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Ordinary is highly under-rated.

It seems the sincere longing for significance has pushed past contentment in doing a job well done, to that of being a world changer…influencer…and platform-creator. It is not enough, anymore, to do the hard and consistent daily work of investing our lives into meaningful, yet oftentimes, ordinary endeavors. Today, we are driven to be seen…to be heard…to position ourselves for greater significance and greater influence. Ordinary is boring and old-school, and it certainly doesn’t illicit the kind of attention that so many of us are seeking today.

And yet, there is something extraordinary about the ordinary.

My days are not so impressive on the outside. In this season of life, I am in the throes of child-rearing, home-managing and integrating culture into the impressionable minds and hearts of our children. I grocery shop, do the laundry, plan meals for the week, cook, clean, pack lunches, help with homework, create schedules, maintain order, educate my children on the importance of table manners and etiquette (this is never-ending work!), balance the checkbook, keep the budget, go on coffee dates with Joel and the kids, and oversee the day-in/day-out lives of my family, while developing relationships and ongoing connections with the people in our sphere.  It’s not all that exciting.

It is very ordinary.

And while my calendar boasts of a very ordinary life, there is something quite extraordinary happening between the lines and the dates, the appointments and the pen strokes. The lives of our children are being shaped, formed, developed, and discipled. Within the ordinary, God is doing extraordinary work. It is tempting to want to create for myself a profile that makes me look special and significant, but in doing so, it minimizes the good work that is taking place within the constraints of the ordinary. Ordinary is highly under-rated. Ordinary invites the time and space for deeper relationships, honest conversations, and focused attention.

Maybe I am feeling inspired to write this because I need to remind myself of these timeless truths, and maybe there is someone out there that needs to read it too. Maybe we both need the gentle reminder that our significance is not written in the headlines, but rooted in the ordinary work we are doing right now…in this moment…at the dinner table…in the bedtime prayers…in the middle of the meltdown…during those car ride conversations and marathon Lego days…in the tone of that email…or the slow pace of the project we’ve been overseeing. We need that little voice pulling us out of the drive for external significance and back into the precious gift of these ordinary days.

While the world craves more hype, more incentives to participate, more flash, more enticements and rewards, my heart is craving a more quiet and ordinary life. The world is temperamental…it shifts too quickly and too impulsively. The world (and this includes the church/ministry world) is becoming more and more addicted to performance – lights, cameras, action. Trying to keep up with it all creates instability, insecurity and a frenetic pace that eventually leads to burn out. I am, quite bluntly, less impressed with all the hype, glam and glitz, and more drawn to the daily and consistent rhythms of the ordinary.

The world is saying, “Speed up!” and my heart is saying, “Slow down!”.

Christ’s life was, in many regards, ordinary. He talked to his followers, not about how to build a platform or create a movement, but about bearing the weight of the cross. His invitation was to pick up their cross and follow him, and through the New Testament Scriptures, we know where that path led them…not to fame, fortune or a flashy title, but to suffering, marginalization, and death. The ordinary means – producing extraordinary fruit – of walking with people, listening, daily discipleship and the cross of suffering was, and still is, the way of Christ.

Obedience to God’s ways of bringing about the kingdom is the only way, even when those ways seem small, obscure, and weak. Even when no one notices. Even when our kingdom work can’t be captured and packaged for a ready-made inspirational social media update. Someone earnestly desiring to do great things for God can have all the right motives but all the wrong mechanisms. Jesus’ obedience tells us that mechanisms matter – if godly ends are pursued by ungodly means, the whole project will be ruined.

Katelyn Beaty, Celebrities for Jesus

I have thought a lot about the cost of obedience and the return to the ordinary.

Obedience is, in the very truest sense, letting go of our own will and surrendering it to Jesus. There is nothing very glamourous about that. We step off of platforms rather than hoist ourselves up to be seen.

There are men and women caught up in the fast running current of trying to find significance through extraordinary means. There are a great number, I can only imagine, that want to do great things for God, and wrestle with the ordinary days in which they are living. There is an altruistic desire to please God, while at the same time a fear that a hidden life in Christ will amount to being forgotten by the world.

And yet, if we really want to get down to it…to the reality of what following and serving Christ is all about it comes to this:

He must become greater; I must become less.

John 3:30

That statement: I must become less, is not a directive to become less than who God has created you to be; that somehow wallowing in the dirt and lowering oneself to nothingness is the key to pleasing God. But rather, becoming less is putting ourselves in the right order and right place with God. It is releasing the striving and driving towards worldly acceptance and acknowledgement into God’s hands, and taking the ordinary tasks that he gives us each day and carrying them out to the best of our ability so that God gets the glory…God gets the greatness…so that God is seen above our talents, gifts and charisma.

In my ordinary days I find such encouragement when I see that God is using me to disciple and shape our children to follow Christ. That’s a big deal. It’s not always visible to the outside world. This is a slow and weighty work.

Your ordinary will look different than mine, but it is incredibly significant. It is the means by which God will do extraordinary things. It may never make the headlines, and it may never evoke a rush on social media, but if your ordinary work points the world to Christ and brings Him glory, then it is extraordinary.

The significance of the ordinary is not how amazingly we can do it, or how creatively we can brand it; the significance is that this is how God chooses to do his most astounding work; His quiet, steady, and world-changing work. He uses you and me. He takes the materials in our hands, the season of our lives, our brokenness and all of our flaws, and says, “Follow me.”

Stop striving.

Slow down.

Let the God do the extraordinary through our ordinariness.

It is God who makes us significant, not all the kingdoms we create.

Rest in that.

And rest in the precious gift of these ordinary days.

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