“Good to Great!” “Smarter, Faster, Better!” “How to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life!” Self-help books abound telling us how we can become smarter, prettier, more likeable, and generally all around amazing so that we will be able to start business empires, become massively popular, and rich!
The reasoning goes, “You don’t want a BORING ordinary life like everyone else do you?! You want EXCITEMENT, purpose, achievement!” This appeals to something within all of us – we love to be recognised for our efforts, and for people to like us and think we’re successful – that is why special occasions such as graduations, birthday parties, or prize giving are cherished events but what about the rest of life? What about the regular, every day routine of life?
The Significance of Insignificance
Josh Wilson is his latest song Dream Small (where I borrowed my title from hee!) says this:
“It's a momma singing songs about the Lord
It's a daddy spending family time that the world said he cannot afford
These simple moments change the world
It's a pastor at a tiny little Church
Forty years of loving for the broken and the hurt
These simple moments change the world.”
These seemingly insignificant things are changing the world - building up a strong family, modeling the faith day in and day out, showing the love of God to people through the ups and downs of their lives.
Jesus did a lot of this, simply spending time with and teaching people – he did a lot of miracles but the main thing he did was simply be with people and communicate God’s truth and love to them day after day, year after year.
Since the 1970’s psychologists have studied marriages and tried to find out what makes them succeed or fail. Among the things they found out was that one indicator for success was how engaged the couples were with each other on a day to day basis – that couples who paid attention to small seemingly insignificant details about each other were the couples likely to have happy marriages.
For example, if one of the couples was a bird watcher, saw a cute bird in their yard and told their spouse, if the spouse stopped what they were doing and came over to see the bird with them that was a positive indicator of marriage longevity.
Everyone wants to start a revolution, but nobody wants to do the dishes!
Craig Greenfield, a Christian author, coined that phrase above (I am definitely standing on the shoulders of ordinary extraordinary giants in this article!) and also said, “Doing justice takes more than a few days. It takes a lifetime commitment to costly and boring, ordinary love.”
Going overseas on a mission trip to bring the gospel to an unreached people group is exciting and really important but do you know what else is equally as important?” Sharing the gospel with your neighbour; the one who smells like smoke, has loud music, and parks in your parking spot on the street.
I struggle with how to interact with some people but I have had some wonderful influences around me and they are subtly teaching me, through their regular everyday love, that the most meaningful things happen when we don’t just throw charity at people and run off but that if we take time to talk to the person and relate to them as a fellow human being then it not only improves their life but our lives as well.
Behind every great person is a team of other people!
Many people will have heard of great historical figures like William Wilberforce, Kate Sheppard, John Calvin, Peter the Apostle, and others but have you heard of – Katherine Hankey, John Hall, Lefevre D’Etaples, or Bartholomew the apostle.
Katharine Hankey was part of the team which campaigned tirelessly against the slave trade, John Hall was a supporter of Kate Sheppard in her work with other suffragettes to get women the vote, Lefevre was a biblical scholar who greatly influenced John Calvin, and Bartholomew was one of the lesser talked about apostles.
All these people contributed to the great achievements that we know so well today – the abolition of the slave trade, the freedom for women to vote in New Zealand, the Protestant Reformation, and the spreading of the gospel to all the world! As Paul the Apostle writes in 1 Corinthians 12:14-20.
“For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.
And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?
But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”
We all have a part to play and no part in life is any more important than any other part (even if some seem more exciting and glamourous). Let us commit today to devote ourselves to being extraordinarily ordinary and praying God uses our humble offering of two fish and five loaves to bring himself glory!
Jessica McPherson is a Press Service International young writer from Christchurch NZ.