I was sitting in my pastor’s office. It was just a normal day and he and I were talking about life in general. He asked me what I dreamt of doing with my life. I told him that I wanted to do something extraordinary. He asked me “why?” I said because I just felt like that’s what I would do. He asked “But, what happens to you if you are not extraordinary? What happens if you are just average?” I said that I didn’t want to be average. He went on to explain that very few people truly live what other’s would call an extraordinary life. I could pursue that goal but it could lead to feeling discouraged and can lead to depression because I didn’t measure up to something that is simply unrealistic.
I didn’t really like what he was telling me. Aren’t pastors supposed to pump you up? Aren’t they the ones who are supposed to tell you to dream big dreams? Yes, sometimes- when pumping us up is based in reality and truth. Fortunately, this pastor was one of my mentors that I had known for over a decade and I had complete trust in him. He knew me pretty well. He knew the pressure I was under to meet some unstated expectation I thought people had of me and the stated expectation I had of myself and the toll it was taking on me. He knew that I just needed to relax, take a deep breath and understand that there were a lot of things I could do and a lot of people I could impact in the ordinariness of life.
Don’t we all want to feel like we are doing something unique and making a difference? I read an article a while back that said that I am a part of a generation that says “I do this, but I want to_______”. I could really relate to that and was glad to know there were many others who felt the same- even though ironically it made me feel even less “unique”.
Most of us have day jobs that pay the bills but we dream of doing something more- something that we’re passionate about. This could be writing a book, traveling somewhere, learning a new skill or starting a fight club. Most of you reading this have a passion inside your heart that you’re not quite sure what to do with but it keeps you awake sometimes and gets your mind racing. It’s what you would do if money weren’t a concern.
But, what if we have a shift in the way we think? What if we stopped pursuing something we view as “extraordinary” and embraced our ordinariness? What would change about our attitude towards ourselves, our family, our job, and our world?
When we embrace our ordinariness we can experience a freedom from stress and anxiety from worrying about things we don’t have or haven’t done. It’s much easier to see the good things around you and to remember all of the things that you have in life to enjoy. But, I know it’s a struggle to let go of the things that we’ve dreamed of for so long. We’ve trained our minds to think in such fantastic ways that anything less seems like settling. It’s easy for us to hold onto our “delusions of grandeur”.
The “prosperity gospel” of the 90’s and early 2000’s left people feeling empty and the only ones who got wealthier were the one’s peddling the message. The book “The Prayer of Jabez” was all about asking God to expand your territory. This was usually implied to mean “healthy, wealthy and wise” even though the author tried to deny that theology it was clear in his message. I didn’t like that message then because it gave people the impression that if God didn’t expand your “influence” or didn’t bless you with wealth then you must be under a curse. What ridiculousness! How many people lost faith all together because of this kind of teaching?
The good news is that we are ordinary- even less than ordinary in some instances. The Bible compares us to pots of clay- some with great purposes and some with ordinary purposes. But, the key to that idea is that we do have purpose-a purpose that was planned out before we were born. We are the clay in the hands of a loving God who is sculpting our lives for His purposes and shaping us into the image of Christ in the ordinariness of our lives.
Jeremiah 18: 1-6 This is the word of the Lord. “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you a message.” So, I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands: so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as the potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand. O house of Israel”
Isaiah 64:8 Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter, we are all the work of your hand.
2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us
Romans 9:20-21 But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common purposes?
Do you need to let go of striving for the extraordinary and embrace the ordinariness of your life?