Ordinary Greatness

Posted on February 18, 2014 by


BusyStreetAs a young believer, I was inspired by the early church in the book of Acts because of the numbers of converts.  Likewise, men like Hudson Taylor, Dawson Troutman, Jim Rayburn, Harold Ockenga, and Billy Graham inspired me to accomplish great things for the Lord.  Henrietta Mears and Mother Theresa are also on my list of people who have significantly advanced the Kingdom of God.  These folks were pioneers in a sense, saw large numbers of converts, led large movements, and left lasting marks on modern Christianity and the world in which we live.

In Sensing Jesus :Life and Ministry as a Human Being,  author Zack Eswine shares an excerpt of an ongoing dialog with a young seminary student he mentored.  “The three rival rules – celebrity, consuming, and immediate gratification- teach us to use our days in order to make a name for ourselves by using people and things to make something bigger happen as fast a we can….These rivals form our nemesis.  We need help.  Only God is everywhere, knows everything, and can fix everything.  Our foolhardy attempts at his glory teach us to orient our days misguidedly.  This way of ordering our pastoral ministry will slowly ruin us and those we try to serve.  We and they may be and feel “successful,” but we will little resemble the way of Jesus.  Jesus has a different way of being in mind for us.  His grace has a mentoring to it.  He intends to recover his place, and therefore, to put us back into ours.  He died and rose to do this.”

Are you content being ordinary?  “[God] brings about His will through the instrumentality of ordinary people making ordinary decisions such as the best way to teach their children the Bible or how they can reach their next-door neighbor with the gospel.  The Lord uses the ordinary to do the extraordinary.”  (Table Talk Magazine, Oct 2013, p53)  Consider the shepherds to whom an angel of the Lord appeared. They responded immediately and traveled to Bethlehem to witness the Lord Jesus.  How did this remarkable encounter with the living God impact them?  Did they set up speaking engagements around Palestine?  Were they thrust into the limelight?  Luke 2:20 says, “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”  The shepherds went back to work.  What a great example for us.  “Seeing God’s glory, hearing his voice, receiving his good news, and beholding his love was never meant to deliver us from ordinary life and love in a place – it was meant to preserve us there,” writes Eswine.

Place matters to God, and He has a place for you to serve.  (Acts 17:26)  Longing for a larger stage, greater influence, or a more important assignment will lead to discontent.   Leading successful ministry is a wonderful thing; however, spending our selves to reach celebrity status will leave us frustrated, disappointed, or disillusioned.  As leaders, we need to guard against the tendency to define greatness the same way that our society does.  We should endeavor to live in a way that honors the Lord, and we start by loving the people in the very places we live today. Be great in the ordinary!