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Quiet and Small, It’s Okay

Sometimes quiet and small is okay. It may not make for clever Tweets or garner a slew of comments on Facebook, but it’s nothing to fear; Sometimes private is good. Not every picture has to go through the filters of Instagram and rocket into the public square, it can be for just you; And sometimes hidden is best. Not every blog or bestseller has to be about doing something huge, radical, revolutionary, monumental. By the way, this is not a criticism of the well-known voices we listen to or a critique of their remarkable work. In fact, I am friends with some of these influencers who would be guilty of burying their talents if they did things any other way–they are using their notable gifts truly for the glory of God and they are having a profound reach. So set all of them aside because this is not about them; It’s not a this-way versus that-way. I simply want to ponder another side of what faithfulness looks like.

Tonight two people came to my house to pray. Usually we have six or seven, but this evening there were only three. I made Trader Joe’s French press decaf and served Trader Joe’s sea salt brownies, because I love TJ’s that much. It was small, quiet and I think powerful.

For 46 days my sister and I gave up the same thing for Lent and went through a devotional by Henri Nouwen. The two of us did it together and we read in silence most every morning. Pretty ordinary. Pretty doggone quiet. Still I pray God has changed us through this very small fast.

Over a year ago a friend of mine picked up a struggling woman on the side of the road, got to know her family, and has shared in both their ordinary and special occasions. She’s driven them to church and appointments, bought the kids’ school ornaments for fundraisers and simply been a friend. She doesn’t tell this story from a stage because she doesn’t speak on platforms but, kinda quietly, she’s building the Kingdom.

I had two Jr. High youth leaders who used to take my friends and me to Denny’s after youth group–I consider teen ministry at Denny’s modern-day suffering for Christ–bought us burgers and listened to our urgent and dire struggles that we believed, if not solved, might end the world. They discipled me with patience and love and let several of us spend the night on many occasions even though we nearly burned their house down because of poor microwave popcorn skills. They didn’t get the chance to Instagram the smoke billowing from the kitchen for the reward of a hundred “hearts”, because Instagram didn’t exist. They never blogged about their many years as youth group leaders probably because there were no such thing as blogs. Their service was mostly hidden, but they helped direct the course of my life.

I know a woman who cooks dinner every week for the young single girls in a nearby church. She leads them in Bible Study and meets with them individually for coffee. I once heard her pray with all sincerity, “Lord, there’s not a yacht on any sea I’d want to travel more than I want to be with these girls each week.” (And that, of course, made me think of all the European coastal destinations I’d like to see and how sometimes I want this more than I desire to minister.) The mark she’s making on these women’s lives is profound and hardly anyone knows she’s been doing this every week for two years. She doesn’t have a Facebook profile.

As I’ve been pondering over the past few months, the question is certainly not whether or not social media, publishing, speaking on large platforms, Tweeting, blogging, gaining followers is wrong. This would be to miss the thinking entirely. The question is at what expense are we being drawn to bigger, louder, larger, best-selling, more famous? Are we losing anything in the pursuit? Are we measuring our faithfulness to Christ by “likes” or by lives?

I can only answer these questions for myself and the answers are not always flattering. Paul speaks to Timothy about the value of leading a quiet and peaceable life which is good and acceptable in the sight of our Savior (I Tim 2:2-3). I am yearning more than ever before for a quality of life pleasing to Him, whether known or obscure. This morning I read in I Cor 3:12-13 that “If any man builds on this foundation [Jesus Christ]…his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.” Social Media and pub deals and music contracts can be of great value but they will not be what brings the value of our work to light. This will only be measured in Jesus.

So I guess I want to encourage so many of you who are going about the daily business of seeking Jesus and loving others, some in front of enormous crowds, others in front of a few. Remember the quality of your labor is not measured in numbers or followers or sales, valid as this may be. As I read Henri Nouwen’s Lenten devotional I was reminded of how he spent the last years of his life ministering in a small community to those with special needs. At times in his writing you can sense his angst, as if he feels he’s not adequately using all his knowledge or skills, or that he’s almost disappearing, and yet his writings have transcended his life. The way he served in obscurity is now changing people in the light. Amazing how God can do this.

For “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” (Heb 6:10) May we humble ourselves together? And in a world of big, let us never fear what’s quiet. Or small. Or hidden.

*Beth Moore wrote a fabulous blog that overlaps these ideas and I think you’ll find it freeing. Check it out here.

 

 

 

 

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29 Responses to “Quiet and Small, It’s Okay”

  1. holly smith says:

    Mmm…resounds with my spirit so much. Love you, Kelly

  2. Jennifer says:

    This is beautiful, and just what I needed to hear today. I've been blogging for six months now and speaking to a small group of women once a week. God told me I would be sharing my heart and struggles with people. Even if it is just one other person in the room, I'm okay with it. I just want to share the hidden treasure Who is Christ and give Him glory. It is so easy to become caught up in creating a platform, that it can be easy to forget why we are doing it. I don't want to ever go there.
    Thanks for this post. it is a beautiful and gentle reminder of ALL things important!

  3. Patti says:

    You lost me at "Henri Nouwen" – He is a "New Age" thinker, supporter of mysticism, hindusim, etc. It's so sad to see so many go down this path. I suggest that you read "A Time of Departing" by Ray Yungen and do an in-depth study of Jude…..we are walking in the very words of that small epistle. Prayers for you and others who have been deceived by such as these.

  4. Brenda says:

    Kelly,
    You have put so beautifully to words a wrestling match I've had for many months. I'm not sure I've yet found the balance, but am for sure coming to a place where I simply want to be filled up and poured out by God wherever, whenever, and however He chooses. Thank you for writing and sharing!

  5. carmen thompson says:

    Thank you Kelly. This means a lot to me.

  6. Annette says:

    Oh Kelly, how these words spoke to my heart. I thank you so much for your words of encouragement. I sometimes feel I am invisible and these words truly told me that IAM NOT!! Keep it up Kelly !!

  7. teresainreallife says:

    Thank you for writing this beautiful post.

  8. Lori Eubanks says:

    Very cool – love your thoughts..something that I've been thinking about too lately!
    And on another note… :) …there is a group of our women (about 60) going through your Nehemiah study right not (we have also been through "Ruth" and "No Other Gods") and loving it! It's fun to introduce you to more and more at our church (and their friends) – thanks for using YOUR gifts and talents to bring others into a deeper understanding of what a RELATIONSHIP with Christ truly is! WE love your heart for God and His word (and your humor is an added bonus!) just sayin!
    I often find myself praying over your ministry – just wanted you to know.
    Lori Eubanks – Chase Oaks Church – Plano, TX

  9. kelmint says:

    Hi Patti,
    Sometimes when I mention a particular author or book it doesn't mean I've had a chance to research his or her entire history or body of work. I've read several books by Nouwen and never have I read anything that has ever hinted at any of the things you mentioned. I have only known him to point to Jesus Christ and the fundamentals of the Christian faith. I have a strong desire to share biblical truth and to promote others who do the same, so I hope this blog will not be taken as an offense but as an encouragement. I truly hope this helps.
    -Kelly

  10. Elizabeth Ampong says:

    Great insight……. God bless you Kelly.

  11. Sandee says:

    Thank you. I struggle so with the guilt of not living the big bold life…while I am a single mother to four, with aging parents moving in as well. Thank you for sharing….my life may not be quiet, with 7 of us in one house….but it is small and I long for it to be full of grace. a breathe a sigh of releif reading your words that match my longing…quiet and small.

    I think of Mary, the mother of Jesus…. raising her children….not much fanfare…

  12. Barbara Daniel says:

    Momma Daniel here – I shared your blog entry with a friend who sent back a little poem by Julia A. Carney that you might enjoy:

    Little Things

    ~Julia A. Carney

    Little drops of water,
    Little drains of sand,
    Make the mighty ocean
    And the beauteous land.
    And the little moments,
    Humble though they be,
    Make the mighty ages
    Of eternity.
    So our little errors
    Lead the soul away,
    From the paths of virtue
    Into sin to stray.
    Little deeds of kindness,
    Little words of love,
    Make our earth an Eden,
    Like the heaven above.

    SOOOOOOO – those "little" things add up.

  13. Sue says:

    Such a perfect posting ~ thank you for sharing this. It really is truth, and I hope will help others to stop beating up on themselves simply because they are not doing what "everyone else" is doing, or doing it as "big"… LOVE Hebrews 6:10!

    Your Nehemiah study has been an inspiration to me daily! :))

  14. TraciG says:

    Sometimes it amazes me how God sends exactly what I need to read, exactly when I need to read it. It shouldn't amaze me, because he does it often enough to show me how much he loves me, and knows me even when I can't (don't) even verbalize where my heart is struggling. Thanks for being one of his funnels, Ms. Minter!

  15. Debbie says:

    Yes.

  16. Brianne says:

    My friend sent me to this link after my blog post yesterday. Spot on with me thoughts. Only yours tackled even more. Love it. Thanks for sharing.

  17. brandihawthorne says:

    Right on time.

  18. Thanks so much for this post Kelly! I too have read Henri Nouwen's Lenten devotional both last year and this year, and it spoke volumes to my mind and soul. This post is so desperately needed in this day of social media–thank you for helping me stop and breathe and focus on the LORD! I loved your Nehemiah study – I did it as my personal quiet time study last year, and it spoke such truth and life to me – thank you.

  19. Angela Sutsakhan says:

    Thanks! What great insight and something I needed to be reminded of. Our ladies bible study has been doing your Nehemiah study and we've all had different responses to the message – some "quieter" and some "louder". I look forward to meeting you soon as you're coming to speak at our event next weekend in Maryland. Praying that God will lay on your heart what we need to hear from the Lord. May God continue to use you to shine brightly for Him.

  20. Gaby says:

    Wonderful, wonderful. This is just what I needed to read today. Thank you.

  21. Ellie says:

    I like this. I have a strong passion for writing – very strong – and also a very strong passion for helping others. I feel like these two are intertwined. i don't know how to get started, and I also don't want to lost sight of God using me quietly. This is a very good post. Thanks.

  22. Marty says:

    Powerful. Thank you for sharing.

  23. edifier1 says:

    Amen.

  24. Kelly says:

    I really appreciate the wisdom you articulated in this post. I'm glad God has called each of us to minister in so many ways.

  25. Lisa says:

    So very perfect and timely, Kelly! With the advent of the internet, social media, YouTube, etc. I've seen such an increase in a desire for fame/celebrity and as believers we are by no means immune. I find myself in a "quieter" stage of life…but just when I feel like I'm not being "productive" enough, my eyes are opened to how much more one-on-one relationship-building, ministry, witnessing I have actually been able to participate in. Sharing this with others today, thank you so much!

  26. hattonkb says:

    A dear friend just directed me to your blog and even just after reading this one post I identify with what you are saying. The world tells us we are failures if our church isn't a certain size, our blog doesn't receive a certain number of visitors or we receive XX number of comments and likes on our social media outlets. So thank you for the reminder that God is in the big and the SMALL and that His kingdom is being impacted in tremendous ways even when the world doesn't see it!

  27. Kathe says:

    Kelly, I am going to be honest here…I did not read your blog! I am leading a group of ladies in my church in the Ruth Study. Tonight is our last night and I have an overwhelming need to tell you how much we appreciate your work! I look forward to reading your blog entries, now that I have found you here… but today is dedicated to preparing for tonight's discussion.
    We have totally enjoyed this study and have been so blessed by your unique perspective. As the facilitator of our group and often the decision maker, I have been concerned about continually using the same author. Many of us are huge Beth Moore fans. It is God we wish to study, worship and love. So it is important to study other authors. We have found your work very moving, enlightening, exciting, and I've personally been drawn to study with you! I am planning to begin No Other God's tomorrow (on my own for the summer) and Nehemiah is on our schedule for the coming year.
    Please just know how much your work is appreciated and keep up your wonderful work. God is using you as you teach and even entertain us! I love a quick wit and I think God gave us laughter to get us through this life. I have giggled and laughed out loud while I studied Ruth and then found myself using your words on my facebook status. Thank you Kelly!

  28. Christine Craig says:

    Okay! :) Thanks, Kelly!

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