rebelling against low expectations

How 5 Minutes Can Change Someone’s Life


It’s a constant surprise to me how much small things can make such a big difference.

I can think of a hundred different times when someone offering to get my coffee, someone helping me with my kids, or someone following up with me after an event has made a supernova of gratitude and thankfulness explode through me.

All these small things take seconds, but I know a lot of them have changed me and allowed me to see past my own pain to the bigger vision God has for my life.

I can think of one instance in particular.

At the end of my high school years, I had a friend, Sam, who told me he was an atheist.

We talked through some of his questions, and at the end of what had become one of the most interesting conversations of my life, he told me his verdict: he was still an atheist.

It was crushing to me because I had really done my best and worked hard to give the truth. Yet it had amounted to nothing changing.

It was at that moment I had a bit of a surprise answer to an unspoken prayer.

After I confessed to Eric, one of Sam’s friends, that I didn’t think anything I had done had made a difference, he told me that wasn’t true.

Eric assured me that Sam had told him he’d learned a lot from me.

I was shocked, because it didn’t seem like I had done a good enough job.

In fact, while I had grown up in the church, I had failed God miserably.

And though the years have passed, my small offerings on the Christian faith still might make some difference.

I might never know that, but I do know what made a difference to me.

Eric and I were not close friends, and he was pretty popular (whereas I was the shy girl who was smart and the teacher’s pet type.)

He did not have to talk to me. He did not have to do anything for me.

He owed me nothing in any sense that friendship, peer politics, or even faith would have prompted him to tell me that small kindness of talking to me, post-verdict, and letting me hear the news I had made a difference, even if it wasn’t the one I had been hoping for.

Eric’s talk made a deep imprint in my memory that day.

Sometimes when I think I’m failing as a Christian, I think of that moment and receive its comfort all over again.

What happened in the span of maybe five minutes has echoed again and again in my life.

I know a lot of people might look at The Rebelution and see “Do Hard Things” and think that means big things.

But “hard” and “small” tasks don’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive.

Small moments have everlasting consequences.

Small deeds can make big differences to the people who see nothing but trouble.

Small things can make big hearts swell, big egos smash, and big deals break through.

Small prayers can package the biggest faith.

Do something small today for God.

You might not see what a difference it makes in this world. You might not get a standing ovation.

You might not feel important to the world.

But doing something small might just make all the difference in the world.

So do something small to make the world a better place, even if it is a small thing. In fact, do something small today especially if it is small.

You never know who might need it, and in what ways it could help them see God better.

And it just might make you see the “small things” in your own life in a different light.

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Photo courtesy of Amanda Tipton and Flickr Creative Commons.


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About the author

C.S. Johnson

is the author of several novels, including the Starlight Chronicles series and the Once Upon a Princess saga for young adults. With a gift of sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.


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  • This is so true! I’ve been realizing recently how very small things have impacted my life. A gift card given to me for my birthday that allowed me to take a friend out to lunch and have a conversation that helped me make an important decision. A book someone let me borrow that impacted the way I thought about a particular subject.

    Small things make a big difference. In the words of an old hymn, “Deeds of merit as we thought them, He will tell us were but sin. Little things we had forgotten, He will tell us were for Him.”

    Thanks for the encouraging post, CS!

  • This testimony is the foundation to great evangelization! Keep humble and never give up as it is all for Christ.

    Galatians 6:9-10 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

    God’s unfailing grace and blessings to you.

    Mrs. Jean

  • This is so very true and real. I’ve really realized this lately from looking back at my own life. I was the only middle-school girl in my youth group, and I was scared and felt like I didn’t fit in. I dreaded going to youth. There was an older high school girl in the group, though, who always took time to include me and ask how I was doing. Now I’m that older high school girl in my youth group. When I see the nervous sixth-graders come in, I make a point to go up and talk to them, because I remember how much that other girl impacted my life just by taking two minutes out of her evening to notice me and smile. 🙂

    • This is so true. Even now I still remember the “older kids” who went out of their way to talk to me and treat me like an equal. 🙂 I strive to be one of those people in my everyday life.

  • Amen! I have found that the small things can be the most impactful–a hug, a text message, an email, a smile. Holy Spirit works in these moments!

  • That is true life can change in the blink of an eye. My friends mom knew this guy who went to the basketball games at my friends school to watch his daughter play and my friends mom would talk to him every tuesday. She talked to him this last tuesday and he died in a car wreck the next day on the way to work. I have been reading the rebelution for a year but have never been able to post on my phone. Now I have a computer to use so I can finally respond it makes me so happy.

  • Excellent! Not much else to say because it’s all been summed up already, but very well said and a good reminder. Thanks

By C.S. Johnson
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →