A Struggle with Mediocrity

I’ll be the first to admit I struggle with being mediocre. Lukewarm. It’s so easy for me to be lazy in my walk, having a disengaged mind. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that in the course of a mundane day, it’s easy to put your head down and focus on the details of what you’re doing and forget the bigger picture. At the very best, I fail to take advantage of the opportunities to glorify God to the fullest. At the worst, I set myself up for all sorts of temptations.

So I found this quote from Urban Meyer inspiring the other day. He wasn’t speaking of spiritual things, but he was speaking of truth. He said this to the Ohio State football team after the first day of practice:

It’s so easy to be average. you know it as well as I know it. You just practiced. It’s the first day, cheering and all that kind of stuff and I still saw average. It takes a little something to be special, doesn’t it? It takes a little something special to be a great player. We don’t have enough great players. To hell with that! We don’t want to coach average. I don’t want to be around you, why be around average? Did you push yourself to be great today? Did you do it? If you didn’t do it, you lost a day. We don’t got many days to lose. We’re going to push your ass like it’s never been pushed. Because what you’ve got in you, we’re gonna find out, ok? I’m gonna find out. And if there’s a touch of greatness in there, how cool would that be?

What does sports have to do with Spiritual things? Well, Paul used sports analogies in several places talking about one who runs to win the race. The writer of Hebrews also talks about throwing off every weight of sin and running the race with perseverance. This is very apt. Meyer’s statement about average reminded me of Jesus’ words to the Laodicean church.

Revelation 3:15-16 ESV “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! (16) So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

That sounds a lot harsher than “I don’t want to be around average.” So I find inspiration in Meyer’s question. “Did you push yourself to be great today,” and his admonition, “If you didn’t, you lost a day. We don’t got many days to lose!” This is the same sense of urgency I need in my Christian walk.

How we define greatness is crucial. Obviously Meyer was talking about being great as a football player, and that’s perfectly fine in that context, but what is greatness in the Christian context? Holiness

Hebrews 12:14 ESV Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

So the challenge for my life becomes:

“It’s so easy to be lukewarm. It takes a little something special to be holy. Did you push yourself to be holy today? If you didn’t, you lost a day. We don’t got many days to lose!”

Obviously, holiness does not come about through our own efforts alone. We need to be rooted in Christ and abide in him. If we do, we will bear much fruit. If we don’t we can’t do anything. So that’s where the battle begins. The first thing you can do to be holy is to abide in Christ. But then beyond that, this gives an inspiration when the temptation to slack off in the mind comes to push yourself to stay focused.

Meyer talks about “Plus 2” which is wanting his players to go above and beyond what they’re asked. On the football field, or anytime you’re physically working out, there’s that point where you start to feel tired and you want to let up. It takes the determination and desire to be great to push through that to the next level. It’s the same way in our Spiritual walk. We don’t run just to be on the track. We run to win. So we can’t be content with a little holiness mixed with a little sin. It should have no place, because there’s no room. Trying to mix the two is like Usain Bolt practicing four days a week and eating Big Macs and Pizza while playing video games the other three. He couldn’t even compete, let alone be an Olympic Gold Medalist, if he did that! It takes a fervent desire to be holy to press through when temptation to slack off comes. This is very convicting to me. I need this kind of focus.

I leave you with a couple more inspiring verses:

Philippians 2:12-13 ESV (12) Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, (13) for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Philippians 3:13-15 ESV (13) …one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, (14) I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (15) Let those of us who are mature think this way…

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV (24) Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. (25) Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. (26) So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. (27) But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Hebrews 12:1-4 ESV Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (2) looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (3) Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. (4) In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Hebrews 12:12-14 ESV Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, (13) and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. (14) Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

The battle is in the mind. Did you push yourself to be holy today? Did I push myself to be holy today.