Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Breaking Free From a Culture of Mediocrity

(The River Raisin in Monroe)

Today I spoke to our ministry school students about breaking free from a culture of mediocrity. I challenged them, not to compare themselves with others or try to be better than others, but to do their best in the things God has called them to do. Paul told his young mentoree Timothy to “do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (1 Timothy 2:15)

This morning I led worship at our church from 9 - 9:30 AM. There was a handful of people there. I’ve played and performed before several thousand, and in front of a few. Every time I do something like this I give it my all, my very best. In this regard numbers mean nothing. Why? Because, as a God-believer and follower of Jesus, whatever I do I do before, not people, but an audience of One; viz., before God. Long ago I learned that God gives it all for me; therefore I am to give my very best back to God. Have I done this every time? No. But every day of my life, whether I meet with people helping them or leading worship or teaching or being a husband, my goal is to give it my best.

In my MCCC philosophy of religion classes I give oral exams. Students meet with me personally, I ask them questions about the materials covered in class. This way I can find out if they really have studied the stuff. One time one of my students who was a Christian walked in to the oral exam. They were carrying a Bible. They hadn’t studied. I failed them. I found myself wishing they didn’t walk around carrying a Bible if they weren’t going to work hard and do their best at whatever God has called them to do. In short, the question for that kind of person is: has God called you to be in college? If the answer is “yes,” then act like it. Otherwise, it’s an embarrassment. At least, I felt embarrassed by that kind of mediocrity. I told them “I’m expecting a lot more out you - you’re better than that.”

I meet some Christians who want to do big things for God but could care less about excellence in all the small things of life. I don ‘t think God’s going to entrust them with big things unless they do their best in all the small things God calls them to do. And I won’t trust them with responsibility either. God is looking for servants. In servanthood, size doesn’t matter. Watch out for Christians who want to do big stuff for Jesus but won’t do the dishes in their own home.
I don’t want my students to be mediocre. Again, this has nothing to do with being “the best”; it’s all about doing your best for Jesus. In everything he calls you to do.

By the way, that Christian student looked at me after I told them “you just failed this exam,” and they said: “I’m not going to disappoint you the next time.” Good. More than that, I don’t want them to disappoint the God who sent his Son to bleed and die so that this student might live.

Some families, some environments, breed mediocrity. If that’s the culture you grew up in or now live in, choose to break free from that. You won’t need to rationalize the mediocrity any more. God wants you to love him with ALL your heart, soul, mind, and strength. That’s where the real blessings lie.