It’s really easy to read the biographies or books of accomplished Christian pastors, teachers and leaders and think that following Christ is all about doing something big and successful that’s measurable by large numbers, big crowds, fame and a bulky bottom line. But where does that leave the rest of us who are more or less average Joes?
Troy Meeder’s book Average Joe: God’s Extraordinary Calling to Ordinary Men is for men who don’t have profiles written about them in Christian magazines, don’t get up every Sunday morning to preach in front of thousands and aren’t currently or ever the Top 40 under 40 in their community. It’s for guys who mow lawns – like the guy Troy encountered at college who made a tremendous impact on his walk with Christ, work 9 to 5 jobs without much fanfare and raise families on average salaries. In other words, it’s a book for almost all men (somewhere there’s a joke referencing Occupy Wall Street in there).
Through personal stories, profiles of average Joes and insights on scripture, Meeder hammers home the point that living an average life is okay and that being an average Joe doesn’t mean God doesn’t want to use you or that he doesn’t have a unique and as the book title suggests “extraordinary” call for your life.
In a culture that’s obsessed with numbers, salaries and performance – how often do you hear the phrase go big or go home and believe it? – Meeder’s message is a welcome breath of fresh air. In my teenage years I remember praying many times at the altar at Delanco Camp asking God to use me in a mighty way and picturing that this meant something that would land me in magazine and newspaper profiles (though my byline has appeared in both as a writer) and make me some kind of Christian celebrity.
Sometimes when I look at my life now and compare it to what I thought it would be when I was a teenager I feel like I’ve fallen short of what God had planned for me, but as Meeder reminds me it’s not what I do that determines whether my life is extraordinary by God’s standards – it’s what I allow God to do through me.
“there is no need to strive to be anything more than a servant of our Creator. We expend ourselves, our precious life, and our very existence in pursuit of significance, prestige, wealth, and fame. I believe that these pursuits are meaningless, never ending, and often offer only hollowness, hunger, and pain. We seek to be something our Creator never intended us to be: self-important, shortsighted, and earthly minded.
I believe that every man – yes, even an average Joe – can and will be used greatly by God if he allows himself to be broken, refined, and shaped more into His image.”
If you’re an average Joe like me, definitely check out this book either for personal study or for a men’s small group. If you aren’t in a men’s small group, this might be just the right book to use as an excuse to start one.
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