Sometimes I Feel So Insignificant

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I read a sign the other day:

“No lives matter. The universe doesn’t give a s*** about any of you”

In other words, in the universe we are rather insignificant as a planet and a race … and you and I are definitely insignificant as individuals

At times I think that just may be true

At times I feel insignificant

At times I think of all the rushing around and the activities I get involved in and how, in the long run, they just might be seriously insignificant – not ever amounting to anything important

And, at times I wonder what difference the church – this church, any church – is making if any

Is anything we are doing having a significant impact on anyone?

The question: Am I – are we – really making a difference in the world 

Feeling insignificant is the same, in my mind, as feeling “small” 

As I was working through this recurring feeling I ran across Paul’s comment in 2 Corinthians 6:12 (MSG) 

“We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you.Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way.”

And, in my reading a comment by Benjamin Disraeli – British Prime Minister in the late 1800’s…

“Life is too short to be little.”

As I got to thinking about this feeling of being insignificant – small (little) in my own eyes and maybe in the eyes of a world that worships bigness – success, influence, money, power, position, popularity…

I realized that Jesus compared the Kingdom of God – which is seriously big and powerful – to several very small and insignificant items in the average household

Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed that grows remarkably expansive branches (Mark 4:30-34)

He also compared the Kingdom to yeast (Matthew 13:33) – a kitchen staple used in both New Testament times and today

Yeast looks so insignificant sitting in the pantry that you might assume it’s nothing but dust — unless you understand its value to baking

There are at least three different ways we can look at Jesus’ teaching on both the mustard seed and yeast

1> We realize such objects have very little weight or density — and thus are negligible (small, insignificant) in size

2> They are minor in terms of their relative value, since both are so common and inexpensive

A small bag of yeast seems pretty trivial when compared to a small bag of gold dust

A tiny diamond is far more costly than a mustard seed

Both yeast and mustard seeds are quite insignificant from a size and superficial value point of view

However, mustard seeds and yeast share a third commonality, which is the very reason Jesus teaches about them:

3> They both have a momentous (powerful, phenomenal) impact when activated. Their potential far exceeds their appearance

And, the same is true of the Kingdom, the Church, and each of us as believers when we “open up our lives … when we live openly and expansively!

2 Corinthians 6:12-13 MSG “We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!”

As Christians we should not apologize for small things which seem insignificant

As Christians we must recognize that it is the nature of God to use small and apparently insignificant things for His glory

And that He often employs people and things that are overlooked by the world for Kingdom impact

So, why then do we, as believers, seem to consistently devalue the small and overly celebrate the large?

Large churches with amazing facilities

Leaders who are obviously successful as they have large churches, television ministries, and a huge following

The current trend or most recent bandwagon in the Christian world

A conversation one evening this week with someone who was once in leadership in a church I pastored

After mentioning the church he now attends (large) and the ministries he follows on-line (big and popular) and the prophetic words currently out there on the worldwide web (supposedly significant at least in his mind) …

After mentioning all these large and very public ministries he asked me what I thought God was doing in the world today

I responded by quoting Hebrews 12:25-27 MSG “ So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words … ‘One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern.’ The phrase ‘one last shaking’ means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered’”

He literally and obviously wrote my comment off because it was not spectacular, prophetic in a new revelation sense, but just good, old Bible

It was obvious that he considered what I said as insignificant and not worth pondering

And, it left me with the feeling of being personally insignificant because I don’t have a visible, powerful, well-known public ministry … I am just one of the little guys

The feeling as he abruptly left was “So, what am I, chopped liver?”

It seems that in North America and even around the world we tend to view small things as insignificant

Scripture, however, turns that perspective on its head

In fact, the Bible repeatedly shows how God uses minor things to make a major impact

Jesus used seemingly unimportant objects — like a mustard seed and yeast — to demonstrate the potency of supposedly insignificant and inconsequential things

So, why then do we, as believers, seem to consistently devalue the small and overly celebrate the large?

Ultimately, it is because we have become driven by our society’s idea about church and culture

Driven by the world’s idea of what is significant and powerful and what is not!

And not enough by the Gospel’s idea of the Kingdom

Our culture is powered by utilitarian ideals that lead to sayings like:

“Might makes right”

“Bigger is better”

Our culture is motivated by an unrelenting desire for bigger, better, more…

Our culture values large over small and much over little

And this life-perspective has influenced the Church so that we think big is successful and impactful and little is insignificant…

We are like the majority of the spies who scouted out the promised land under Joshua’s leadership…

The people of the land seems like giants and they felt as small as grasshoppers 

Grasshoppers = insignificant compared to…

If we change our perspective and look at things with Kingdom eyes …

We realize the great opportunities for Kingdom impact that each of us and all the tens of thousands of small house churches in the world really have

We recognize that God has a consistent pattern of using things the world overlooks and using them for His glory and honour

Jesus changed the world with a dozen disciples, not with a massive army

The boy’s little basket of food was used to feed thousands

Gideon’s army was made intentionally small by the Lord

God often uses the small and the overlooked to display His power

But we do need to note: Being small is not a virtue in itself … it is what you do with the “small” that matters

Paul makes it very clear that we must live wide open if we hope to be used in a powerful and significant way by the Lord in the world today

2 Corinthians 6:12-13 (MSG) “We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!

We need to make the decision to no longer live life “in a small way” (mini-me)

We need to “…open up our lives. Live openly and expansively”

But to do so we must stop seeing ourselves as insignificant and start seeing ourselves and what we are doing for the Gospel and the Kingdom as significant and important — Because we are

Because what we do for Him is! 

And the problem is clearly stated:

“We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you.Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way.”

Living life in a small way

We all do it one way or another

We all do it one day or another

To live in a big way we need to change the way we see ourselves

To see ourselves differently — and eventually live life differently — we need to change on the inside … 

See ourselves differently

Feel differently about ourselves 

Discover how God thinks about us

This inner growth and transformation happens in quiet – away from the view of others 

Called it: Solitude, sabbath, quiet time and place

This inner growth and transformation needs a place and a space where you can focus and examine who you are and why you live the way you do

You need a place and a space to discover the insignificant “mini-me” and replace it with the you that God created you to be

Then when the door of opportunity opens to do something significant for God – then you are ready

Then when there is a demand placed upon you to stand tall and walk strong and be bold – it’s there on the inside and we are ready and able to “…open up our lives. Live openly and expansively”

When David was chosen by God and anointed by Samuel the prophet to be king (1 Samuel 16)

He was not ready to be king as he saw himself as a shepherd boy (his mini-me)

God saw his heart and not his outward appearance or abilities (1 Samuel 16:7) so knew he had bigness in him … 

God knew David was not insignificant and would do great things for the Kingdom

God then gives David places and spaces where he could grow and develop and eventually be ready to be declared and enthroned king over God’s people

David did not actually become king until he had grown on the inside and defeated his mini-me

And, this was key to his success because, at first, he saw himself as small and insignificant

The last and youngest in the family who cared for the sheep

“We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you.”

How do you grow on the inside and become ready for the challenge when it arises?

The challenges as they arise in the Kingdom, in relationships, in life…

1> Stop listening to “mini-me”

Mini-me is the weaker version of yourself who coaches you into smallness

Mini-me wants you to play it safe and remain small 

When I was growing up there was a tough group of guys the next block over who were constantly picking on my older brother – words and physically

My brother saw himself as weak and unable to take them on…

One day my father began to speak to my brother:

Calling out the stronger Keith

Calling out the tougher Keith

Calling out the bigger inner Keith

Calling out the fighter that was in there

He also taught my brother how to fight as my dad had been a semi-pro boxer for a number of years before he was married

Keith stopped listening to his “mini-me” and the next thing I heard was that he had taken on three of them in a fist fight and won

My point is not that you should pick a fight 

My point is that you need to stop listening to mini-me who limits and who helps you to continue to feel insignificant

2> Leave your comfort zone 

 Comfort zones are the place where dreams go to die

To leave your comfort zone you must not allow your past to abort today’s possibilities

To leave your comfort zone you need to:

    • Think bigger
    • Pray bigger prayers
    • Remove pettiness
    • Grow your faith by stepping out in faith
    • Trust God more
    • Make consistent inner changes as you step forward into your future
    • Take risks
    • Realize that “everything is working together for your good…”
    • Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!

3> Start living big – live life wide open

Live life wide open stepping out with courage and boldness in the various areas of your life

Live life wide open by no longer being so sensitive to what others think and say

Live life wide open by not allowing the small stuff to loom so large and occupy so much of your time and energy 

Live life wide open is to risk what you know and have for what just might be possible and powerful

Living life wide open is what keeps the doors of opportunity open, allowing God to work in your life and thru you to do significant things

The opposite to living life wide open is allowing your internal smallness  (your mini-me) to limit what you do and make your life insignificant 

This is how “inner smallness” (the mini-me) affects you…

  • It causes us to be self-conscious
  • It causes us to be slow to compliment and encourage others
  • It causes us to be slow to celebrate the wins of other people
  • It causes us to engage in petty and negative conversations where people complain, gossip, and criticize 
  • It causes us to be envious of other people’s success
  • It causes us to shrink ourself to stay as small a target as possible so the world won’t shoot us down
  • It causes us to pass up opportunities to contribute — being careful not to put ourselves out there where we risk saying the wrong thing or having our ideas ignored or rejected by others
  • It causes us to take things too personally
  • It causes us to assume the worst in people or about people
  • It causes us to put the focus on what we want to avoid — pain, confrontation, and embarrassment — instead of what we want or need to accomplish
  • It causes us to let criticism lay us low rather than help us grow
  • It cause us to be inhibited to love out loud — not free to say love, show love, or feel love
  • It causes us to turn inward, shut down, and withdraw emotionally
  • It cause us to make excuses rather than owning our choices, our moods, and our behaviour

There is a bigger you if you will allow that person the place and the space as well as the permission to develop and grow

Then this “bigger you” will overpower mini-me and will:

      • Speak up
      • Help out
      • Take you to new places of faith and confidence
      • Untapped possibilities will become possible
      • Untrained talent will rise up and be seen by others
      • Undeveloped strengths will become obvious and powerful

There is a bigger you that just needs permission to rise above the trap of small-minded conversations that have been having with yourself

The decision to abandon smallness begins when you give yourself permission on a constant, daily basis to grow bigger on the inside

You can start today to change the internal dialogue and those petty conversations to:

    • Big-thinking
    • Risk-taking
    • Faith-filled living

Allowing you to then live a seriously significant life for the King and the Kingdom

As I thought about this since last summer when the seeds of this teaching were planted I realize that this is what took place in the lives of many in the Bible

    • David
    • Moses
    • Gideon
    • Joshua
    • Mary – mother of Jesus
    • Peter

Little people who accomplished very significant things for the Kingdom

And they all ended up doing things for God that were seriously significant and powerful!

So, like the mustard seed and yeast …

Both of which have a momentous impact when activated. 

Their potential far exceeds their appearance

So, we can have a momentous impact when we activate and release the true person God created you to be …. The potential that is in us as believers and followers of Jesus

And you can never be insignificant when you ignore mini-me and release the big person inside