He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. Isaiah 53:2
“Mom, I’m just so frustrated. There were too many people there, so I didn’t get the golden egg. I just wish I could win.” Ugh. I have heard this complaint too many times recently to count. I bent down to eye level with my five and a half year old, squared my shoulders and said, “Son, you are not always the best. You will not always win. There will always be someone better than and someone not as good as you. Besides that, it wasn’t even a competition; there was no golden egg. It was all just for fun! Please try to be content with what you found and don’t worry about what other people found.” As he sulked away with that fake pout we all know makes him look like I have thrown out his favorite toy, I thought about how I could help him turn all that fierce, negative competitiveness into positive determination. I did not want him to feel so defeated that he would never try again, but I did want him to see that his best will not look like everyone else’s best. I also wanted him to have a healthy perspective of competition and know how to be a gracious winner – and loser.
Let us be clear – I know exactly from whom this trait was inherited. I will tell you right now that I am still not always the most courteous competitor. However, I am immensely grateful for the lesson my parents taught me in that whatever I put my hand to, I need to always do my best and know for whom I am doing it. It does not matter if anyone sees me, or if I surpass everyone else – if I am doing right and serving others, I am winning. I know exactly what my son was feeling. He wanted to be the best! He wanted that feeling of accomplishment and pride when he had achieved the maximum outcome before anyone else. He wanted to feel important and special and acknowledged. I am not sure whether that desire stems from an inner drive or if he feels compelled by his environment to seek those things, but one thing is for sure – he wants to be extraordinary. The fastest, strongest, smartest, most “-est” super hero you have ever met. So now, I am trying to show him all the “ordinary” things and people that make up extraordinary things and events. In other words, watch me while I knock my son down a peg.
We see countless examples in scripture of ordinary people doing ordinary things that had significant outcomes. The midwives in Egypt delivering live baby boys. Rahab, a prostitute, choosing to hide a few spies. Joseph, a carpenter, marrying a pregnant girl. Zechariah, a priest, naming his son John. Joseph, a rich council member from Arimathea, donating the family tomb. Lois and Eunice teaching a little boy about The Way. All those people acting in secret or in seemingly normal, ordinary ways helped pave the way for God’s kingdom to be established. I love that God uses the ordinary to make the extraordinary happen for His glory.
I want my children to be ordinary too. I pray daily that they are blessed to grow just as Jesus did:
- In the wisdom of the scriptures and gain knowledge that will enable them to use their talents for good.
- In stature – healthy and strong in all aspects to provide for themselves, their future families, and to help support the work of the body of Christ here on earth.
- And to be recognized favorably by God and their fellow man – humble, faithful, dependable, honest, hard working servants.
The best way to teach them these ideals? Example. I could preach all day long to my sons about the virtues of being considerate or humble, but if I cannot show them those things living in me every day, they will not see the importance. I know I will not always succeed in showing the best examples of these principles, but I have confidence that others will. My boys will be looking to others in their lives to observe the qualities they exhibit and seem important to them. While they are young, it is easy for me to surround them with a network of people who share our beliefs and will guide them on their journey. But as they get older, it will be their job to align themselves with those who will disciple, rebuke, and encourage them as they live their own lives. I pray for those people too – those future teachers and admonishers who will strengthen the bond between my children and their Savior.
All these ideals, however, in no way align with what “the world” will tell them ordinary is, or where their value lies. Ordinary to the world is boring, undeserving, unhappy, and useless. The world will tell them that instead of being ordinary they need prestigious educations to acquire lucrative careers to receive everything they deserve and will make them successful in life. They will need to create a legacy for themselves and make sure their names are on everyone’s lips, regardless of how that happens. The world will say Do what makes you happy instead of Do what makes you Holy. They will need fame, notoriety, and money for the world to tell them they are more than ordinary – they are special and valuable. So in the world’s eyes, I hope my children are nothing but ordinary. I hope they are content to be behind the scenes, gaining no personal recognition or prestige, but striving to please the Lord and profit only for Him.
I do believe that if (when) they achieve this trifecta of growth, they may make names for themselves on an earthly scale. Many people within the body of Christ are “famous” or have a household name because they have grown in favor with their fellow man. These people have the opportunity to be salt and light in a big, big way – which could possibly be a blessing and a curse. Nevertheless, I hope that, as Paul states in Philippians 3, my sons will count their personal gains as “loss for the sake of Christ” and “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
So I’m calling you out, world. Leave my ordinary young men to their ordinary work. They are still growing in wisdom, stature, and favorableness and do not need your interference or your “extra” for their ordinary to be enough. They have an amazing support system in place and I look for God to make their ordinary lives more extraordinary than you could possibly imagine.
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