In Kent and Barbara Hughes’ book Liberating Ministry from Success Syndrome, there is a chapter called “Encouragement from the Ordinary.” This special chapter addresses the encouragement that a person can draw from accepting the “ordinary” qualities which God has bestowed upon everyone.
In our comparison culture, we are self-conscious and ashamed of our weaknesses. We protest and ask God, “Why didn’t You bless me with that personality?” or “Why didn’t you give me that gift or that skill?” or “Why didn’t you make me like that person?” So we accuse God of handicapping us in life as we have seem to have received the short end of the stick.
The, however, book reminds us that there is “glory in the ordinary,” and that God knew what He was doing when He bestowed on us our perceived “disadvantages.” The chapter lists examples that come from the life of Ordinary Andrew whose simple evangelism shook the world, and how humble Gideon led God’s people to victory not out of their own strength, but by God’s power (Judges 7).
The main lesson is this: “God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary work” (Hughes, p. 136). Embracing our “ordinariness” is crucial to our humble service to Christ. We realize that our ministerial effectiveness is based not on our natural talents, but is based on God’s grace alone. For Andrew, “His ordinariness naturally made him aware of his human inadequacy, which, in turn, fostered his dependence upon God, making him extraordinarily useful to God and man” (Hughes, p. 136). And we can be useful too.
There isn’t anything special about us. We don’t stick out in the crowd, and we’re always in the background. And, yes, our weaknesses are evident. We are not smart enough, not quick enough, not focused enough, not disciplined enough, not beautiful enough, not rich enough, not thoughtful enough, and not friendly enough. And the list continues! Yet this is not a proposal to embrace a sinful complacency. Instead, it is a call to embrace God’s power and ability to meet our needs, to use our weakness, and to transform us for usefulness.
This mentality enhances our lives and Gospel ministry. Hughes says, “an awareness of one’s weakness, one’s ordinariness, can be an asset in the gospel ministry, for such an awareness may more easily depend upon the power of God.” (Hughes, p. 137). God’s power shines brighter in the lives of the weak who recognize they are weak.
Thankfully, this also leads to the noise of comparisons quickly fading in the full application of this ordinary truth. Hughes says, “It liberates us from the tyranny of comparison with others and opens our lives to receive the fullness of God’s power.” (Hughes, p. 141). Accepting our disadvantages leads to a freedom that will fill our hearts and liberate our consciences from unbiblical mindsets and idolatrous thoughts of self-exaltation.
Do you have an ordinary life? Remember, there is glory in the ordinary. Do you feel disadvantaged and weak? Remember, God’s glory and power is on full display when He uses the disadvantage to accomplish His purposes.