Avoiding the mediocre life – Part 2

8 11 2011

“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:6-7)

The book of 2 Timothy was most likely the last letter Paul wrote.  he was is prison and could read the writing on the wall.  He was going to be killed.  Paul could face the end of his life with his head held high.  Paul had live a fulfilling life.  His life had been rich with purpose and meaning.  He did not have an easy life.  Reading his letters you will see he faced trials and frustrations.  He endured many hardships but also had many rewarding experiences.  He had anything but a mediocre life.

Do you have to become a missionary or go into full time ministry in order to avoid having a mediocre life?  No.  What made Paul’s life extraordinary was not what he did.  (In fact, at one point he held a regular job as a tent maker.)  What made Paul’s life extraordinary was putting hs faith in God and letting God take the lead.

Here are some of the things that happen when God takes the lead.  An ordinary man is chosen to be the father of many nations (Abraham).  A man with a speech impediment leads a people out of captivity (Moses).  A shepherd boy defeats a giant and becomes a king (David).  An adulterous woman becomes the mother of the wisest king ever known (Bathsheba).  An unschooled fisherman becomes the first leader of God’s church (Peter).  If you try to figure out why God picked the people he did…good luck.  If we trust that God is focused on who we are (see Avoiding the mediocre life – Part 1) and does extraordinary things through people then we are ready to let God take the lead.

What does that look like?  It means I care more about my relationship with God and the people around me than accomplishments.  My relationship with God is not driven by trying to earn his love but rather by accepting it.  From that perspective, I try to see people the way God sees them and focus my time and energy on their well-being.  It makes sense when we thing about it.  Jesus said everything hangs on these to commandments:  Love God and love others (Matthew 22:37-40).  When I take Jesus at his word, I really see the wisdom and truth in what he said.

Disclaimer:  I must warn you that when we focus on people rather than results we will be hurt and have times of disappointment.  Even Jesus had one of his twelve disciples hurt him.  I could go all the way back to the Garden of Eden and look at the pain God experienced when Adam and Eve chose to follow a lie instead of his guidance.  Humans are messy with the capacity to do great good but also with the capacity to hurt people around them.

Remember we are talking about avoiding the mediocre life and not about having an easy life.  Paul learned to love God and people.  His ministry had ups and downs.  He had frustrations and there were people who hurt him.  But then there was Timothy.  As Paul sat in his prison cell, he did not want the thousands he had shared the gospel with to come and see him.  He did not try to comfort himself by looking at an annual ministry report.  He wanted the one he had shared his life with to come and be with him (2 Timothy 4:21).  Paul’s extraordinary life came from listening to Jesus.  He had loved God and loved others.  he could face death with his head held high.  He had avoided a mediocre life.


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