him and learning and growing, who am I to look down on that kind of life? He spent ten times as many years living that kind of simple life as He did in public ministry. God does not require the same things at the same time from everyone. And while I am never to stop looking for ways to serve and love, He is not asking me right now to do something I would consider “big”. He didn’t love Amy Carmichael any more than He loved the criminal who turned to Him on the cross. And He can’t love me more if I’m doing something else than He does as I’m trying to study, learn, and serve.

All He wants me to do is love Him. He asks me to be faithful in what He’s given me, no matter how pointless or insignificant it may seem. I am just to do as He asks and not fret because I want someone else’s portion instead.

Of course, just to make it abundantly clear: I’m certainly not saying to avoid great opportunities, or avoid stepping out in faith to do things even with your limitations. For me, right now, these kinds of amazing international things just aren’t happening. Thus, He has been teaching me that there is no shame in living the quieter life; no shame in blooming where He’s planted me.

What do you think? // Visit Megan’s Blog

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • Amen! Let God’s grace be enough for us! I feel ya, and I encourage you – in time God will help us air J for Jesus! In the words of my homeboy Flame, hold on – He’s strong, coz our God is a beast! (Not “the beast” lol)

  • Thanks for the great post Megan!

    God has been teaching me the same thing lately…..everything we do(no matter how big or small) can be done for God! ๐Ÿ™‚

    God Bless!!

  • Wow. That hit home. I’ve been struggling with this for at least a year now. I have a strong passion to do “big” things for God, but He has not opened any doors leading to such things. But I have to remember that nothing is big or small to Him. We are His, and we seek Him and follow Him no matter what He asks of us – even when doing the “hard” thing is living what we see as “average.” No part of His will is ever average.

    Thanks so much for this post and the encouragement it has given me!
    God bless!

  • Absolutely true. Zach writes about this in his new book (Lose Your Cool) — he talks about the difference between doing something “big” and something “significant.” Obedience is significant – no matter how “small” the act may appear.

  • What a great encouragement! I love what you said about how Jesus was faithful in the small things before He did the big things! And since we are called to be like Christ, we are called to be faithful in even the smallest things, things that most people would find unimportant. You know what I’ve learned, everything we do, no matter how big or small, we must do it with the right attitude!

    Anyway, that is a great post! I love reading these! They just really encourage me! God is really using this site! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Thank you for posting this truth that we can so easily forget. It’s great encouragement to me on this day. God bless!

  • You make a great point Megan! I’ve struggled with that as well, its hard to be content in the small things. but they are just as important as the big things ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Definitely right. Thanks for posting. We often forget that little things matter as well as the big ones. Thanks for reminding us! Good post.

  • I know exactly how you feel! I am the oldest of eight. My mom suffers from a sort of health issue, as well as my sister. I wind up helping at home, but I’ve certainly learned to love it!! ๐Ÿ™‚
    ~Kay Morris

  • AMEN! ๐Ÿ˜€ Thank you, Megan, for sharing what the Lord has been teaching you. I struggle with ‘the little things’ as well (I’m sure we all do). I am so thankful that “God does not require the same things at the same time from everyone”.

  • Excellent post, Megan! I’ve had to learn (and continue to learn) this same thing. How different God’s perspective is from our human one. =)

    God bless you as you serve faithfully!!

  • Wow Megan! That really hit home! I am struggling with this as well, sometimes it seems so difficult to balance our time between “big things” and all important family time. But family is so important because in the end you couldn’t have done any of the “big things” without them.

    Thanks again!

    Alex and Brett: Thank you for including these guest posts, hearing from fellow rebelutionaries is always encouraging!

  • Once again G-d has given me the right word at the right time! Thank you Megan! Such a wonderfully refreshing and encouraging post.

  • Wow…this really spoke to me. My mother too has health issues and even though I know its important for me to be available to help her during my years at home, I sometimes struggle with the desire to go out and do something “bigger”. I have to constantly remind myself that the things God has called me to do right now at home ARE the big things. Thanks for yet another wonderful reminder! God bless, Chelsea

  • I can completely relate to this! Right now I just feel like…God has put me on hold while other people are doing great stuff. I’m kind of just sitting on the sidelines waiting for the next play. But that so isn’t true. I’m so glad you shared this Megan! It really has helped me a lot. God is working through and in my life whether I see where or not. I just have to trust in Him and it will all turn out the way He needs it too.

  • I completely agree! ๐Ÿ™‚
    I have been encouraged by remembering that doing hard things doesn’t necessarily mean doing something big, earth-shattering, and life changing. Doing hard things could mean blooming where you’re planted, working on a sin area in your life, or growing in having a heart to serve. Thanks, Megan, for helping us remember that if we just take what God gives us and excel and do our best in it, that’s doing hard things.

  • Yes, this is definitely something I have been learning recently too. This was a great encouragement, Megan! God bless you as you seek to serve Him in all things!!

  • Thank you for this post Megan! I understand what your going through- I’m going through the same. I can’t thank you enough for what you said above because I’ve been struggling bitterly with it. I feel so stuck and unable to make a change- and then here comes this wonderful guest post. It was a wonderful encouragement to me.

  • Well said Megan!
    Sometimes the hardest things to do are the daily, mundane, seemingly insignificant things. Jesus said ‘Whatever you did to the least of these, you did also to me’. Serving your mom and your little sister IS a GREAT THING!

  • alex and brett-
    i just wanted to let you know that im reading your book right now. it is well written and very good. i think its cool that you guys have a passion for what your doing. its awesome to finally have a book that makes sense and written by people who have something in common with use- our age! some older people who write books for us may not realize what we realize. they may not see eye to eye with us. but thats a-ok! i hope u have great success in getting your word around!
    God bless you and your works!

  • This ties in exactly with what I was thinking this very morning after reading the post about Zac Sunderland! The magazine cover asked- “What were you doing when you were 17?”. My answer was a kinda gloomy “studying”, although I knew it was a season in my life, one of study. “Maybe when I’m 18…”, which showed I needed this reminder)

    I especially appreciated the point Megan made about “After all, ministering to hundreds in some poor, remote country surely counts for more than playing tag with my little sister, doesnโ€™t it?”. Serving God where you are called is the point, not serving God in a “big” way.

    Thank you very much for this very timely reminder, Megan.

  • That is so true, I totaly agree with you Megan!
    That’s an excelent post and very eye-opening!
    Thanks for sharing! =)

  • So true. i have a daughter with special needs and gave up a HUGE life full of BIG plans to care for her. Through daily life, the small things, i have encountered the grace and power of a living, loving God. As we come and go at Wal-Mart or the gas station, people notice us so we pray that we may be the aroma of Christ, a witness to His power in brokeness wherever we go, in whatever we are doing and He has honored that greatly.

  • That was something I needed to hear. I have been thinking about that a lot lately. I am in a situation similair to Megan’s and sometimes it is easy to be discontented where I am now. Especially when I read stories like Zac Sunderland. It makes me want to go make a huge impact on the world, and right now, that isn’t an option. Anyway, thank you so much for this article! Ann

  • I got on the computer after a long day of serving in a very insignificant way, and that was just what I needed to read. Thank you so much.

  • Thanks so much for the reminder! It is so easy for me to loose sight of the fact that God calls us to the little things just as much as the big things. This summer Iโ€™m working at a camp and it is so easy sometimes to get focused on the ‘big picture’ of getting through one week of camp and forget to love on the kids and show them the love of Christ.

    Thanks again for the thoughts and God Bless!

  • Thank you. I am in my 50s and needed to be reminded of the valuable trait of faithfulness in your calling, however menial and mundane it may seem to be.

  • Thank you so much for posting this! I was having trouble earlier today feeling I wasn’t doing enough for God because I’m working a summer job and not going on a missions trip or doing something huge but I know this is where God wants me to be this summer and God can use me in both big and small ways! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I appreciated your post, Megan. God has called me also to live a quieter life, primarily serving my family and working in my family’s home business. My days don’t always seem “great” and “world-changing” but I know that God is using them to challenge me and to prepare me for my future (my greatest desire is to marry the right man and raise godly children).

    God bless you in what God has given you to do. May you bloom beautifully where He has planted you. *smile*

    From a sister in Christ in wee New Zealand

  • Bless your heart Megan! May this truth be emblazened on your heart, it will serve you well throughout your life. For what it’s worth, God used you today in my life, and judging from all the posts ahead of mine, many others too, and that’s pretty huge!

  • Megan,
    This was beautifully written. You have a talent for putting your experiences into words that create pictures and give us food for thought. Thank you, and how about some water balloons for you and your little sis:)

  • Thank you for this great reminder, Meagan! Our own “hard things” will be different than those of others, and especially during different seasons of life. God bless you as you continue doing a great work serving at home!

  • Amen!! For weeks God has been consistently sending me this message. It must be God, right? I’ve read about this point on several blogs, in multiple, and just plain ‘thought of it myself’!

    Thanks Megan for articulating it so well. May we always remember to focus on the mission God has put in our laps and not wish for one on the other side of the world!

    In Christ-
    Jordan Elizabeth

  • You are so right Megan! We can not over look all of the “little things” in our lives.
    Many of us can not go to other places, but that can not stop us from doing hard things.
    It can be hard to play with a sibling or stay home to help clean the house. I was very touched by your artical. I pray that God would bless you In more ways than you ever

  • You’ve really said what I wanted to here… Just because we don’t do big things to serve God doesn’t mean the “little things” aren’t serving him. Thanks Megan!!

  • Wow, that was great. My dad and I just had a conversation about that very same thing not too long ago and it really helped me focus and get back on track.

  • WOW! I’m so glad you wrote this Megan! Your words have been a great encouragement! Thanks A Bunch!

  • Wonderful! This is something I’ve been needing to hear.(again :))

    Almost every year I go on a mission’s trip with my church, but this year I opted out so I could go to a Christian ballet camp. I’ve been feeling a little bit down because I am thinking that I will not be serving the Lord as well this year, and maybe I should haven’t signed up for the camp at all. But this post is a great reminder that wherever I am I should “bloom where I am planted”

    Thank you Megan,


  • I could not have read this at a better time. It is SO easy to get caught up in the mindset that God is most glorified through big work that is spread over the nations. Thanks for posting this and reminding me how far from the truth that is.

  • Megan, i wanted to thank you for your willingness to serve the Lord by sharing with us what he has been revealing to you. Like many others who have also commented, this post seems to have been a “God thing” for me to come across bc I have been struggling with this same thing for the past 6 months or so. I just graduated from high school, and things aren’t working out the way I thought God was directing me…
    So what do you do with all the pent up desire? I understand that maybe this is just the season God wants me in right now, but my heart just aches to go, to do! I mean, doesn’t God give us the desires of our hearts? and with that, if we are “in line” with God and following him, then don’t our desires become His desires? I just don’t know what to do with all my passion right now. Meanwhile, I just get frustrated that doors won’t open up for me! Ecclesiastes tells us that everything is made perfect in its time, but what do you do in the Meantime, while you wait?

  • Megan,

    What an encouragement it is to know that not only are you passionate about doing great things for God, but also patient in simply serving and, like you said, ‘blooming where you are planted’. Just today I was talking to an adult I respect about the same thing. When you’re so excited about something, but can’t seem to find the way to express it, it really becomes difficult to know how to deal with it.

    I know, though, that everything I do know is preparation for something greater yet to come. I wonder how many things we see evidence of in Jesus’ ministry actually stem from something he learnt when he was a child. Most, if not all, I suppose.

    Be blessed, and thanks for your encouragement and timely words.

  • Hi Megan! Thank you so much for sharing this. I know for me, as well as a lot of other teens, we usually don’t want to hear this because we wan to be used for something great. This was really eye opening and I praise God that He spoke through you to touch all of us Rebelutionaries.

    Keep following Him!


  • Wow! God must have really known what He was talking about when He mentioned “divine timing”. When I woke up this morning I was so ready to serve and be a light for God. My prayer lately has been for God to use me. I’m 13 and I’m so ready to do something big that I too forgot how little things can go a long way. This is my first time on this web sight, but my teacher has been reading us “Do Hard Things” in class. Anyway… So as I was praying and asking God, for the 1 millionth this month, to use me I got no reply. I couldn’t hear God. I began to fret and was wondering if there was some sin that was separating me from God. Turns out He wanted me to do more than just talk to Him. As I got in to the word and began reading in Romans, I saw there was a footnote (I love them!), so I flipped to Habakkuk and read from the verse that the footnotes gave (about just living). As I usually do, I began to read somewhere else, but still in Habakkuk, and instead of reading about just living I found myself in the area of how God would punish the wicked. Ok?!? I still read on… things got intense… towards the end of that bundle of passages, the Bible spoke about the time when God would come into earth and scorch the wicked out. Ok?!? CREEPY! As I yet read on the verses became more encouraging. I came to Habakkuk 3:17… Oh, so these verses made sense. God just wants me to be patient and wait and suffer for His glory. Long story short, lately a lot of bad things are happening to the “good” people around me and in my church. I don’t know exactly why, but the verses i read can sure be applied! Your blog fits in really well too. Thnx Megan, reading your words of encouragement helped me digest all of this a lot easier than I was before.
    Lots of luv-

  • Wow. What you said is so true. I have been going through this dilema that I want to do more, but don’t know what and am feeling useless. I have indeed begun learning to live a quiet and simple life and not be bombarded with a million things to do, places to go, and people to entertain. Your message has been so encouraging to me. Praise the Lord!!! May He bless you and keep you.

    Always in Christ

  • This is such an encouragement! I’ve been having the same symptoms lately and this is a well needed “pep talk.” Thank you so much! God bless!

    Serving together,

  • Great Megan!
    I’m a mom checking out this site. Just finished reading “Do Hard Things”. I am so encouraged by all of you. This is a place I would love my 13 and 14 year old girls to spend some time. Wanting to hear more in DC in September!
    Great thoughts Megan. The small things are SO important. They will always be there. I’ve lived in Kenya while single and in the inner city while married, doing big things, but the small things were always there.
    Stay faithful in whatever Gad has you in for the moment. Choose to be content.
    I’ll sign out and read, rather that post, in the future. Keep encouraging each other. Your relationships with God and each other are what will keep reminding you of the truth!!

  • Wow. Thank you so much for that Megan! That really hit home. I needed it!
    Will be thinking about all you’ve said, you are so right! Thank you again ๐Ÿ˜€

  • That was an amazing article! Thank you so much! It helped me a lot. I have been wanting to do a project for a long time and some things have come up and i cant do it as fast as i would like to. In my period of waiting what you said will be very helpful! Thanks again!

  • Meagan,
    Your article touched me exactly where I am. I am doing nothing earth shattering, and I don’t have fame or fortune with through which to minister. But I am living actively serving my church, my family, friends, and looking into the face of God. Yes I long for the big things, but they are most likely for later in my life. Like Christ, I must learn to be faithful in small things before great ones. Thanks for reminding me of that!

  • Thanks so much! It helps to be reminded that the small things we do for God count just as much in God’s eyes as the big things.

  • That was mind blowing for me! I’m always worrying if I’m in the right place, and thinking I need to do more for my higher education, etc. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

  • First of all, thank you guys for all the encouraging comments. I’m so glad God was able to use my small words to bless you.

    Rachel ~

    You asked what to “do in the meantime”, what to do with the pent-up ache. I can’t really say; I’m not an expert in this at all, and I’m struggling with it too. But I believe that we are not to give up our dreams or desires of serving God in big ways, and perhaps we should even keep bringing it up with God – is it time yet? – and such. But instead of fretting, I think He wants us to be content with where He’s put us and work actively to serve Him in the small things, recognizing that they have worth and are not simply killing time.

  • That was really good. I’m glad God led you to address something that so many of us are struggling with.

  • Megan, I looove this! I’ve written a piece about this same topic! I’ve been going through the same things. I’m also helping my Mom a lot, and I’m glad I’m not the only one!
    Thank you so much for sharing!

  • In this life we cannot always do great things. But we can do small things with great love.
    (paraphrased from Mother Teresa)

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  • Hey just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your content seem to be running off the screen in Safari. I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know. The design and style look great though! Hope you get the issue solved soon. Cheers

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectationsโ€”a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More โ†’