About the Author

Jennifer Dukes Lee is the author of several books, including Growing Slow. She and her husband live on the family farm, raising crops, pigs, and two humans. She’s a fan of dark chocolate, emojis, eighties music, bright lipstick, and Netflix binges. She wants to live life in such a way...

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Reader Interactions


  1. Jennifer,
    Since having to leave my teaching job due to several surgeries, I have felt, at times, like “just a nothing”. I didn’t even have something to fill in the blank with. My kids are grown so I felt like I couldn’t even claim “stay at home mom”. I write a blog, but “writer” seemed a little presumptuous. I’m a “wife” but someone might ask what else did I do? This has been a real lesson in learning to be “just a child of God”. It’s always been about the “doing” and I am having to learn, albeit the hard way, that it’s really about the “being”. I totally agree we need to eliminate the “just a” and simply say, “I am a child of God”. Needed this post this am!

    • Bev,

      May I say, you fill so many roles…. I see you here, day after day, making God your First. And on top of that, you are always encouraging all of us as (in)courage writers, as well as encouraging so many others in the comment box. And I have seen with my own eyes what you’re doing on your own blog; it’s beautiful. You ARE a writer. You ARE a servant of God, a beautiful child of God, and one of the dearest encouragers out her on the World Wide Web. I hope you know today how MUCH you are treasured. Thank you, Bev.

      • Jennifer,
        Thank you so much for your sweet words…they brought tears to my eyes. Maybe it’s been a bit of a mid-life questioning as to how to “define” myself?
        Thanks for YOUR encouragement today…I believe today I will say I AM a writer, an encourager, a servant, and a child of God.
        Blessings and BIG ((hugs)),

        • Bev, your words of encouragement and your blog posts and your love of the children of Pakistan have a ripple effect. You pray for the people you are moved to pray for, and you SEE people, and are moved to compassion. You are a mighty warrior of God’s kingdom.

    • Bev,

      You are not “just a” you are “just as”. I am grateful that you are here and bringing inspiration along with you. (Thank-you)

      Blessings to you,


    • Bev, you are a treasure of God. You have been a beautiful encouragement to me personally on here. Know that what you see as something “little” is SO big to me. Words have a powerful impact and yours have blessed me abundantly exactly when I needed it the most.

    • You’re a teacher, too?! Something else we have in common besides our pianos! I pray therapy is going extremely well, Bev, that in spite of pain and discomfort, you see progress and hope and complete healing at the end of this trial. In the meantime, may you experience peace and joy that defies your circumstances! Fondly, Nancy

    • Thank you Bev. Your comment was even more necessary than the original piece. I have watched my words that fill in the blank dwindle to nothing over the past several months and my exact question was what about not having anything for the blank. Being a child of God is tough for a doer. Thank you for reminding me that I am always a child of God and whether I am doing or being I am His.

      • I have felt God removing all my “titles” from which I have claimed my worth. I am learning to settle into being comfortable in simply “being” His. When I decrease, He increases. Journeying with you! xx

      • N Smith,
        Don’t worry About filling in the blank. God didn’t give us all labels–He simply stated you are mine–a Child of God! That is enough!!

  2. Thank you so much for this post. I am 54 years old and in my life time, I have been employed at various occupations. I have worked retail, worked at a printing company, taught Mother’s Day Out programs, been a substitute school teacher and sold life insurance. Now, I am focusing mostly on volunteer work and I love that. My husband and I love to volunteer. He still works full time. Yet, every now and then, I encounter that person who says, “Oh, you don’t work? Why not?” and they make me feel like nothing or like “just a volunteer”. Volunteering is very important to those we help and to us, too. So, I love the reminder that we are not “just a___”, because we are God’s children and that is the most important part of our lives. 🙂 Blessings. 🙂

    • Melissa, Jennifer wrote such a noteworthy post, and I love what you say here. Once upon a time before God brought me home to be “just a mother,” 🙂 He had me working at the USO serving America’s military and their families (like 700 a day)! Had it not been for our 500 around-the-clock volunteers, the agency would not have existed. Volunteers helped create our country, and they are still the backbone of it. You are so right! It’s very, very important!

    • Melissa,

      The tireless work of a volunteer may get under-recognized and under-valued by people … but right now, I am imagining that Great Cloud of Witnesses cheering you on and saying, “God sure picked the right woman for this!” I hope that today, someone who has been served by you or who has served alongside you, reminds you what a valuable contributor you’ve been to the Kingdom of God. And as a member of this worldwide Kingdom, may I offer my thanks. Thank you, dear Melissa.

      • You are so sweet! Thank you for your kind words. I hope to be showing God’s glory through all I do. Have a great weekend! 🙂

    • Melissa,

      It’s sad to hear that you are made to feel that way instead of appreciated for what you do. In my community volunteers play a significant role in everyday life. What matters is you are doing something from the goodness of your heart.

      Blessings to you,


      • Thank you Penny. These words today are really sending a beautiful message. I pray that others are being blessed, too. 🙂 Have a blessed weekend! 🙂

  3. Jennifer,

    This post really got to me in a really good way, thank-you so much for pointing it out. I was thinking of all the germs your friend has saved the kids & staff from besides everything else she does. She deserves a huge hug for her work. I wish everyone could feel or know that they are not ‘just a’ but ‘just as ‘ needed, etc. Sure the pilot flies the plane but the mechanic maintains them to be flown.

    Blessings to all today,


  4. Jennifer,
    As a SAHM, it’s a common thought that I am “just a stay-at-home mom,” especially when my husband comes home to tell me about how much he’s appreciated at his job. It’s good to hear he does so well, but there’s no pay raise for momma’s, quarterly evaluations, reward programs, or weekends away from your “job.” Often, encouragement comes from other mothers and always from the Lord. Thank you for the reminder that I am not ” just anything,” but who I am supposed to be!

    • LaToya,

      I think the blog ate my comment to you. So I’m trying again. 🙂

      Whenever I speak at an event with young moms, a few of them invariably introduce themselves as “just a mom.” Do you know Lisa-Jo Baker? She does a great job of dismantling the whole “just a mom” mantra.

      Thanks for sharing your heart with us, LaToya.

    • Latoya,
      Try not to let yourself feel that what you do is less than. It is hard work to say the least and not everyone is able to do it. You are “just as” you should be.

      all the best ,


  5. Jennifer, this post isn’t “just” any old post, and I wanted to thank you for how you love and encourage women. Women do “just” the kinds of jobs that society likes to ignore (and even denigrate). It was really hard for me to leave the workforce twenty-three years ago to raise our daughter (who turned twenty-three yesterday). God had led me to limelight kind of work (and actually, I initially fought him because I didn’t want to leave my house and I was frightened to do a huge job for which I wasn’t qualified–at all). But I grew to love it. Then He asked me to give it up, so I came home. But I figured I would leave again when Sheridan turned five. That was not in God’s plan for me. I pretty much live in obscurity. Thank you for this vital reminder that when we obey the Lord, it’s “just” the most important thing we can ever do. It’s because He gets the glory. Thank you for rising up to answer God’s call on your life to encourage through writing and speaking. He is making a difference through you.

    • Lynn,

      First of all, happiest of birthdays to your sweet Sheridan. She’s a beautiful young lady, and it will be exciting to see where God leads her.

      Secondly, I am inspired and encouraged by your obedience. It’s so tempting to live the celebrated life. Oh, that we would all patiently acquire virtue, not seeking human accolades but waiting in anticipation of what C.S. Lewis called “the divine accolade.”

      When writing Love Idol, I came across Apelles in the Bible. He’s only mentioned once, at the tail end of Romans. Paul had been going on and on about a lot of other fine folks who were helping spread the Good News. He had all kinds of words to describe everyone else — words like outstanding and great. But when Paul got to Apelles, he writes: “Greet Apelles, tested and approved in Christ.”

      No mention of Apelles the Great. Apelles the Hero. Apelles the Popular.

      He was Apelles the Approved.

      I wonder if Apelles ever felt like “just a” compared to his applauded peers. I would love a lunch date in heaven with him, to know for sure!

      But until then, I want to live like Apelles — to be remembered most as one “tested and approved” in Christ.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Lynn!

      • Again, you are SUCH an encourager, Jennifer, to reach out to me I my anonymity. I am so grateful. I recall in your wonderful book reading about Apelles, and till you mentioned him, admittedly, I am never heard of him. But oh! to be approved and tested by the Lord. Apelles is first-person French for called. Je m’apelles Lynn. My named is called Lynn. But to me Je m’apelled Christian (and not time to look up–French is rusty)….that is the best naming of all. He knows my name, and He knows where He can find me. Love this, and love you.

  6. This is such an important message. If only we could all believe it to the core! I love to imagine a world where everyone is using their gifts and talents confidently and joyfully, knowing they are doing what God made them for, whether or not it’s exciting and flashy. I am not an exciting or flashy person. For a long time I thought I wanted to be. I admired the “life of the party”, or the people who accomplish notable things. But I have come to realize that I am the rock in my family. I provide stability and safety for my kids and my husband. I wouldn’t give that up for anything.

    Your line that “the big things are the little things” is the exact phrase that God gave me a couple of years ago. When I read a biography or headline about some person who has done amazing things, I try to think about how most of their life has been filled with the little, seemingly unimportant moments. The scientist who did the same test day in and day out for years, with many failed hypotheses, before she found the cure for the disease. The athlete who trained every day for years, rain or shine, before he won a medal. The author who read thousands of books about writing in her free time, who wrote inumerable stories that got left in pieces because they never quite came together the way she wanted, who sent manuscripts to thousands of publishers, before she had a book that was published. And all of those people also did the dishes, rushed out to the store to buy a birthday gift for a kid’s friend’s party, took their car in for repairs, had coffee with a friend, read a bedtime story to their young child, had a fight with their teenage child, worried about finances and friendships and family members, etc. No one would get a medal for these things, but they are the main substance of life! And God sees the impact of all of those little things when I don’t. He knows how much my family and friends and neighbours and acquaintances are made stronger because I am in their lives, doing the little things.

    Jesus talked to a whole lot of people in his time on this earth. As a teacher, He definitely made the headlines. Yet the people who made up most of the early church leaders, the ones he impacted the most dramatically, were the people he spent his every-day time with. They walked together, ate together, joked together, played board games together (ok, I just imagine that one), prayed together, grieved together. And before that, he spent years building furniture or houses or whatever a carpenter did back then, as well as working out balance sheets and ordering inventory and talking to the next potential customer to try to make a sale, all so he could provide for himself and his family. So I am not just an administrative assistant, or just a mom, or just a wife. I am a part of the body of Christ, a child of God, and a part of the incredible tapestry of hope and redemption that God is creating in this world through His Church, through the billions of little things that we are doing right where God has placed us.

  7. As a SAHM who has been homeschooling 5 kids since ’96 I have most certainly used the “just a….” phrase a number of times. However, now that my youngest is 16 and a high school junior I’m almost out of my just a…job! 🙂 It’s been my privilege to mentor young moms at our church’s Moms to Moms group and MOPS, telling them many of the same things here in your lovely post and from the comments. Oh, how we need to spend so much more energy on encouraging one another and recognizing worth in those who can’t yet see it for themselves!

    I love the statement: “Just a” didn’t do a thing. You did.” Excellent! Thank you!!!!!

  8. Thank you for this, Jennifer!
    My husband has been pastor in a very small church in a very small town in the Central Valley of California for 21 years. Our people (& honestly, sometimes we too) have felt like our church isn’t “successful” because we remain a small congregation while other churches become large! However, several years ago, we began proclaiming a benediction over our church…used by the late Rev Richard Halverson, who served as chaplain to the U.S. Senate: “You go nowhere by accident. Wherever you go, God is sending you there. Wherever you are, God has put you there. He has a purpose in your being there. Christ, who indwells you, has something He wants to do through you, wherever you are. Believe this, and go in His grace, and love, and power. Amen.”
    This proclamation over our people each Sunday has changed their perspective, and ours! We are small AND mighty! God has important work to accomplish here and we are the ones He has called and equipped for our small community. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)
    Masterpieces cannot be described with the words “just a”! God created us on purpose, with purpose, for a purpose!
    Thank you for reminding us!

    • I love this! I am going to send this to my daughter who has moved hundreds of miles away from our family since marrying her new husband. She is homesick and knows no one, except her husband in her new town. I will be praying it over the teachers I work with also.

  9. Jennifer, God knew–He always does–exactly what I needed today. As I sat down to work, I paused to read your blog post and couldn’t keep the tears from coming. I’ve often felt discouraged over the very insecurities you mentioned. Thank you for writing and encouraging me on such a deep soul level. Bless you.

  10. Hi Jennifer,

    This is a terrific post! I have been guilty of the Just a……phrase. The ordinariness, and the mundaneness can get very old, very fast. But as I was reading this post, I heard faithful in the small….faithful in much. We go to a charter school and each family is required to volunteer at least 40 hours per year to make up for the lesser funding than a straight private school. I was astounded when I read at the end of last year’s school that our volunteer hours equalled 8940 hours. This was to keep the school running. I didn’t do anything that would be considered out of the ordinary, but I realize if I hadn’t volunteered, someone else would have had to pick up my slack from not helping.

    If your friend who works as a janitor chose not to do her job with excellence, as busy as everyone is in school, it would have either gone undone, or someone else would have had to do it. People may not notice the jobs when well done and truly that is our goal to work as unto the Lord, but they most certainly notice when the jobs aren’t well done. It takes the janitor to keep the school clean, and safe, replace the lightbulbs, etc. Those jobs make it conducive to teaching and learning because the school is clean and orderly instead of a distraction with dirt, chaos and smells. It also helps everyone healthy instead of all the germs from the bathrooms, the food from spills, the messes from people being sick and touching door handles, etc.

    She noticing the students and praying for them? that is loving those kids and enabling them to be seen instead of being invisible and interceding at the throne of God to equip them, and protect them, and change them. If she isn’t praying for them if they have unbelieving parents, they might not have anyone praying for them. What a gift she is giving to her school she serves and works.

    • Brain is taking a vacation lately, I meant to say lesser funding than at a straight public school.

  11. Jennifer: thank you. Your words have hit home in a big way. I stopped teaching in December last year, when losing my Mum to cancer, PTSD from caring for her, and the toll of teaching combined with caring for two young children on very little sleep became too much. In the beginning I was too busy just breathing again to even worry about the “just a”…but the last few weeks, I’ve heard this little voice telling me I’m “just a…” and yet at the same time, I have strongly felt God calling me to a deeper rest in Him and the time and energy for facing my past and working through it both for my own and my family’s sake. I told my husband that your post made me realize my wish to return to work stems more from me placing my own self-worth on what I do, rather than on who I am. Even in stopping work, I’ve taken on volunteer work to make myself feel worthy…”See, I’m doing something good.”

    God’s encouraging me to stop, so that I can face up to my own brokenness and desperate need for Him, for Christian community and for the time to start facing my “demons”. Thank you for your treasured words.

  12. Oh… This is right where I am… For so long it seems we have a white board that is written on… From the day we are born it starts… Girl/boy … Crawler … Walker… First grade on&ion… Student … Athlete… Band … On and on… Than it’s jobs… Moms… Etc… All these titles screaming who we are … I would say these titles didn’t define for me until now… Launched 5th and last child … 27 yrs of homeschooling over… Now the white board is pretty clear and has been rearranged… Mom is no longer in the center … Grandmother has been added… But now I look and stare to the blankness… Most of the time I am at peace … Until I am asked for the 1000th time… What are you going to do now … How are you filling your time… And what the world wants to know??? What is your value ??? I know this time is a gift … Me and the Lord… This world … Our flesh wants a measurable value to our life and time… But God’s kingdom is upside down … The scales have been flipped and emptied… So I learning in deeper ways… To “just” be… Being is a verb… Being has great value

  13. So many good comments already. I shared a comment on the other blog about the importance of janitors and garbage collectors (without them we could not live in cities). But each of us is important. I’m out of work, and so now I can’t say, “I’m an office worker,” or “I’m a writer.” But I am definitely a child of the One True God!

  14. Thanks for this blog Jennifer. I am very grateful for it. I look forward to seeing in my email. These words are a healing balm really. Like most I have & do struggle with my place in the scheme of things, then Lord brings refreshing reminders of His truth as you have written. This helps me be in the day I am in for His purposes. The Lord’s Rich blessings to you.

  15. I feel this way often. Thank you for the holy reminder. I am who I am because of the blood of the Lamb!

  16. Jennifer, I am a couple of days late getting to this, but it so resonated with me! I remember a time I had gone back to school so that I could finish my associates degree. I gained 10 lbs in an academic year and decided I would take a semester off. When it came time to go back for the next term I just started to cry. I did not want to go back to school, but there was something that I thought I needed to do to be more than “just a…” whatever. My husband asked me why it wasn’t enough to just be me? Enough to be child of the King. No just about it!

    I’ve now entered a new stage where I am not working my “regular” part-time job. I don’t get up 4 days a week and get dressed to go to the office. I’m not planning events, balancing budgets and reminding professors not to forget such and such. For a while I wasn’t sure what I would do if I was “just a wife” and homemaker. My son is older (27) and lives away, it is a different type of parenting and yet, I am finding a peace in being “just a wife” and using my talents to explore other opportunities.

    Thank you for reminding us of these truths!

  17. Thank you, Jennifer! I’m sitting up a little straighter because of your uplifting words. The little things DO add up to big things as our children grow into God’s servants, as our encouragement of others creates a ripple effect, as we serve the fruit of the Spirit to those around us. And please pass on to that janitor-friend that she has blessed me! To think she PRAYS for the students she encounters. That’s HUGE!

  18. “She has made a commitment to pray for every kid she encounters.”
    Wow……what a woman of faith! Reading about her dedication humbles me and astounds me. I am greatful you were there to encourage her.

  19. I really appreciated this blog post! I want to share this in my weekly series called “Roll Out The Red Carpet Thursday” – I share bloggers’ amazing posts that I’ve found during the week. I hope that’ ok! Have a wonderful day! 🙂