rebelling against low expectations

Dear Teenager, Reject the Low Expectations You’ve Placed on Yourself


What do you want to accomplish in your lifetime?

Pause for a moment and think it through.

Maybe you thought, “Not that much,” or “I want to do a lot, but I don’t think I’ll actually be able to.” Very few will confidently think, “I’m going to do great things.”

While we need to cultivate humility, and while we should seek to be openhanded with our futures, the mindset that we shouldn’t expect to accomplish great things for God’s glory isn’t good.

So many teens and young adults automatically assume that their lives won’t be noteworthy. They won’t be doing the amazing things that end up in history books. Other people will, but not them. They’ll just settle for average.

It’s a mindset of low expectations, but not low expectations from other people—these low expectations come from us.

Should we be fine with being an “average” Christian? Should we expect to do great things, or should we content ourselves with less?

The answer is no, we shouldn’t settle for average, and yes, we should seek to do great things with our lives because God is able to use us in great ways—far greater than we may expect.

So, dear teenager, aim high.

It’s Not About You

In the book Redeeming Your Time, Jordan Raynor advises Christians to set “wildly audacious” goals for themselves. These goals go beyond what most of us consider to be achievable—William Wilberforce’s lifelong quest to eradicate slavery from England, for example.

His reasoning? We should never underestimate God’s power.

God is able to use you regardless of who you are. He's the One who gives us strength to do great things—He's the One who gives us anything. Share on X

God is able to use you regardless of who you are. He’s the One who gives us strength to do great things—He’s the One who gives us anything.

As Raynor writes, “When thinking about long-term goals, we are capable of accomplishing far more than we think—well, not us exactly, but God working through us,” (Redeeming Your Time, page 89).

When we underestimate what we can accomplish, we’re not being humble. We’re underestimating how much God is able to accomplish through us. Why would we doubt the ability of a God who, in the words of Ephesians 3:20, “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think”?

You might feel weak. Unqualified. Unable to be used by God in any significant way. But 1 Corinthians 1:27 tells us that, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.”

Do you believe that God isn’t able to use you?

The truth is that He is more than able. He’ll use you despite—or rather because of—your weaknesses.

Seeking to make an impact with your life isn’t about you. It’s about allowing God to show His power through you.

It’s about glorifying God. And God is able to glorify Himself through any one of us.

But Aren’t Small Things Valuable Too?

What about small hard things? Your everyday actions, your ordinary life done for God’s glory—isn’t that valuable?


You don’t need to go down in history to be a good Christian—I don’t mean to imply that at all. The apostle Paul himself tells us to “aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands,” (1 Thessalonians 4:11).

But if you’re thinking this gives you a free pass to settle for making a lesser impact or to avoid risking failure, you need to look at your motivations.

Why do you want to aim small? Is it because you see the incredible value of living quietly for the glory of God? Or is it because you’re afraid?

If it’s the second one, maybe you need to aim higher.

Aiming High Isn’t Aiming Big

In the book The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis writes of a woman named Sarah Smith. When Sarah Smith lived, she was an ordinary woman—quite ordinary, in fact. She never made the headlines. From the world’s perspective, she was quite unimportant.

But her love for others was so sacrificial and generous that it could only have come from God. And it touched people. Many people. Her life had an impact.

Aiming high doesn't always mean aiming big. Share on X

Aiming high doesn’t always mean aiming big. Wouldn’t it be amazing to live like Sarah Smith? Her life wasn’t big or flashy, but loving others like Christ loved us isn’t an easy task.

What if you challenged yourself to love like Christ did?

What if you aimed for a standard of excellence far above your peers?

What if you sought to spread the truth of God’s word to everyone, even when you’re afraid?

What if you made it your goal to do everything for the glory of God, no matter how insignificant it seems?

That’s aiming high. That’ll make an impact.

For God’s Glory, In God’s Strength

My challenge for you today is to think about what you want your future to look like and consider why you want it to look that way. Consider what your life could look like and what you could accomplish if you were to live not in your own strength, but instead, in humble reliance on Christ’s strength. Do you actually believe God can use you for great things? If not, why not?

Your life is not your own, but it’s been given to you for a reason –so that you might use it for God’s glory through God’s strength.

God can use you. God can do great things through you.

Are you going to let Him?

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About the author

Emma Thrasher

Emma Thrasher learned to read when she was three, learned the power of stories when she was 12, and decided to spend her life learning to tell them when she was 15. She loves how books help us understand life from another person's point of view, and wants her stories to make readers look beneath the surface. You can connect with her through her email list


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  • I love that you pointed out that aiming high doesn’t always mean aiming big! Some of the ways we can impact the world for Christ in the biggest way is through the small things.

  • Thank you so much for this post! I just got nominated for being on a missions council and it’s really intimidating. This article really helped cement the feeling I had to accept, and put my name forward to be a member of the council

  • Thank you for pointing this out! I love what you say about how “aiming high is not aiming big”. This was a message that I really needed right now–a lot of times I count myself just because I don’t think I’m capable of doing great things. I’m reminded that God can use anyone, including myself, to do great things–thank you!

By Emma Thrasher
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 →