Never Underestimate the Power of Mediocrity

Recently my wife, Gayle, and I were on vacation in Virginia. We had no set schedule so we enjoyed leisurely mornings, the World Series, a couple of movies, a dinner theater, walking tours through Jamestown and Yorktown, and carriage rides through historic Williamsburg.

One evening while strolling through Williamsburg, I concluded that the best things in life come from the things we might not consider extraordinary. Walking through a peaceful historic site holding the hand of my favorite person, cleaning out the garage with my kids, tidying the yard on a Saturday morning, riding bikes with friends, loading the dish washer while the kids play, and going to church on Sunday mornings all took on special meaning. And even though the culture we live in increasingly demands that everything be sensational, big, meaningful, dramatic, and life-altering, I’ve started to believe that our lives are strengthened or ruined on average, mediocre days and that the power of our mediocre days shouldn’t be underestimated.

Certainly we also need special days like Christmas and Thanksgiving, but Christmas and Thanksgiving are either delightful or painful depending on what we did on our average, mediocre days. If an adulterous affair started on an average Tuesday, Christmas is no longer the celebration it used to be. If a drug addiction took hold on an average Friday night, the silence from the empty chair at the Thanksgiving table is felt by everyone in the family. If a baby was conceived during an illicit sexual encounter on an average Wednesday afternoon, several families will never be the same.

On the other hand, if we endeavor to read and learn on average days, to do our work well, to be contented with family life, to be satisfied with an evening at home or a nice game of dominos with our family or friends, and to enjoy a predictable church service, we might experience more fulfillment on our special days. Could it be that being satisfied with the basics of life sets the stage for greater personal security, greater financial success, more meaningful careers, and a secure family with a trusted set of friends?

We Christians have a challenge. Now that market forces are demanding that our churches be more sensational and extraordinary, expectations are changing and we’re increasingly thinking our believers’ meetings should be like the news, football, and the movies– dramatic! exciting! moving! life-changing! As a result, those who are in leadership are increasingly expected to entertain and be sensational, rather than be fathers, able to nurture healthy spiritual families.

No doubt, we still need to climb the mountains, run the marathons, and achieve competence and excellence. But to compliment achievement, we also need to value a foundation of strength and stability that isn’t driven by the latest sensation. Again, we shouldn’t underestimate the power of mediocrity.

I pastor St. James Church in Colorado Springs, and I actually embrace mediocrity. I don’t need more drama from people who believe Facebook friends are truly friends, the current social media gossip, the latest revelation of a television preacher who second-guesses scholarly Bible translators, a seminar to inspire me or a conference led by so called “super-apostles” to teach me family life . . . especially when they have had multiple wives and their children are taking another trip through rehab. I don’t blame them, nor do I condemn them. I’m glad they are serving the body the best they can. But actually I prefer cleaning out the garage with my kids, and maybe we Christians need church leaders who enjoy doing the same.

I like everything the church is doing to reach the un-churched, to be authentic and relevant, and to serve those who want to grow in Christ. I also occasionally enjoy emotionally charged services. I enjoy them, but I don’t need them. I am contented.

Maybe we would all be wise to discover the value of our families in our local churches again. Learning those relational dynamics might be more valuable for strengthening our lives and demonstrating the gospel than the latest revelation, popular speaker, Christian television program or blog.

This morning Gayle and I dropped by our son, Marcus, and his wife, Sarah’s, home for a late breakfast. Afterwards, I settled in on the sofa to write this blog with Gayle reading next to me. Marcus sat down to his computer, still in his pajamas, to finish working on a legal memo; Sarah and her Mom, Meg, are on the back porch swing talking about the grandkids. My granddaughters, Hadessah and Norah are painting with Sarah’s sister, Emily, who is home on leave from the Air Force, and my grandson, Emerson, is taking a nap. It’s the kind of Saturday that creates great lives.

The plaque on the wall over their breakfast table reads, “Enjoy the little things in life . . . for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.”

I treasure mediocre days.


13 thoughts on “Never Underestimate the Power of Mediocrity

  1. Amber Grady says:

    Yes! And although we are “Facebook friends”, I’m glad we are really “family” in real life. Sean and my kids and I dearly love you and Gayle.

  2. Ken Parrish says:

    Thanks for the reminder, Ted

  3. Dalton Deville says:

    I am a long time BETHANY member here in B R
    and a lover of JESUS CHRIST. I WON T brag about anything but our LORD but will say I am so glad to see U are doing well. Answered prayer
    Keep me in your prayers

  4. Mark Dezuba says:

    Hello Ted, The second to the last paragraph is what it is akl about. “This morning Gayle and I dropped by our son…” Doesn’t get better than that! Blessings – Mark DeZuba

  5. Jim Armstrong says:

    I fully agree with what you have written here. Friday night football games are usually won or lost by what you do on Monday through Thursday, and sometimes by what you did on Saturday or Sunday.

    Thanks for the word.


  6. ninakorsen says:

    Thank you for this. I was just thinking – yesterday and today – about some of these things – not in the same words – but wondering about these types of things. Your blog speaks to what I was thinking. I appreciate what you’ve been able to articulate for me. Nina

  7. Barb says:

    A wonderful reminder of what’s truly important. Thanks!

  8. marijo1245 says:

    Precious reminder…beauty in the ordinary!

  9. Paula Leiter says:

    Amen Pastor, and may I say that it blesses me so deeply to know that you and your family are doing so well. My husband and I were praying for you during your stormy season. We, at one time, we’re trying to reach you to offer our Florida home to you when things were the most desperate. In our research we learned that someone else had already blessed you in that way. Thank you for this outreach, I greatly enjoy your perspectives and wisdom. May God continue to bless you and yours with His favor and protection. Mrs.Paula Leiter

  10. Carmen Sanabria says:

    So glad you and your family are doing well and enjoying the little things in life. I prayed for you and cried with you. You helped me when my husband and I went to Colorado for a conference at New Life Church and had no place to stay. We met on the plane. Thank you

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