I am so impressed with the twenty and thirty-something followers of Jesus on mission to help the world alleviate poverty, injustice, and hunger. Rarely does my week pass without hearing such a report on television, in church, or online. I applaud the courage and faith that it takes to follow God’s call and give up home, career, and material goods to accomplish those dreams.
But what about the rest of us who are ordinary people? Do we read about God’s great work and begin to see ourselves as lesser than, incompetent, or lacking faith? Do we feel guilty for being average—going to a job, loving our families, caring for our neighbors, and volunteering in church and community?
I recently read this post: “Being a ‘radical,’ ‘missional’ Christian is slowly becoming the ‘new legalism.’ We need more ordinary God and people lovers,” (Matt. 22:36-40). The author Anthony Bradley explains: “Today’s millennial generation is being fed the message that if they don’t do something extraordinary in this life they are wasting their gifts and potential.”
I don’t know if it is a new legalism, but I do know that it is easy to fall for the lies that tell us that our lives don’t matter in comparison.
I just read the book Kisses from Katie, and I am awed by this young woman who moved to Uganda to follow God’s call on her life. I found myself feeling that my life doesn’t count for much compared to hers. I felt guilty that I hadn’t taken orphans and widows into my home. How could I have wasted my life like this?
Although Katie’s story is inspiring and often convicting, God doesn’t call all of us to the same mission. As we read or hear of such stories, we must remember that there was only one Moses, one Nehemiah, one Daniel, and one Peter. Each of God’s children has a mission, but most of us are simply called to live ordinary lives faithfully. Instead of believing that we make a difference through our conventional lives, however, we impose worldly standards of success as if we are evaluating businesses.
At times those called to big causes seem to suggest that the rest of us should be called to them also. Although I need to be convicted that I have too much when most of the world has little, I don’t need anyone to impose his/her mission on me.
God calls most of us to pursue ordinary lives extraordinarily. God purposes that we show his love to those at work, in our neighborhoods, at our children’s schools, and in our families. We can’t all found a ministry or move to Africa, but we can love others unconditionally, forgive them when they hurt us, and serve them when they have needs. We may never know the difference we will make by being faithful to God’s call to other ordinary, everyday people.
It is time to be set free from comparisons to those called to something great, from guilt over being ordinary, and from feeling unimportant when serving God in everyday ways. Each of us has influence with people and in places where no one else goes, and God has a call for us to grow that influence to make a difference in the world.
As we live that out, we can look forward to hearing Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” (Matt. 25:21).