When we start something new, the numbers usually won’t astonish anyone. Only a handful show up for the CD release. Only a few hundred people buy the book. Your organization’s event draws only an awkward amount of people who aren’t sure if this is a best-kept secret or a bad idea.

Early results will almost always be discouraging. If that’s all you’re looking for. 

But I know someone who can relate. 


Jesus started with 12 men and a small group of women. He sent out 70 people to share his message. And in the end, only 120 were left. 

So much for exponential growth. And this is the Son of God we’re talking about. 

Three years of popular ministry, with hundreds of sermons preached. Thousands healed. Then there was the death-defying resurrection at the end. Yet 50 days after his departure, all he had to show for it was 120 people still quietly claiming to know him.

You think God, of all people, would’ve been able to pull off bigger numbers, a better showing, a more loyal following, right?

When we start something, our numbers won’t reflect where we are going. Laying a foundation is invisible work. It would’ve been easy to write Jesus off as a passing fad with only 120 followers remaining when he was gone. 

But that was only the beginning. 

It’s possible that your labor doesn’t look fruitful right now. Maybe for all the work you put in, more people should know about your site, your book, your album. More people should be visiting your new business or church plant, or giving to your organization. Maybe you’re getting the eye from friends, family or investors that you should give up before you’re in to too deep. 

It’s ok. Investing in the few and the small pays off. Going deep and taking time to lay a proper foundation won’t impress anyone at first. 

You are not stupid for persevering. You are a pioneer.

You know in one day, things can change. The 120 Jesus followers in a room added 3,000 more to their numbers after one early morning sermon. And today, Christianity is the world’s fastest growing religion. 

If you decide the labor isn’t worth it, you’ll never see the explosion. Be willing to invest in a future thing, regardless of whether or not you will be around for it. Pour into legacy, and you won’t be disappointed.

{This post is dedicated to the persevering, visionary force that is my husband. It’s his birthday today, and I know he knows how starting small feels. But Babe, don’t fret from small beginnings, if ever you’re tempted. They don’t tell us where we’re going, only where we’ve been. On this journey, you’ve taught me and many others the value of faithfulness to vision and calling, and I am so thankful for that.
Here’s to 35 more years of breaking ground and breaking through. I love you and believe in you. I know you’re here for the long haul, and I love that about you.

One thought on “When You’re Ashamed of Small Beginnings

  1. I absolutely needed this today Sarah! Your posts (and your book!) of late have been speaking directly into my life! I am on a new journey after having stepped “out of the boat” with Peter 10 years ago to go home and be “mom” Little did I know what was in store for me here! It is here that I found Jesus and a new life in Him. He has begun to heal a very broken woman and turned my life around 360 degrees. Our youngest is now in 1st grade and Jesus has called me “out of the boat” again.This time into a business/education opportunity in the e-commerce marketplace. For me, a vast ocean and sky is all I can see nothing else! Many days I wonder what am I doing here!This is not me! I am a caregiver! How soon I forget He is making me new not only on the inside but the outside as well. He sees me completely different than I see myself. The steps I have made don’t seem like much and I get frustrated, the bills are coming due and I again wonder what am I doing here? Then along come words of encouragement in the small steps of building a good, strong and firm foundation that is built to last. Being the first Christian in generations in our family, you would think one could remember what it is to be a pioneer! How soon I forget, Thank you for the encouragement of these beautiful words… “If you decide the labor isn’t worth it, you’ll never see the explosion. Be willing to invest in a future thing, regardless of whether or not you will be around for it. Pour into legacy, and you won’t be disappointed.” Today my 11 year old thinks it’s funny that his “technically challenged” mother is going into the online business world…wait until he sees the legacy unfold….


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