What causes mediocrity in our lives? What is it that truly keeps us from reaching our full potential? Is there an antidote to a mediocre life?
Sometime before Christmas, I was home at my parents’ house for the weekend and attending their church. The pastor preached a fantastic sermon on this topic, and he pointed out that fear is ultimately what leads to mediocrity in any part of our lives. Primarily, I think we can boil that down to fear of two things: failure and rejection. Think about a mediocre situation in your life, and it is probably related to a fear of one of those things.
We fear not being good enough – not measuring up (which distills to a fear of failure). From the Christian perspective, this is complete nonsense. This is something I have long struggled with, and I have to pray about it specifically every day to keep that fear at bay. As humans, we are unique in God’s creation. God made us in His very image. Each one of us is inherently valuable because God created us. He knew us before our conception (Psalm 139:13-16), and for those of us that are in Christ, God looks upon us and smiles. He doesn’t see our sin and shame, for it was laid upon Christ’s shoulders at Calvary. The full wrath of God was directed at Jesus, the only man who ever lived a sinless life, in that moment so that we who have lived sinful lives might receive the very righteousness of God. With that truth, of what do we possibly have to be afraid?
I’m 25, and I’m still living my life by semesters, although that will come to an end shortly. This semester has been filled with anticipation of change to come. I’ve searched for a full time job in my field, and while that search hasn’t resulted in anything yet, I at least have work for the summer. I made a conscious decision at the beginning of the semester that I was going to trust in God rather than worry about the outcome of my search. After I graduated from college in 2016, I took a year off before going to grad school, working part time, volunteering, applying for jobs, and ultimately applying for grad school. That was a year filled with fear and frustration. I didn’t know what God wanted me to do with my life, and not finding full time work after working so hard to get a college degree (Hillsdale makes you earn it) led to some existential questions.
I didn’t want any of that frustration this time around. I’ve slipped up a few times and stressed out about things, but when I return to God in faith, he takes the fear and tosses into the deepest part of nearby Lake Michigan.
A strange thing happened when I allowed God to take away that particular fear from me – fear in other areas of my life seemed to dissipate as well, as long as I continually returned to Him in prayer. I found myself meeting new people, opening up a bit more (two things I’ve long been deathly afraid of… and still sort of am), and praying more than I ever have in my life. The mediocrity created by my own fear started to disappear. Sure it has come with growing pains, but I’ve found myself bolder in my faith and more confident in myself with the knowledge that I am a treasured child of the most high God. That powerful truth is transforming my life.
The antidote to mediocrity is letting go of fear and taking action, whatever that may mean for a particular individual. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This is powerful truth. God lavishes His love upon us. He wants us to live in the fullness of His grace. That doesn’t mean life will be easy. To the contrary – being a Christian is exceedingly difficult, yet the rewards are beyond anything this world can imagine. If we ask Him, God will give us His peace and remove the fear that cripples us. With the fear gone, we can start to take steps to emerge from our mediocrity. We can serve Him to our full potential.
A popular worship song released a few years ago has this powerful refrain:
“I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.”
With that knowledge and strength from the Almighty, we can excel in all that we do. We don’t need to be mediocre. We don’t need to be doomed to sitting on the couch dreading another day of work because we’re too afraid to make a change. Give the fear to God, and watch Him change your life.
Faith in Jesus is the only thing powerful enough to bring peace to this broken world. If you don’t know Him, talk to Him now. He’s never too busy to hear from one of us – He created us after all! Tell Him you’re done doing things your way – you’re done with your sin, fear, and shame. Repent of that past and embrace His love and forgiveness made possible through His redemptive work on the cross. Acknowledge Him as King, and follow Him. He’ll give you His Holy Spirit, which will transform your life in ways you never thought possible. It’ll be the best decision you ever make.