I have never desired to be ordinary. From the time I was very small, I always wanted to be “different” because to me that was better than being mainstream, blasé, everyday hum-drum. I didn’t like things that were popular and trendy because to me, they seemed to be one-dimensional and short-lived. I wanted things that had depth and meaning and the potential for great discussion. I wanted things that were unique and classic and interesting.
I wanted my life to be the same way. I wanted my life to be a grand adventure with exciting goals and milestones – sprinkled with travels, books, art, and service. I never wanted to “settle” for okay and middle-of-the-road. I wanted life to be a daring act of faith or nothing at all.
And perhaps – yes, perhaps I still love those things and desire some of those goals for my life.
But is that all?
Would I consider my life to be an accomplishment if it was my own version of “extraordinary”? Would I be satisfied with my unique house filled with trappings from travels around the world and evidences of art that I love so much? Would I be happy with outward accomplishments of jobs and houses and cars? Even if I got books published and spoke at well-attended conferences and directed shows and appeared onstage in shows and taught hundreds of adoring children – would that be enough?
Or in my quest to be “extraordinary,” would I have missed out on the most important truth of all –
That the only thing God considers extraordinary is an ordinary heart humbled to walk in relationship with Him?
Over the past several years, I’ve had to come to terms with the painful truth that what I considered to be a quest for extraordinary was actually a quest to make myself better than others and to put myself more on display.
The life I’ve fallen into the past several years has been exciting and fun and daring and adventurous – but has it been to bring me more pleasure and self-satisfaction – so that it makes me a more interesting person – so that it draws more people to me? Call it confidence, call it “being myself,” call it whatever you want. Those fancy terms are only a cover for what it really is – self-centeredness. And although I claim to be living a life for Christ, all I’m doing is saying the words, and loving myself more in my heart as I live the life I want to live.
What would a life truly abandoned to Jesus look like? Not the Americanized “bucket-list” version … not the concert-high, hands-raised, emotional-song version … not the popular-phrase, summer-missions trip, Bible-verse quoting version … not the one that safely gives their ten-percent and a little more at Christmastime … not the one I’ve believed I was living all this time.
Instead, I think that such a sell-out life is a little taste of ordinary. Ordinary people living ordinary lives – but loving God and loving others in the most extravagant, extraordinary way possible. Because yes, it’s exciting to fly across oceans and mountains to new countries and proclaim the Gospel (I love getting to do that) – but the grittier, more self-sacrificing version is staying committed to the place God has called you, and not always looking for an exciting “escape.”
Sometimes faith feels more real when we get out of our everyday lives and go somewhere outside of our comfort zones. I think it’s good to do that every now and again to shake ourselves awake and keep us from becoming complacent.
But life shouldn’t always be a series of hops from one place to the next – seeking the next “faith thrill,” trying to find our satisfaction in being “extraordinary.” Because are we really seeking to serve God in those instances? Or is it a cover to serve our own thirst for self-satisfaction?
Some of the most extraordinary people I know would never claim that title for themselves. They’d say they’re just ordinary people doing what God has called them to. And that’s precisely what makes them extraordinary to me.
They probably won’t end up in history books. They might not even be remembered in a few hundred years, except as names on family trees. But because of them, lives were impacted. Decisions were made, thinking was changed, choices were influenced – and because of them, others grew closer to Christ and then they turned and invested in other people’s lives. They caused ripple effects into eternity, to borrow a phrase from my college pastor.
So now I have to ask myself – “Am I okay with being ordinary?”
Not boring, necessarily. Not stuck-in-a-rut, never changing, never trying anything new.
But living a life of anonymity for Christ. Living a life that may or may not rate high on the world’s success scale. Living a life that places greater value on relationships with people than accomplishments checked off of a list. Living a life that cherishes the Word of God and the souls of man, for those are the only two things that will last into eternity (as my dad has always reminded me).
I am a person who strives for excellence (pursuing excellence … it’s in the name of HYPE, after all). I’m a person who never wants to settle for “good enough,” who always wants to be pushing myself to become better at what I’m passionate about. I’m a person who loves goals and productivity and learning and growing.
I believe that God values those things and that He’s wired me that way on purpose.
But let me never think that what I accomplish is due to my inherent greatness or extraordinary personhood. Anything I do or will do is a gift from God – a reminder that He can do the greatest things with the most ordinary people.
And if I always keep that in mind – that I’m simply an ordinary human on a mission for an extraordinary God – then I can get my ego out of the way and let God do His best work in this vessel.
Soli Deo Gloria