(I Strong recommend listening to the podcast above.)
Is there anything wrong with being ordinary?
What if I said you weren’t special?
My guess is I would offend a lot of people and I would receive a plethora of counter examples of people saying, “I am special in God’s eyes” or, “my wife and children think I am special” and all of these would basically be true.
But that’s not really what we mean when we say “Bill is special.” When we say that “Bill is special” or “Bill is exceptional,” we typically mean he stands out amongst the rest of us. Bill would be like King Saul, who stood a foot taller than the rest of the Israelite community.
That’s it. Bill stands out!
Possibly he stands out because of his extraordinary height, muscle mass, skills at bouncing a ball, his ability to speak and draw a crowd. Perhaps he stands out because he is really smart or a business wiz and has loads of money and can buy stuff and is on the front cover of magazines.
Whatever it is, Bill is not ordinary. Bill is special.
And this is where the hurt comes in. If you are not like Bill, then that means you are not special. You are not exceptional. You don’t stand out. And that is life and you can go through life trying to become special and try to stand out, but the vast majority of us will fail, which makes the realization of our lack of specialness all the more salient and therefore painful.
As such, it is not all that surprising that many of you would become upset by me saying, “you are not special.”
But why does this bother you?
Have you become so shallow that you think your worth and meaning comes from being able to “stand out?” Do human opinions matter to you so much that the mere thought of being subpar ignites feelings of insecurity? Are you walking around wishing you could be like Bill?
The basic truth is, if you desire to be special with all your heart, if you long to stand out in a crowd, then there’s a high probability that you are filled with pride and are coveting your neighbor.
Humility teaches us that 99% of us are small fish in a big pond. Let the 1% have their glory. Give praise where praise is due. But stop wasting your time worrying about being special. In the end, the only judgment that matters is the one that God has of you. And rumor has it that God mocks the glory of this world. So let the ninth beatitude be known, “Blessed are the ordinary in heart, for they will be praised by the King of kings.”
Oh, and as far as it goes, there’s nothing special about wanting to be special. Doing so just makes you an extraordinary nincompoop.