Ordinary is Underrated

At Collide, we believe that God uses ordinary women to do amazing things. He meets us exactly where we’re at – in our mess, our pain, our joy, and our stories. We’ve been amazed at how He redeems our brokenness and empowers women in our community and beyond to walk in the confidence of their identity as beloved daughters.

We’d love to introduce you to one of those women, Sue Likkel, who we’ve asked to contribute her voice, her story and her wisdom to the Collide blog.

Years ago, a new pastor came to our church. Bright-eyed and eager, his enthusiasm was infectious. We spoke briefly one Sunday and the next week he’d forgotten my name. “That’s okay,” I said, “from here on out I’ll just call you Tim.” Tim was not his name, but he laughed and our friendship began. In fact, our entire family developed a close relationship with this kind man and his family.

But then I made a big mistake: I put him on a pedestal. I didn’t even realize I was doing it, but before too long his opinion was more important, his work more relevant, his ideas more influential. And then, his time at our church came to an end. I was deeply saddened and couldn’t imagine life without such a precious person. When we spoke with him about his leaving, he wisely said, “Hey, it’s not like I’m Jesus!” As in, THAT would be a real and true loss. He was basically saying that he was just an ordinary, fallible man. And indeed, he was and is. Like us all, he was just an ordinary guy.

Sure he was a kind man, and a capable man, but he was not worthy of the accolades I had heaped on him in my zeal to spend time in his orbit. Now, many years later, his words still remind me to not put anyone higher than Jesus, our King.

Being called ordinary may be a slight to some people, but I use this word because it is most accurate. I myself am very ordinary and that’s more than okay. I’ve been the speaker at many women’s events over the years and it used to be that my name would be printed but not my photo. That allowed me the kind of access to women that I couldn’t have had if they’d known who I was. Tucking my name tag away, I’d seat myself near the front and have the loveliest conversations with women. Those were some of my favorite times all weekend – before these women knew who I was. The evening would inevitably begin with a welcome from the committee, maybe an ice-breaker, worship, then I’d be introduced. When I got up to go the podium, I could feel the woman’s surprise. I did this not to trick her, but truly wanted to spend time with someone who saw me similar to themselves – to be an ordinary woman at a women’s retreat just for a little while.

I think being ordinary is under-rated. In fact, in A Church Called Tov, by McKnight and Barringer, they assert that we are too often tempted to be fabulous rather than simply ordinary. When we see each other and ourselves as ordinary, we lean more towards humility and service – right where Jesus wants us to be. In contrast, when we see ourselves as more of a celebrity or pedestal topper, we lean more towards superiority and demands.

I can think of many other examples of times when people are treated differently because of their status, perceived status or anything that identifies them as ‘other.’ These folks don’t have the same levels of accountability or scrutiny. Their acolytes give them a pass far too often than is good for the relationship. Some may call it giving someone the deference they have earned or deserve, but I’m here to tell you, it can be a dangerous dynamic.

Rarely can people maintain the kind of pressure that pedestal-sitting entails. Before long, the pedestal wobbles and tips, causing the person to fall, or, for the ones who have placed that person on said pedestal to become disillusioned and disappointed. Would that same disappointment happen had that person not been idealized? Maybe, but it certainly causes a precarious situation when we place someone higher than we ought. They’ll always fall.

Every culture and community throughout time has experienced this. James and John wanted to sit at the left and right hand of Jesus in Heaven, not to mention the superior attitudes of the rich and the Pharisees. Not typically satisfied with an ordinary, faulty human, mankind needs to elevate someone. We want more! We want glitz and magnetism, personality and power, but we aren’t to strive for those attributes.

Our Creator has made us uniquely, yes, and has endowed us with gifts too long to list, but we are to use them for His service – and do so humbly. We are not to exalt ourselves or anyone other than God. The Psalms are loaded with a variety of ways to say ‘Praise be to the Lord’ and ‘I will sing praise to my God.’ It doesn’t tell us to lift up anyone other than Him. Psalm 146 says, ”Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal man, who cannot save.”

I have needed that reminder and perhaps you do too. Sometimes the best way to love someone is to view them through the lens of ordinariness, or to check your own humble meter. Utter those breath prayers of thanks to God for His holiness and live in reverence to Him and instead of putting someone on a pedestal or allowing yourself to put you on one, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord,” For He is the only One worthy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *