With both kids attending kindergarten, it is time for me to find some part-time work. As I update my resume, I have this constant voice telling me, “you are not good enough. Your achievement is so little. How are you going to stand out?”
In life, we are often told or have an inner voice to tell us we need to be special. Even in marketing, you need to be different than anyone else. If you are just like everyone else, why would they choose you?
And as we continue to strive to be better than others and to sell ourselves, I start to question what all this is about.
What if I am just ordinary? With skillsets that are not great in particular?
Yes, I hear the idea that, oh everyone is unique and has a gift they can offer. It is true. I am not saying no to that. But I think this idea of being extraordinary, or pursuing it, can be suffocating.
I noticed many young people these days. They have great achievements and great skills and abilities. Yet, they feel more lost than ever and feel more depressed. If mere achievements and enough stuff refresh our soul, this generation should be the happiest and most satisfied. But we are not; mental health is a big topic, especially among the young generation.
I was flipping through Instagram stories the other day. There was a Shaolin monk telling everyone the reason why our generation is so depressed and filled with low self-esteem is that we are weak. We need to toughen our mindset and be strong. Then we can overcome these mental health issues.
Does that work? We just need to try harder.
I find the other to trying to build up yourself can be exhausting. It is an almost endless cycle of doing one thing after another.
The pursuit of extraordinary is like the ring in The Fellowship of the Rings. It is very attractive but the minute you started to pursuit it, you are enslave by it.
If you are still reading, you may think, but Cliff, you ain’t ordinary. You had a liver transplant. You did an Ironman triathlon. You went on mission trips. You did _______ (insert all I have done). How can you say you are ordinary?
Haha, to be honest, I don’t think doing an Ironman is so hard. If I can do it, anyone can do it.
I am asking what is wrong with being ordinary. Ordinary does not mean you are lazy. As a stay-at-home dad, I felt very ordinary for the past few years. And I struggle with it. But I started to ask myself, why? Why do I fill with so much shame about this role? Even though I do enjoy it.
Then I realized it is okay to be ordinary. It is okay because I followed an extraordinary God.
I think of Paul when he said in 1 Corinthians 2:3 that he came to the Corinth church speaking in “…weakness with great fear and trembling.” Paul preached out of his weakness and not his strength. He showed them the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:4). In this letter and the epistle of Second Corinthians, Paul spent considerable time proving to the Corinthians that he was indeed an apostle. Why? Because the Corinthians thought he wasn’t eloquent enough to be an apostle.
When I was younger, I used to think I had to do something great to evangelize. But being 42, I realized the ‘great’ works I have done are not so meaningful. What’s more meaningful is seeing His name lifted up.
I also thought about Hudson Taylor, the great missionary who went to China to preach the gospel. A person who met him described him along the line that he ain’t a great preacher or minister, but he had a deep faith.
In essence, Hudson Taylor is just an ordinary person. But his faith is not in his talent but his faith is in the faithfulness of God. And that alone is the game-changer.
For me, I am still learning to be comfortable with being ordinary. I am still learning what it means to not trust in my faithfulness in God but trust in God’s faithfulness.
There is nothing wrong with being ordinary. Our world may not celebrate the ordinary. But we have an EXTRAordinary God we can follow. I rather pursue an extraordinary God than be a slave of the extraordinary.