Don't Despite Small, Humble Beginnings

Amber Ginter

iBelieve Contributing Writer
Updated Jun 20, 2024
Don't Despite Small, Humble Beginnings

He delights in a humble spirit surrendered to His will, His way. And His fulfillment will prevail.

"Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand (The seven lamps represent the eyes of the LORD that search all around the world.)" Zechariah 4:10 (NLT)

Nearly three years ago, I'd drafted what I thought would be my first published book. The Lord had placed a testimony in my heart, and 300 pages later, the memoir was complete. It was a story of pain, redemption, hope, and joy. The words flowed as easily as milk and honey. I strongly believed the story needed to be told.

Growing up hadn't been easy. Sharing this memoir wouldn't be either. Nothing sounds fun about exposing your past pain and tragedy. But I knew God was calling me to authorship, so I figured this was it. I reached out to all my author friends at the time, created a one-sheet and proposal, and pitched to an agent at the She Speaks Conference. The meeting came and went.

I. Was. Devastated.

My book did not pass with gold stars. It was rejected with red x's. The agent told me memoirs were impossible to sell unless I was famous. Nothing was unique about my story. If I wanted to turn it into a self-help book or Christian Living, it might have a shot. But I heard nothing they said. As soon as the meeting ended, I threw myself on the floor. Huge sobs erupted deep from within. Because I'd attached my identity to my book, it was personal. They weren't just rejecting my book. They were rejecting me.

For a month, writing escaped me. If I saw books, pens, or paper, I lost it. Tears welled up in my eyes nearly every day. I thought maybe I'd heard God wrong. I thought maybe I wasn't supposed to be an author because, if I was, why did I have to fail?

A New and Open Door

Feelings of shame and disappointment followed me like shadows—until the day God led me to The Author Conservatory. Over the next month, I was challenged with a paradigm shift: to slow down now so I could speed up later. To focus less on publication immediately and more on a sustainable path to full-time authorship later. With a leap of faith, I agreed. I knew I had three more years of teaching left to fulfill my grant, and this program was set for three years.

Signing up for the program took a mustard seed of faith. It would require small step after small step in pursuit of larger steps later. And for the last three years, that's exactly what's happened. Some days were filled with perseverance and grit, others required theological study and prayer. Most days were filled with joy and excitement, though some days ended in tears of frustration and confusion. Nonetheless, the Lord has grown and developed my writing. He's also pushed and matured my faith. I hope those are things you can see in my writing today.

Three years later, I'm nearing the end of The Author Conservatory. I've gone to two writing conferences and been blown away by the responses. All I'd ever known was rejection. All I've experienced in the last three weeks has been acceptance. Acceptance from agents and publishers. Manuscript requests and contract offers. My head is still spinning.

God Knows Best

I write these reflections not to boast but to brag on God. To show you how His plan was not my plan but how His plan always was and is better. During my second conference, we were allowed two meetings. I'd scheduled the first in advance but was unsure of the second. After talking with my mentors, it was clear: The Lord was encouraging me to meet the same agent I'd pitched to three years ago. Yes, you read that right. The one who rejected me.

My mentors didn't understand that I was petrified. Not only had I spent the last three years avoiding contact with this agent, but I never planned to pitch to them ever again. Sure, I was pitching a new and better idea, but in the past, I'd been humiliated. My mentors reassured me they probably didn't even remember that incident. And so I began to pray. I felt an odd sense of peace. I felt the Lord say to go for it and trust Him.

I signed up for my second appointment and pitched to them on the last day of my conference. I hope you're as stunned as I am when I say it was the best pitch appointment I've ever had. The agent not only loved my project but believed in me and Christ's calling within me. I felt heard. I felt validated. I felt seen. I felt loved. They heard my ideas and pushback. I received their critiques with openness and questions. When they offered me a contract at the end of our time together, I about fell out of my chair.

Brett, my writing coach and founder of The Author Conservatory, has told me that similar to dating, "When you know, you know." I'm not 100% certain yet, but I think I experienced what he's referring to. This series of events is something I never would've planned. It's also something I didn't see coming. Why would I pitch to an agent that rejected me in the past?

An Encouragement to God's People

God spoke to me after this meeting in seven simple words: "Do not despise small and humble beginnings." I'd heard that verse before. Zechariah 4:10. In this chapter, a vision was explained to the prophet. The purpose was to encourage God's people. God's people were facing tremendous and discouraging difficulties. Ones that left them helpless. They believed their Temple could never be rebuilt. The city was in ruins. They thought they were a lost cause with no purpose. Defeated. Doomed.

The vision in this verse declared otherwise: "Do not despise small and humble beginnings." Open hope and encouragement. Not only would God perfect the work, but He would do so in what seemed to be impossible and unpredictable ways. Though they were weak and the opposition was great, God's message was clear. It's not by their might or power but by God's Spirit that the Temple would be rebuilt.

Bible Hub explains the phenomenon this way: "Zerubbabel, who has laid the Temple’s foundation, will complete the work, symbolized by bringing the capstone with shouts of 'Grace, grace to it!'. Every obstacle in Zerubbabel's path will be turned into a level path."

In this fifth vision from the prophet Zechariah, God's message seeks to reassure Zerubbabel—and me. Don't look down on small and simple beginnings. Don't see heaps of ruin as forever destruction. God's in the business of rebuilding. By His power and might. By His strength within you.

Looking back on the last three years of my writing journey, I never thought I'd end up with an agent who originally rejected me. That was never my plan. I'm writing a new story I feel passionate about. And that first story, I've realized, needed to be written for me to heal.

But I sense the Lord doing something new in me. He's reminding me to not forget those small and humble beginnings—those in the past, or those I'll embrace as I face the future. No matter what you're facing today, friend, be encouraged. He can use those minuscule moments. He delights in a humble spirit surrendered to His will, His way. And His fulfillment will prevail.

Agape, Amber

Photo Credit: ©GettyImagesNiseriN

amber ginter headshotAmber Ginter is a teacher-turned-author who loves Jesus, her husband Ben, and granola. Growing up Amber looked for faith and mental health resources and found none. Today, she offers hope for young Christians struggling with mental illness that goes beyond simply reading your Bible and praying more. Because you can love Jesus and still suffer from anxiety. You can download her top faith and mental health resources for free to help navigate books, podcasts, videos, and influencers from a faith lens perspective. Visit her website at