10 Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…”
(Zechariah 4:10 NLT)
I’ve been thinking about this verse a lot recently, probably because I am entering into another season of small beginnings. Before Ben and I got married, we began dreaming about what we could accomplish together, and dreaming has since become a habit in our home. We are dreamers, and we’ve never seen our dreams as separate- Ben’s dreams vs. Nicole’s dreams. By God’s grace, we’ve seen each of our individual ambitions as something God is welding together into one life meant to be lived from a deep place of faith and fulfilling a divinely inspired mission.
We are avid dreamers, but also aspiring doers… And this year, after a significant time of prayer and seeking some good advice, we decided it was time to begin pursuing one of our dreams. We knew it would be a leap of faith, and one of the hardest things we’ve ever done, but we simply could not shake the fact that God was calling us to this. There are people to reach and a difference to make, and we knew that Jesus was calling us to this new adventure. In a couple of months, I will have more details, but for now I’ll just let you know that this dream is fueled by a deep passion to equip and empower young women to maximize their God-given potential and to awaken their brilliance within.
Deciding to begin is one thing, getting to the work of beginning is another. Ask anyone who’s ever been a part of a start-up, a church plant or a major transition in life, and they will tell you that new endeavors require guts and grit, audacity and humility, passion and discretion, courage and curiosity, dedication and flexibility. Pioneering is not for the faint of heart, but purpose has a way of propelling us into these seasons every now and again, and usually at the expense of our comfort.
“Do not despise theses small beginnings…” Beginnings are scary and exhilarating and nerve-wracking and stretching and exhausting and rewarding and trying and self-exposing and messy and magnificent all at the same time, and sometimes, quite literally, all in the same day. And yet, God rejoices when we begin. Small beginnings excite God. Our small beginnings please God because they are fueled by big faith. Dreams and visions may open our eyes to the possibilities of the unknown, but it’s faith that opens our hearts to bravely step into the unknown.
We need faith because, well, without it, our humble beginnings will never materialize into anything more. A single paragraph doesn’t make a whole chapter, just like one step doesn’t equal a whole mile. Beginnings are only significant when they build to something more, and without an assurance that God is with us and for us, we lose the heart to journey on when things get inconvenient or difficult or seemingly impossible.
There is always a temptation to let our small beginnings end before they have the chance to become anything more. We all face situations that make us want to slow down, to freeze up, or to quit altogether. We can either surrender to the challenges or we can develop a faith that surprises and confounds. It’s the kind of faith that is a bit scrappy. It’s the kind of faith that seems outnumbered and out-of-its-depth, but through persistence and heart, dominates in the ring. It’s the kind of faith that seems weak and non-threatening but can kick some serious butt when it needs to.
Scrappy faith may seem as tiny as a mustard seed, but it has the power to move mountains. It’s the slingshot against the giant. It’s the marching band circling the walls of Jericho. It’s the hole in the roof of a stranger’s house to lower a friend to Jesus. It’s the kind of faith that turns beginnings into chapters full of miracles and breakthroughs. In fact, it’s scrappy faith that turns small beginnings into great stories.
I’m currently learning the true power of scrappy faith in my own small beginning, and for those of you stepping into a new season, a new venture, a new dream, a next act of obedience, a next step into the unknown, here’s some thoughts on responding to current challenges with some scrappy faith:
- There’s going to be a cost, and it should be counted.
Jesus taught us to count the cost before building a tower; in other words- be real about the sacrifices this new season will require. Before you begin construction on what God is calling you to build, assess the costs. What will you need to give up to make the plan take shape? How much time will this take? What skills will you need to learn? What ways of thinking will need to change? How will you need to grow and stretch? Count the cost and be willing to pay full price. Shortcuts and discounts may seem enticing, but when it comes to building what God has called you to build, it’s not worth it to cut corners. Your life and your dreams, by the grace of God, should be architected with excellence and intention.
- Your greatest resource is relationship.
There is a greater resource than money in the bank; it’s the right partnerships, friendships, mentorships, and community. When we invest in the right relationships, we will discover an endless wealth of love, support, wisdom and strength for whatever new chapter we are stepping into. And you can’t put a price tag on that.
- Limited resource fosters limitless creativity.
We all wish we had more time and more money. These are two things that are always in high demand. And yes, we should use wisdom in how we start, but rarely will we start with an excess of money and time to spend. And that’s not a bad thing. Our limitations can expand our creativity and resourcefulness, teaching us how to be faithful with our little before becoming entrusted with more. If we look at our schedules through the eyes of resourcefulness, we may just find the few hours a week we need to work on that business plan or write that book or to see a counselor or go to the gym or take that night class or invest in that relationship. And if we look at our bank accounts through the eyes of creativity, we may no longer see a tight budget as a constraint but an aid in fostering innovation that sharpens our effectiveness and a faith that unveils God’s provision in our life.
- Pursue progress over perfection.
This new chapter you are in won’t be perfect, no matter how hard you try. You will fumble a few times along the way, and it may take you longer than you’d think to gain the traction you are hoping for. That’s okay. God never asks for our perfection, but He is seeking our spiritual maturity. He desires us to keep taking steps forward in following Him, and learning and growing every day. Don’t let perfectionism paralyze you from taking practical steps forward in faith and learning the right lessons along the way.
- Stay devoted to your mission over your method.
You have an idea of how everything is going to pan out. We all do. But rarely do things turn out exactly as we imagined they would. I’ve found that the Holy Spirit’s direction and God’s grace always make for the best plot twists! So, stay flexible. You may need to adjust your plans or find a different strategy or regroup to continue to move forward. Don’t allow disappoint and discouragement along the way to deter you. When a mountain isn’t moving, go ahead and hike the trail around it. When one door closes, pray and let the Holy Spirit lead you to another open one. Stay true to the mission Jesus gave you to make a difference, but remain open to new possibilities of how that will continue to unfold as you trust Him.
What’s your small beginning? Let us know with a comment below and let’s cheer each other on!