If You Ever Feel Like You’re Not Living Up to Your Potential



“I could do more.”

“I could try harder.”

“I could perform a little better.”

Thoughts like these run through our minds and in return we run through life never feeling like we are enough. What if we don’t live up to our potential? Wouldn’t that be the biggest waste?

And yet there is One who didn’t live up to His potential.

He could have fed more hungry people.

He could have healed more of the sick.

He could have ended sin once and for all.

Yet Jesus didn’t.

Have you ever thought about that?

And He didn’t reach the end of His life and say, “I didn’t live up to my potential.”

Instead He said, “It is finished.”

In other words, “It was enough.”

You are not called to live up to your potential–to do as much as you can, as quickly as you can, for as many people as you can.

{Hint: “Potential” is usually just a code word for other people’s expectations.}

You, my friend, are simply called to say “yes” to God.

With all your heart.

For the rest of your life.

Until the day He says you are finished.

And, yes, it will be enough.

Because there is no greater success than being a servant who simply brings joy to your Master…and you do.




  1. says

    I definitely needed this. I was just turned down for an advancement at work and I thought I wasn’t living up to my potential. I just finished a Master’s degree and I am making so little income. I felt like I wasn’t doing what i could be.

  2. says

    Thanks Holley. It is so funny that you share this today when I needed to hear this. I am in a situation right now that I wish I could get out of. I feel like if I leave, everyone will be disappointed and people will be let down, but I keep thinking — What about me? I’m living up to everyone’s potential BUT mine. I so need to make a change but so frightened by the outcome of everyone’s feelings involved.

    • Terry says

      Dear Jennifer,
      I will pray that you have the courage to be true to yourself. I know I have had situations where I was concerned about what people would think or would be disappointed. My heavenly Father told me this is not the way to go or He reminded me that this is my life not theirs. So be of good courage. Of course it’s easier said than done. Ask God to help you.

  3. Zuzana says

    Thanks Holley, such a nice and liberating word. Yes, sometimes we try so hard but it’s not our battle. It’s finished.

  4. Hannah Miller says

    Thanks, Holly! I had thought about that but I figured most people didn’t see it that way so I was probably off. It is so freeing to think about Jesus feeling everyone’s pain but knowing exactly what to do. I have an invisible illness that is debilitating. I want to be productive and struggle with guilt all the time that I could do more. Thank you for this reminder.

  5. Elizabeth W. says

    Once again Holley, you have thoroughly blessed my heart. Your love for the Lord has made you one amazing vessel for His love, His gifts! Thank-you. You totally rock.

  6. Gayle says

    I struggle with this everyday, my spouse is always telling me to volunteer somewhere. My MS fatigue and cognitive issues make me un-dependable for any set commitment someplace, I haven’t found anyplace I can just show up to when I’m able…most of the time I struggle just keeping up with my house duties and going to medical appointments. I start each day saying “Yes” to Jesus, but yet I feel like I am not “doing” anything for the kingdom of God. I’m not depressed, had that checked out… I just struggle. My symptoms are invisible, so people think I can do more. My heart longs to, but the rest of me struggles. I never thought about how Jesus could do more and yet chose not to and it was okay…so I guess I need to accept that for now my not doing is okay…I just wish my heart would accept that. Thank you for the new perspective.

  7. says

    This post pierced my heart, reached right inside of me and brought me to tears. I am constantly feeling that I’m not doing enough with my life as a stay at home mom. I tell myself that raising 4 kids should be enough. I worry about wasting time, not volunteering enough, should I be working part time, the mental tapes play on and on. Your post today put into words such a poignant perspective and humbled me as I read them – Jesus didn’t even do it all!!!! Thank you for the perspective and your positive messages.

  8. Sherry says

    Thank you! I so needed to read this this morning! It is too easy to accept the identity people give us (both believers and non-believers) which is based on what we do and their expectations. Instead of knowing and accepting our God-given identity.

  9. juliette says

    I have lived most of my life trying to live up to people’s espectations of me and always failed miserablely, because it was such a struggle trying to please every one. Until one day I realise it is not working and I should focus on living my life for God and not man. Today I am free of “potential” and living and awesome life for the Lord. Thanks Holley for sharing this today it is truly an encouaging word and a great reminder.

  10. Cindy says

    Wow! “{Hint: “Potential” is usually just a code word for other people’s expectations.}”
    We need to concentrate on our God-given, God-defined potential. I really appreciate what you have shared, Holley! Thank you!

  11. Linda says

    I think as women we struggle with this and this is a way I never thought of before. Thank you for the insight. It is helpful and hopeful.

  12. Sue Gullo says

    exactly what I needed to hear today…been feeling sort of low for that very reason….I always feel that no matter what I do it’s never enough…especially lately!!

  13. Terry says

    Dear Holley,
    Of course your message is right on time for me as usual. This morning I was just thinking I need to being doing more, I’m not living up to my full potential. And then God spoke to my heart through you. Thank you dear one for your ministry.
    Hugs :)

  14. Jessica C says

    This was what I needed to hear. Thank you Miss Holley. I never thought of it that way before. Being a single woman and a missionary at that, I’ve had to endure comments and questions from people who tell me essentially, ” what you’re doing is not enough.” It gets difficult. But Jesus didn’t live to please and meet other people’s expectations. He did what the Father wanted Him to do! :) Thank u for reminding me of this Truth, Holley! Please keep doing your ministry of encouraging us. Your reward is great in Heaven. Love, Jessica C

  15. Elizabeth Jones says

    What a beautiful post today!!! Holley, YOU are such a blessing! the Lord uses you to listen, serve, reach out, encourage and love on others.
    I struggle with this and disappointed to say I project this onto others…”their just not enough.” I’m very hesistant and little fearful of the (assumed) response as I type those words. if I think others aren’t enough then I think that way about myself. Amazing grace….how sweet the sound….that saved….a wrench…like me…
    Never saw potential that way you described it. Thank you sweet sister for sharing what He’s teaching you!

  16. Deb says

    Holley, Seems the more I give it is never enough. Thanks for support in telling me I am good enough. Love you, Deb

  17. Heather Bensley says

    Thank you so much for your encouraging words. Yes our potential is not others assumed expectations of us. I found that so empowering as I am coming to realise that for some people we can never do enough, we just have to do what is enough for us. You have lifted my spirits so much with your words today.

    • Terry says

      Dear Heather,
      Your words have resonated through my head. You wrote: “we just have to do what is enough for us”. Thank you, thank you. I feel like I am doing enough for my health and well being. Again thank you.

  18. says

    WORD. Yes, thank you for sharing this today Holley. Much needed for many of us, and something I’ll definitely remember as college continues and the pressure to “do everything” and “be in leadership in it all” is all around. Thank you, girl.

  19. Patricia says

    Waoooo. Holley Thanks. for this message, sometime I feel like Im nothing is until i Tried to do the best I can you remaimen For wthat I will be make. I need to explote my potential.
    GOd Bless You
    From Dominican Republic. Patricia

  20. says

    You are as empowering with your written words as with your verbal ones. Loved meeting you tonight and I want to thank you for the wonderful keynote. Very clarifying.

  21. grace says

    For most of this day I have felt shredded and torn and I have been thinking that I am failing to live up to the expectations.. I think.. God has for me. My thoughts have been focused my cousin who took her own life a year ago and in trying to fathom her torment once again found it was like a lasso catching me up into a place where I was beginning to doubt my relationship with God. I am so grateful for the words you faithfully penned today and that I took a little time to read them. Thank-you so much.. I know that God heard my struggle and has for reminded me just how simple it is to please Him…he really has “done” it all for us and I believe you when you say He just wants us to say YES!!! Oh to remember that…thank-you dear Holly.

  22. says

    Holley you don’t know how bad I needed to read this right now. I just finished venting about all the mundane tasks I have done tonite when my migraine subsided and the total lack of appreciation I get from my family. All I hear about is what I can’t or don’t get done and that the time I spend working on art is just a waste of time -I am regularly told that I need to do everything around here AND get a REAL job. (mind you I am just out of a 16 day trip to the hospital with depression/stress and confusion probably caused by B12 deficiency. This certainly puts some perspective into the situation. Almighty God knows I am doing my best and appeciates it and also sees my failures and mistakes that I make because I am stressed and fearful and forgives me for them. God is so good and THAT is what I need to continually re-focus on.

  23. claire says

    amen honey. potential truly is codeword for other people’s expectations….and to be honest who wants to run through life worrying about that! thanks so much Holley for that truly encouraging word. even when I sometimes feel I have to live up to others expectations coz of what they’ve done for me in terms of like lending a helping hand, but that at times causes me to miss the One who helped me out the most and no matter how much I would try, I wouldn’t ever be able to repay Him. how great is the love.

  24. Carol says

    I’ll add my voice to the chorus: Thanks, Holley for getting right to the core of what is apparently a common thread among the sisterhood – trying to please others instead of our Beloved. I know this, yet I still struggle with it daily. I am single, work a full-time job, care for my aging parents, try to care for my own home as well, and also am fully involved in serving at my church. I feel stretched beyond my limits a lot of the time, and yet all I seem to see is more that needs to be done or more that I would like to do, and then I end up feeling like a failure, not just to others but to God as well. The expectations of others does come into play, especially when I fall into the trap of comparing myself with others. God gives us all different gifts and different places of service, and mine are more of the “working in the background” type, rather than the more “showy spiritual” gifts of teaching, singing, etc., and sometimes I feel like (and am treated like) I’m not as “good” a Christian as others.

  25. says

    I read a lot of blog posts. And honestly, I don’t remember a lot of them. But then one comes along, and even several days after I first read it, I find myself still pondering it. And I know the words are changing me. THIS POST hasn’t left my thoughts. I know the truth here is changing me. Thank you for sharing!

  26. says

    A good friend of mine directed me to your blog and this article after I wrote about being Pulled – http://www.smoothpaths.com – It’s so true how I feel pulled “by other people’s expectations.” I very rarely feel pulled from God, except when He’s pulling me by His side to abide. Thank you for the reminder that Christ didn’t “do everything” for “everybody.” He just did the main thing He was called to do – save us from ourselves. Blessings!

  27. Joe says

    I don’t even know where to begin with this. I won’t waist time on writing too much but I’ll just say this – Don’t take this post and feel alright that you’re not happy with your life, take action. Do something about it.

  28. Stephanie Allen says

    Thank you for posting this. Recently I have been very down, low in spirit and heavy-hearted because I feel like I’m not good enough. I feel like I’m not a good enough mom, wife and friend, not working hard enough at my job, not conversational enough when I speak, not contributing enough to my community, not cleaning my home enough, not fast enough, smart enough, nice enough, Godly enough and the list just goes on and on endlessly.
    Today I began thinking about the differences in living up to MY potential versus living up to God’s potential for me and I came across your blog.
    Thank you for posting this wonderful way of looking at life, expectations, potential and God’s plan for us.

  29. Bella says

    I needed to hear that I AM Enough… Thank you for sharing your thoughts, point of view, what the Lord gave you to give- first to you and then to us. I appreciate you in this crazy world!

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