says, ďDo you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand
before kings, he will not stand before unknown menĒ (NKJV).
Thatís all well and good, but excellence is really quite
overrated. The fact is, only a minority of people can excel. I
mean, if everybody were doing it, then it would no longer be
excelling would it? Most people rarely perform above average.
After all, it is called average because that is the way most
people are. Therefore, I have decided to go with the majority and
set my goal to be average, mediocre, unremarkable. To that end, I
have come up with a very simple plan for mediocrity. I want to
share 11 Ways to Be an Unremarkably Average Christian.
Equate Christianity with ďgoing to church.Ē
Obviously, the most important passage in the whole Bible is
10:25. We must not forsake the assembling of ourselves
together as is the habit of some. When the doors are open (whether
we have only one longer assembly on Sunday or two shorter ones) I
need to be there. But, having done that, why worry about anything
else. As long as Iím ďgoing to churchĒ and especially if it
is a church that is dotting all the iís and crossing all the
tís about the pattern of worship and work, everything else is
gravy. Donít worry about it.
I know II
Timothy 2:15 says I need to do my best to be a worker that
handles the word accurately. Surely a couple of hours a week ďat
churchĒ is enough work for anyone. Just hearing the preaching
and coming to the Bible classes should cut it for me. I know the
Bereans were more noble because they studied the Scriptures daily
17:11. But who wants to be more noble when mediocrity is
available for the easy taking. I know the Jerusalem Christians
spent time together outside the assemblies all on their own
without being assigned on an almost daily basis in Acts
2:46. But why would we want to do that when we already get
to see each other three times a week? We might get tired of each
other if we spent more time together.
Further, why on earth would I ever need to apply the things
I hear in these sermons to my family life, work life, school life
or relationships? As long as I ďgo to churchĒ whenever the
doors are open and especially if I make all the gospel meetings
and special services like VBS and singings, those other things
will surely be optional. As long as I apply passages like Ephesians
4:22-32 when I am in this building, Iím probably going
to be ok. Surely, there is no need to be extreme and think I need
to be impeccably honest at work. There is no need to be above
average and remove bitterness and wrath from my marriage and
relationships. There is no need to be remarkable by keeping my
speech pure while at school.
Only those who want to excel at serving Christ will try to
put the Bibleís teaching into practice everywhere. For the rest
of us, willing to settle for being an unremarkably average
Christian, we can get by with just ďgoing to church.Ē
Only do what the preacher proves I absolutely have to do.
How many times do I have to make the assemblies? How many
of the Gospel Meeting services do I have to attend? How much time
do I need to spend praying? Do I really have to teach a Bible
class to go to heaven? How short can those shorts be? How
revealing can my clothes be? How much alcohol am I allowed to
drink? How much money can I gamble at the casino or on lottery
tickets? These are all questions folks struggle with trying to
draw lines to make sure they are being good enough to go to
heaven. After all, I want to be spiritual, but I want to have a
little fun on the way. Letís not get too extreme, I might run
off some people.
I know James
4:8 says I should be drawing near to God. But drawing near
to the lines I have drawn, especially if they are stricter than
the lines the denominations draw, that ought to be good enough for
me. I know Philippians
2:12-13 says I should work out my salvation with fear and
trembling, but that is so old-school. This isnít the 1950s for
crying out loud. I know Jesus demonstrated the laws revealed in
Godís word also prohibit the attitudes and actions leading up to
violating the specific statements in passages like Matthew
5:21-22; 27-28. But that is only for people who want to
take obeying God really seriously. I mean, who in their right mind
would want to be like the sinful woman of Luke
7:37-38 going to such an extreme when they could be like
Simon, the extremely righteous Pharisee, of Luke
7:36, 44-46, who had followed the letter of the Law on
hospitality? I mean, Jesus couldnít really prove from the Law
hospitality meant washing someoneís feet or greeting with a
Only those who want to excel at serving Christ will try to
surrender to Godís will and go all out in it. For the rest of
us, willing to settle for being unremarkably average Christians,
we can get by with just doing what the preacher can absolutely
prove we have to do.
Fit spirituality in around everything else going on in my
We are busy people these days. We have to get the kids to
school. We have jobs. We have PTA. We have sports. We have camps.
We have our favorite tv shows. We have vacations to take. Not to
mention we have major commutes to all these things. Then there are
the Titans, the Predators and the Sounds (okay, maybe nobody keeps
up much with the Sounds). We have to eat, brush our teeth and try
to get some sleep in the middle of all this. The fact is, the
Bibleís demands werenít written for 21st century
Christians. Times change. If the average Christian can just fit in
a little Bible reading every couple of weeks, a few laser prayers
when things are particularly bad and most of the assemblies and
classes we offer, they ought to be pretty good.
I mean, the Lord can surely understand Jr. has a commitment
to his baseball or football team. Surely God knows I need the
extra work to pay for the house we bought in which we hope one day
to start being hospitable. Surely Jesus realizes studying for my
English final is more important than studying my Bible just for
I know Jesus said I should seek first His kingdom and
righteousness in Matthew
6:33. But letís keep that within reason. I can seek
first His kingdom and righteousness right after I have made sure
my kids have passed their ACTs with flying colors, my childrenís
college tuition is fully funded, my retirement is set straight, my
cars are paid for and my work and recreation commitments are
Only those who want to excel at serving Christ will put
seeking Godís kingdom and righteousness ahead of absolutely
everything. For the rest of us, willing to settle for being
unremarkably average Christians, we can get by with seeking it
first after some of these earthly priorities.
Overextend myself financially.
Finances are tough these days. With the rising cost of gas
and health care, it is tough to make ends meet. That is especially
true if I have bought a house using the highest possible mortgage
for which I could qualify and then have it leveraged to the hilt.
Obviously, I need two reliable cars. Public schools are awful; so
if I can possibly get our kids into private that would help. And
why settle for the TV I bought 7 years ago when Best Buy has the
latest Plasma flat screen that would fit so nicely in my living
room. That computer I have sitting on my desk is out of date. Not
to mention the iPhone I purchased back in February is now
obsolete. And my furniture is hideously outdated and broken down.
Here is the great thing, I have run the numbers and figured out I
can actually afford the payments on all those things. (By the way,
Iím saying all this for me more than for anyone else). Of
course, there are some who donít live extravagantly, but after
they put money away for their kidís education, for retirement,
their rainy day fund, paying down their house so they can live the
Dave Ramsey debt free dream, there just isnít much extra for the
I know the Bible says the borrower is the lenderís slave
22:7. But really, how bad can slavery really be. I know
Jesus acted like that poor widow woman who gave all she had to
support the work in the temple was such a great example in Luke
21:1-4. But honestly, who wants to take financial advice
from a broke widow. I know II
Corinthians 8:1-5 made it seem like the Macedonian
Christians had done such a great thing when they gave
sacrificially to help their brethren in Judea. But letís be
real, who in their right mind would sacrifice from their own
income especially when they are in poverty to give that much for
people they donít even know. I know Hebrews
13:16 says God is pleased when we sacrifice by sharing
what we have with others. But Iím sure He understands after I
pay my monthly bills, I donít have anything to share. In fact,
Iím stretched so thin I wish others would share with me.
Only those who want to excel at serving Christ will put
Jesusí work first financially. For the rest of us, willing to
settle for being unremarkably average Christians, weíll get to
supporting the Lordís work once we get some of these other
really important things taken care of.
When someone strikes me, Iíll hit him back.
Vengeance is natural. Besides, some people just need to be
punished for the way they treat me. If I donít look out for me,
who will? I mean, listen, Iím not a violent person. Iím not
going to go around hitting people. But buddy, if my wife yells at
me, you better believe Iím going to yell back. If the checkout
clerk at Wal-Mart was snotty with me, I can give as good as it
gets. If one of my co-workers slanders me behind my back, they had
better watch theirs. I can put up with a lot, but there comes a
line and if you cross it, you had better watch out. I donít get
revenge, I get even and Iím not even until Iím one up.
I know Jesus said if someone slaps me on my right cheek I
should turn the other one to him in Matthew
5:39. I know He said I should love my enemies and pray for
them in Matthew
5:44. I know
Paul said vengeance was Godís and I needed to overcome evil with
good in Romans
12:18-21. I know Peter said I was called to bless those
who revile me in I
Peter 3:9. But Jesus, Paul and Peter clearly hadnít seen
my circumstances. They didnít realize how bad it would be for
me. Had they been able to look forward and know what I was going
through, they would know Iím an exception to the rule.
Only those who want to excel at serving Christ will strive
to submit to others even when they wrong us. For the rest of us,
willing to settle for being unremarkably average Christians, when
someone hits us, weíre going to hit them back.
Never confess to my brothers and sisters.
It is really bothersome to hear all these people today talk
about how we need to start sharing with each other our deepest
struggles and even confess our sins to one another. I mean really,
what makes those people think it is any of their business.
Obviously, if I have done anything really bad and it has brought
shame and reproach on the church, I should go forward and let them
know I realize it was wrong, apologize and promise to never sin
again (as if thatís possible). But who do they think they are
saying I should bear my soul with my struggles and sins to someone
else. As far as Iím concerned, that sounds too much like the
I know James
5:16 says I should confess to my brothers and sisters. I
know that is not talking about ďgoing forward,Ē but about
finding supportive brethren who will help me overcome sin and pray
with me. I know James said that would heal my sin sickness, which
really means it is not a question about whether anyone else has
the right to know but about whether or not I really want help to
overcome my sin. But, Iím sorry, Iíd really rather just keep
struggling on the inside with all the shame, guilt, bitterness,
resentment and more sin that causes instead of letting the light
shine on my problems and getting the support I need from brethren
because, I know if I confess, sooner or later someone is going to
betray me. Iíd rather just sit here in the pain by myself and
hope it eventually goes away than take the chance of getting help
from someone else.
Only those who want to excel at serving Christ and
overcoming sin will shed the light on their inner selves by
confessing to their brethren. For the rest of us, willing to
settle for being unremarkably average Christians, we will hold all
our struggles and pain on the inside.
Forgive only when others have earned it and never say Iím
So many people have hurt me. I donít just mean kind of
hurt. I mean really hurt. Frankly, thatís just not right. How
dare those people think they can just turn around and ask for
forgiveness and I just give it to them? And donít expect me to
say Iím sorry. The fact is, it just wasnít my fault. If they
hadnít done what they did, I wouldnít have done what I did.
Donít expect me to grant forgiveness until theyíve earned it
and donít expect me to apologize.
I know Jesus said if I forgive others, God will forgive me
and if I donít forgive others He wonít in Matthew
6:14-15. But I think that just meant in the small things
that donít really matter very much. He canít possibly have
meant the big things that have hurt me so badly. I mean, some of
these folks might as well have just killed me. I know when Jesus
hung on the cross, He prayed God would forgive the folks who were
killing Him in Luke
23:34. But, He was God. Surely He canít expect someone
who is just a human like me to be that forgiving. I know Jesus
said I should go to my brother when I know he is upset at me about
something and make amends in Matthew
5:23-26. I know that passage doesnít grant any
exceptions for if that brother had also done something to me. But
I just donít think God will hold it against me if I wait for the
other guy to apologize first. It really isnít my fault and I
shouldnít be expected to make the first move.
Only those who want to excel at serving Christ will offer
forgiveness and say they are sorry. For the rest of us, willing to
settle for being unremarkably average Christians, we will hold
grudges until folks prove they deserve forgiveness and we will
never admit our wrongs and humbly apologize for them at least not
until others apologize first.
Never change my opinion about anything.
Iíve got all the answers figured out to all the questions
that matter. So donít expect me to ever change my opinion on
anything. In fact, Iím so sure Iím already right, there is no
need for you to even try to tell me your opinions, thoughts and
beliefs. Why listen to you when Iím already right?
Okay, okay, I know James
1:19 says I should be quick to hear and slow to speak. And
yes, I know II
Peter 1:5-8 demonstrates I really do still have to grow in
knowledge. I understand Acts
15 shows sometimes people who are really convinced they
are right can be wrong and need to change their opinions. But,
honestly, thatís not me. Iíve already changed my opinions once
when I became a Christian. I learned the truth and now for me to
remotely listen to anyone who disagrees with me means to
compromise the truth I found back then. I know Apollos stands out
as a stellar example of someone who was really close, really smart
and very eloquent but was still wrong about some things in Acts
18:24-28. But that was about baptism and I know Iím not
wrong on that one. Besides if I ever actually listen to anyone who
disagrees they may prove me wrong from the Bible and I would have
to change my opinion. Iím not going to do that.
Only those who want to excel at serving Christ know the
truth has nothing to fear and therefore can listen intently and
with understanding to those who disagree and then change their
opinions when proven wrong. For the rest of us, willing to settle
for being unremarkably average Christians, we donít ever want to
listen to anyone with whom we disagree and we certainly donít
want to change our opinions on anything, ever (accept maybe little
bitty tiny things that donít matter).
Never talk to others about spiritual things.
I ďgo to churchĒ every week, usually multiple times. As
far as Iím concerned that is enough talk about spiritual things
for a weekís time. I mean, after two Bible classes and two
sermons what else is there to talk about. I donít get together
very often with other Christians, but when I do, I donít want to
waste time talking about what we already discussed in Bible class.
I donít really want to know what they studied this week. If
itís that important, they can bring it up in our next class. I
want to talk about things that are really important and really
impact my everyday life. I want to talk about work, the Titans,
the stock market, the baseball draft. I certainly donít want
spiritual things to creep into my conversation when Iím talking
to non-Christians. They will think Iím some kind of Jesus freak
extremist. I obviously donít want to go out on a limb and invite
them to anything we are doing within the congregation or try get
together with them and read the Bible or study it. If they are
interested in that, they will visit on their own or let me know.
I know Jesus said if I want Him to confess me to His
Father, I need to confess Him to others in Matthew
10:32-33. But when He said that, He didnít know the
religious and social climate we would be facing today. I know He
wants me to acknowledge Him to others, but surely He only wants me
to do it when I am absolutely sure folks wonít think Iím crazy
or some kind of religious nutball. That kind of publicity for Him
would be bad. I know the Philippian jailer and his entire
household were converted in Acts
16:25-34 because Paul and Silas were willing to
demonstrate their spirituality openly to others. But, come on,
they were already in jail. Itís not like it could get any worse
for them, was it? I know Paul said he persuaded others because he
knew the fear of the Lord in II
Corinthians 5:11. But I think the fear of the Lord is over
blown these days. We need to remember that God loves us. Itís
not like He is going to punish us if we donít do what He has
asked, is it? I know James
5:19-20 says if we see someone not walking in the truth
and we bring them back, we save their soul from death. And if I
were certain they would listen, I would talk. But I would probably
just push them further away, so I will keep my mouth shut.
Those who want to excel at serving Christ and bringing
others to forgiveness will talk to others about spiritual things.
For the rest of us, willing to settle for being unremarkably
average Christians, we will keep our mouths shut.
Donít get out of the boat.
One of the oddest stories in the Bible to me is when Peter
saw Jesus walking on the water and then, as if this was possible,
asked Jesus to let him come out on the water too in Matthew
14:25-32. I mean, that was really just crazy. He could
have drowned. I guess for a moment he was able to experience the
thrill of walking on the water. But consider the humiliation when
he failed and started sinking. I know those guys who stayed in the
boat didnít get to walk on the water, but they didnít almost
drown either. Peter sure was lucky Jesus reached him in time.
I donít like taking chances. I donít like stepping out
in faith too much. Iíd rather only do the things Iím certain
will work. If some folks think it is a little too off the wall or
just not going to work, then Iím willing just to sit back and
not do anything. Look, I know that one talent man was rebuked for
doing nothing with his talent in Matthew
25:24-28, but I really wouldnít accomplish anything. I
would be like Peter, getting out of the boat and sinking. So,
Iíll just play it safe and stay inside the boat, thank you very
much. I know Paul said we walk by faith and not by sight in II
Corinthians 5:7. But I think that can be carried too far.
If things look like they are going to go badly, they probably
will. I donít want to step out and just do what God says if I
canít see the reward within my grasp. Iíll just play it safe,
stay in the boat, not take any risks. If I donít ever accomplish
much for the kingdom. Thatís okay. Iíll just remind God that
if He wanted more out of me, He should have made me at least the
Those who want to excel at serving Christ will get out of
the boat. For the rest of us, willing to settle for being
unremarkably average Christians, weíll just stay in the boat
where it is safe.
Never worry about being average, no one will ever question
me about it.
I know when I follow this very simple plan, I will never be
anything more than an unremarkably average Christian. I will never
accomplish great things in Godís kingdom. I will never serve Him
excellently as He deserves. For all I know, it might even cost me
my soul. But Iím relying on His grace to save me anyway. But
Iím not worried about this. If youíre following this plan, you
donít need to worry either.
Here is the great thing, when I follow this plan, no one
else will ever care. No one will ever feel threatened by what I do
or say. No one will ever feel challenged by what I do or say. No
one will ever be made to feel uncomfortable by what I do or say.
No one will ever be upset by what I do or say. No one will ever
call the elders and complain about what I do or say. No one will
ever even be influenced by what I do or say. I will be able to
just float along without attracting much attention. I wonít rock
anybodyís boat so no one will rock mine. No one will complain
about me or be upset by how Iím living. Well, except for those
Christians who are trying to excel. But they are such a minority,
who really cares what they think?
If I am just an unremarkably average Christian, no one will
ever attack me, castigate me, deride me, persecute me or oppress
me. No one will ever try to put me down. No one will ever take
issue with what I say. No one will ever rain on my parade. Life
will just be easier if I strive for average. I think thatís what
Those who want to excel at serving Christ
canÖwellÖexcel, accomplishing great things for Godís glory.
For the rest of us, willing to settle for being unremarkably
average Christians, weíll just stay average and be left alone by
But, now that Iíve learned how to be an unremarkably
average Christian, I still come back to Proverbs
22:29. That passage says that those who excel will stand
before kings. I canít help but think that means if I ever want
to stand before The King, I need to excel at the Kingís things.
Maybe we should shoot for excellence after all. Iíll leave that
call up to you.
to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Church of Christ