If you look up the word “average” in the dictionary, chances are you will find my picture. I am the definition of average. I am of average height, average build, drive average 10-13 year old cars, have an average number of children, live in an average community, and pastor an average size church.
So why do I feel like “average” is not good enough?
I pondered that question yesterday afternoon as I was considering which of three books to start reading. Two of the books were sent to me to review while I picked up the third from the local library. Reading the dust covers, I learned the following information about the authors. Gods at War is written by Kyle Idleman, teaching pastor of the fourth largest church in America. The Circle Maker is written by Mark Batterson, lead pastor of one of the 25 most innovative churches. The Customer Rules is written by Lee Cockerell, former executive vice president of Walt Disney World Resort. Not an average person among the bunch. Seems like only extraordinary people write books.
On top of that, the premise of each book is that anything short of extraordinary is unacceptable. Batterson’s book teaches, “Define your dream. Claim your promise. Spell your miracle. Pray circles around your fears.” Cockerell’s book promotes delivering sensational service, regardless of your industry.
I began to wonder if I failed God by simply being stark raving average.
Being average is not very popular these days. When pastors gather, the first thing they do is compare attendance and offering numbers. “How much has your church grown? How many people got saved/baptized this year?” If a church is going to invite a guest speaker, we’d prefer hearing from Peter, who preached and 3,000 came to Christ (Acts 2), rather than Philip, who preached to only one man from Ethiopia (Acts 8). We want to hear from the one who fed 5,000, not the one who carried the five loaves and two fish (John 6). If we had our choice, we want to be the soil that produces a hundredfold rather than the one that produces only thirtyfold (Mathew 13:8, 23).
While we know intellectually that God expects and rewards faithfulness (Matthew 25), we’d prefer being faithfully above average rather than faithfully just average.
Let’s face it, being average is just, well, average.
For more on the subject, here are two previous posts I wrote:
Is it a sin to be average? – May 23, 2008
Redefining ministry success – September 17, 2011