In our church prayer meeting just last night, we were praying about the fact that it is not in the great exciting moments of conferences or big events in which the Christian faith is truly lived out, but rather in the daily grind, the mundane, the regular routine of getting up in the morning, saying, “In the name of Jesus, left leg, get out of bed! Right leg, you too!”, then doing every day the simple, unexciting things you have been given to do– dressing and going to work, seeing the same people every day in the same location within the same walls, and doing it over and over again. It’s in changing diapers for the pleasure and honor of Christ. Or taking care of your home, your family, your health, your normal and routine life– doing the little things faithfully and well. Living with regular and real faithfulness in your local church, loving the brethren and walking with them. It’s not in attending conferences or doing something exciting, but in living out a normal life where you have been put, and doing that with joy and contentment–that is what glorifies Jesus Christ the most. God’s glory will be seen the most through me when I get past thinking I might be a John Piper one day and just be me to the fullest extent. My impact will not be in my changing a nation single-handedly, but in living as a real Christian in front of my wife and children.
Is there exciting emotion in rising at 4:00 or 5:00 am and driving in the dark morning hours to a factory or on a freeway to a building to do menial tasks that no one seems to appreciate or notice? The fact is, most all of us will never be known for anything other than this– what kind of person were we? what kind of life did we truly live day in and day out? were we faithful, kind, genuine, trustworthy, committed, dependable, real, and humble? Is fame or faithfulness more attractive to me?
I thought about a certain famous actor and how many people would probably choose to spend a day with that person if they could choose only one. Simply because they are famous. Then I thought about that same actor and remembered that they primary thing about his private life is that he is totally committed to a religious cult that deceives millions of people. So why would anyone in their right mind choose such a person as their number one pick? Simply because they’re famous, no other reason.
The problem is this– we still have in our minds a wrong view of true greatness. It is not the Brad Pitts, Tom Cruises, Oprahs, Joel Osteens, and Katie Courics of this world that have true greatness.
Its the mother no one knows about who really cares for here children month after month and gives the strength of her years to raising them.
Its the father who goes to work every day in a place no one has heard of and earns a living to provide.
Its a teacher who prepares lesson plans regularly to teach and impact 20 kids, helping them to go to college, and living like the Saviour before their watching eyes.
Its the faithful deacon who does the many unseen things every week to serve the saints month after month and year after year, and in doing so, he is serving the Saviour and storing up riches in a heavenly kingdom.
Its the loving and committed pastor who prepares and preaches to ten or twenty people and sees it just as important as preaching to two thousand, because he does it for the eternal welfare of their souls and he does it unto Christ. He will never be on tv and doesn’t want to be. He’s not building a big kingdom and doesn’t want to.
These are the real heroes, the really great ones.
Kevin DeYoung has hit the nail on the head when he says:
“Until we are content with being one of the million nameless, faceless church members and not the next globe-trotting rock star, we aren’t ready to be a part of the church. In the grand scheme of things, most of us are going to be more of an Ampliatus (Rom. 16:8 or Phlegon (v. 14) than an apostle Paul. And maybe that’s why so many Christians are getting tired of the church. We haven’t learned how to be part of the crowd. We haven’t learned to be ordinary. Our jobs are often mundane. Our devotional times often seem like a waste. Church services are often forgettable. That’s life. We drive to the same places, go through the same routines with the kids, buy the same groceries at the store, and share a bed with the same person every night. Church is often the same too — same doctrines, same basic order of worship, same preacher, same people. But in all the smallness and sameness, God works — like the smallest seed in the garden growing to unbelievable heights, like beloved Tychicus, that faithful minister, delivering the mail and apostolic greetings (Eph. 6:21). Life is usually pretty ordinary, just like following Jesus most days. Daily discipleship is not a new revolution each morning or an agent of global transformation every evening; it’s a long obedience in the same direction.
It’s possible the church needs to change. Certainly in some areas it does. But it’s also possible we’ve changed — and not for the better. It’s possible we no longer find joy in so great a salvation. It’s possible that our boredom has less to do with the church, its doctrines, or its poor leadership and more to do with our unwillingness to tolerate imperfection in others and our own coldness to the same old message about Christ’s death and resurrection. It’s possible we talk a lot about authentic community, but we aren’t willing to live in it.”
I am thinking now of two men who I respect as much as any people I have ever known. One is a retired teach who has lived the Christian life in a deep, consistent, and rich way while teaching school daily for probably forty years. He has never really traveled that much, is not known outside the sphere of his own circle, has never written a book or been interviewed, and has never been on the conference circuit as a speaker. Yet his life has been a powerful force in the lives of many other Christians. Just because of the way he has lived his life while simply plodding on. His life has shown that the kingdom of God is not in words, but in power and in living it out quietly and irresistibly.
The other man was a simple, faith-filled preacher. He usually preached in churches of 100 or less, often in churches that had less than 30 people in them. He was never known outside his own little circle of churches and friendships. He never wrote a book and did not read many books outside the Bible. But he read the Bible through probably over 100 times in his lifetime. He prayed hours daily. He loved others and lived a simple, yet amazing life of faith, and saw God do amazing things that few get to see. The famous preachers today would never have heard his name. Yet he out-shined and out-lived them all. Just because he plodded on, not desiring to be somebody, but desiring to know Someone and truly live for Him.
It’s those guys who I want to be like. There really is something to be said for plodding on in an unseen way, to the glory of God. The glory is not in being known or doing something “great” for which you will be remembered. The glory is in living for Jesus daily, consistently and to just keep plodding on, even if no one ever knows who you are.
– Mack Tomlinson