rebelling against low expectations

Your Permission to Dream Small: It’s Not Always About Big Things


“So, what do you want to do after high school?” I asked my co-worker as we sat at the edge of the courtyard, our backs against the cold concrete wall. It was a hot summer day and cooling off in the shade was the perfect thing to do after a Wednesday at day camp. The last few children that hadn’t been picked up yet scampered around, playing four square or catch.

“Well,” she said, “I want to be a mom.” Her eyes were also following the children. “And maybe a writer. I’d also like to get involved in ministry.” She paused. “But mainly be a mom.”

I was quiet. After countless change-the-world and become-famous answers from my peers, this one was so refreshing.

A Loud Message

The message is everywhere: Make yourself a name that is known by the world. The bigger, the better. We’ve all heard it. Seen it. Believed it.

Dream big. Go further than yourself. Reach for the stars. The slogans are countless. It’s impossible to miss it.

Even the simple question (that so many people dread – yes, I did too), “What do you want to do when you’re older?” is bound to get a few frowns if you don’t have a big career plan mapped out.

A False Identity

A problem with the get-your-fame idea is that it encourages us to place our identity in what we do and what we achieve.

But that’s not who you are. You are not what you do. You are not what you achieve. You are who you were made to be. Click To Tweet

We need to stop trying to make our names known. Instead, we need to go to the One who knows our name and sees the little things. El Roi, the God who sees. The God who sees you. And if you know that truth, you will realize that the only thing that matters in life is what He wants.

What Jesus Did

I used to love those armbands that had WWJD (what would Jesus do) on them. I thought it could be used as an excellent reminder to act the right way in certain situations. But then, I realized that that could have been the wrong way of thinking.

Instead of creating a hypothetical situation about what Jesus might have done, I really just had to open my Bible to see what He did do. One of the most deciding evenings in Jesus’ life was the time He spent with His disciples just before He died.

That night, He said a lot of key things. But He also did a lot of key things. One of these is that He washed His disciples’ feet. This was the task of the lowest-of-low servants, slaves. And Jesus did it. Even though He could have been out there, healing people, doing something “big,” something “important,” He instead decided to kneel and wash feet.

It was a low thing to do, but it had a lot of meaning. Because in that situation, it was the right thing to do.

Dream Small

Maybe, right now, God wants me to go and chase big dreams. I do believe that there is a time and a place for those big dreams, as long as my heart and motives are in the right place. Or maybe, right now, He wants me to put away distractions, put away me, and go play with my sister. Go do something that no one will ever hear about. Something that will not make the headlines. Something that is not memoir-worthy.

What it comes down to is a shift of focus. It’s no longer about me. It’s about Him. Click To Tweet And yes, in the world’s eyes, these things may seem small or insignificant…but that’s okay.

Because in a world that screams at you to become known, remember that you are already known. Dear friend, this is your permission to dream small.

Editor’s Note: this article was originally published on July 5th, 2021.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the author

Sarah Susanna Rhomberg

is a teen who lives in Europe and is fluent in both English and German. When not writing, you will often find her reading or working on the organization of a camp for children – always with a mug of herbal tea at hand. Sarah wants to live her life for Christ and writes to glorify Him. Connect with her through her email list here.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Thank you for writing this article! As high school students we feel like we have to have our entire lives mapped out when in reality we don’t because of Jesus who has it all in His hands. Thanks for reminding us that the little things matter not just the big things!

  • Wow! I love this powerful reminder that the small things are just as important as the big. Thank you so much for writing this!

  • Wow. Just wow.
    Thank you. I’m always so stressed about doing “big things” with my writing that I end up pushing aside the little things in my life. Thank you for this. I needed it.

  • hi! lovely article <3 i agree with Summer – as a teen, people are constantly asking what i wanna do. i honestly don't know – i just know i wanna be a wife and mom. i would love to pursue music and writing, but i'm still trying to figure it all out. thanks for this awesome article! it's important to remind yourself that you don't have to have everything figured out because God knows exactly what your future is, and to dream about the little things as well as the bigger ones.

    • Hey Lila! I am totally on the same page as you! I want to be a wife and mom while also maybe pursuing art/writing and get frustrated at how this culture thinks you’re wasting your life when in reality you are raising up Christ followers and people who can have an eternity with Jesus! I don’t know really what I’m going to do in life and it’s an uncertain place to be, but we can trust that following God’s will is when we’ll be happiest!!

  • Oh my goodness this article was so true! As a highschooler, I feel like a lot of people ask me: “What are you doing after high school?” and I know what I want to do after high school: I want to be an author and a wife and a mother. Most of the time when I say this, the conversation dies there. Like I said the wrong thing or will change my mind soon.
    Alex and Brett and Sara and other rebelutionaries remind us again and again to do hard things. however, our culture is telling us that we should do big things like go to the best college and get the best job and the best car and so on and so forth.
    But big things are not the same as hard things.
    Being faithful in the little things is such a blessing. Sarah thank you so much for this article– such a great reminder! <3

  • This article is amazing. It is so true that you don’t need to do something big in life to be an important person. No matter what you do you are always important to God. And people might not always support what you are doing either but if it is something you really want to do, go for it and don’t let other people stop you.

  • Thank you, Sarah, that was exactly what I needed to hear! I always say I want to be a farmer, but that is definitely not as important to me as being a wife and mother. One of the hardest parts about wanting to get married and have kids is that there’s no way I can speed up the process or work for it. I just need to wait on God until he provides.
    Bonus quote about prayer my brother shared with me:
    “American culture is probably the hardest place in the world to learn to pray. We are so busy that when we slow down to pray, we find it uncomfortable. We prize accomplishments, production. But prayer is nothing but talking to God. It feels useless, as if we are wasting time. Every bone in our bodies screams, ‘Get to work.'”-Paul Miller

  • This is so refreshing! It really is so true. I love the way you put it too. “This is your permission to dream small.” Thank you!

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 →