I know what it’s like to feel small. Being entrepreneurial, I’ve never joined the staff of an established ministry. Instead, I’ve started new ministries which have started small.
The upside of starting from scratch is that I get to see God make something out of nothing. The downside is that I have often felt like a nothing until God creates something. (Which might be a good thing—to build humility.)
Do you feel small for some reason? If so, how do you overcome feeling inadequate, insufficient, unprepared, and ill-equipped when you are small? I’ve had to try to learn.
Here are 3 ways to be big in God’s Kingdom when you feel small:
01. Thank God that you feel small.
Do you feel small, weak, ineffective, incompetent, inadequate, understaffed, uninformed, unable? If so, congratulations, you’re a candidate for God’s powerful work through you.
So be thankful that you feel small.
Many times in Scripture God used leaders who felt small and inadequate.
Conversely, the Bible teaches that if you’re haughty, you’ll be humbled:
“God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5b KJV)“Those who honor themselves will be humbled, but people who humble themselves will be honored.” (Luke 14:11 GW)
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18 ESV)
Be grateful that when you feel small, you’re a candidate to be big in God’s Kingdom!
Scripture is clear that when I am weak, I am strong. The Apostle Paul testified:
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV)
Do you feel weak and small? Thank God for your feelings of inadequacy—they can trigger God’s powerful work through you.
02. Inventory your weaknesses so you can overcome them.
The Bible says that Christians are in a spiritual battle, see Ephesians 6:12.
One of the fundamental principles of waging battle is to know your enemy.
In the classic book The Art of War, Sun Tzu made this statement:
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
When we feel small, we must consider the same issues: know our enemy and know ourselves.
Our enemy = our challenges: financial, technical, staffing, relational, informational and so on.
Ourselves = our feelings of weakness, inadequacy, inability, ignorance, insufficiency and so on.
Often when we feel small we haven’t defined what our insufficiencies are. I’m suggesting that we define them by actually listing our weaknesses in both arenas:
What practical inadequacies we lack.
What emotional inadequacies we face.
The Bible teaches us to consider our practical inadequacies and count the cost: “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” (Luke 14:28-30 ESV)
We can count our practical inadequacies by listing:
The budget needed
The staff needed
The equipment needed
The expertise needed
The facilities needed
And so on
The Bible also teaches us to count our emotional inadequacies. The Apostle Paul “boasted” about his ministry milestones, but only because he had to. He said, “If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am.” (2 Corinthians 11:30 NLT)
We can count our emotional inadequacies by listing:
And so on
I’m not suggesting that you focus on your lack, but that you carefully consider needs so you can then overcome them.
Knowing what we are battling is the first step toward conquering them. Then we go to work on the inadequacies.
The Apostle Paul worked hard to overcome inadequacies saying “But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.” (1 Corinthians 15:10 NLT)
03. Step out in faith even when you feel weak, believing God to work mightily through you.
The Bible tells us how to evaluate ourselves: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” (Romans 12:3b NIV)
When we feel weak, this verse tells us to think both soberly and in faith.
Point 2 above tells how to think soberly. But how do we think in faith? Answer: We remember that God can use us immensely despite the fact that we feel small. Then we step out in faith trusting God to use us despite our weaknesses.
Are you aware that David was not the only giant-killer for Israel? So was Sibbecai: “And after this there arose war with the Philistines at Gezer. Then Sibbecai the Hushathite struck down Sippai, who was one of the descendants of the giants and the Philistines were subdued.” (1 Chronicles 20:4 ESV)
1 Chronicles 20:4-8 tells us of several more giants killed by David and his men. This passage shows us that you don’t have to be a David to make a big impact. It says that Sibbecai, Elhanan, and Jonathan the son of Shimea all defeated giants. They don’t get as much press as King David, but they, too, were giant killers.
Like David, these giant killers were normal-sized men. But they took on giants and won!
All of us can be giant killers for God’s Kingdom if we step out in faith even though we may feel small.
When the church of 200 people I led daughtered a church of 200, we doubled overnight. As that daughter church has grown, it has multiplied the size of the mother church many times over.
When my church of 200 birthed a different church of 15, the impact seemed minimal. But that church, in a small, remote community, has grown to equal the size of the mother church. It has become big in God’s Kingdom.
Too many Christians want to be a Goliath and not a David, Sibbecai, Elhanan or Jonathan. But let’s remember who won those skirmishes and that we can be big in God’s Kingdom even when we feel small.
For more help, here are other articles I’ve written on humility, pride, and confidence:
Video: Have You Been Pecked At?