You Have Permission to Lead an Ordinary Life
From Randy Alcorn: Years ago my wife Nanci and I wrote a book together called Help for Women Under Stress. We talked about the extraordinary pressures and stresses that women often face, including the pressure to pursue excellence in every area of life. We wrote then (and still believe it’s true), “Christ has called us not to excellence in all things but to faithfulness in all things.”
That’s why the message of this article by Melissa Kruger about the power of a quiet, ordinary, faithful, and Christ-honoring life resonated with me. Although Melissa’s original audience was women, her wisdom is applicable for every reader. Hope this encourages you as it did me.
Sisters, You Have Permission to Lead an Ordinary Life
By Melissa Kruger
You’re special. Don’t let anyone limit your potential. You’re made for more. Your life is up to you. Exercise more. Eat better. Make time for yourself. Cheer others on. Give more. Do more. Try harder. Run faster.
And, while you’re at it, change the world. Solve injustice. Start a nonprofit. Lead a Bible study. Read all the new books (maybe write one, too). Read the classics. Make sure to vote. Wash your face. Live untamed.
No wonder you haven’t thought about what’s for dinner. (But, whatever you do, make sure it’s an all-organic, free-range, and locally sourced nutritious meal.)
Do you feel the pressure too? Some days it’s exhausting to be a woman. Internally, we feel the reality of not measuring up to our own hopes of being the friend, employee, daughter, wife, or mother we think we should be. Externally, we have so many influencers telling us to make an amazing, groundbreaking difference in the world. Words meant to inspire often exhaust.
Can I borrow a moment of your time to give you (and me) permission to lead a quiet, ordinary life? When I’m overwhelmed by all the messages coming at me each day, I remind myself of 1 Thessalonians 4:11: “Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands.” The quiet, godly life described here is within our reach. And I’ve seen it lived out firsthand.
One Ordinary Life
I recently treasured final moments with my friend Polly. You probably don’t know her. She’s not an Instagram influencer or New York Times–bestselling author. Polly is a wife and mom of two college-aged children.
She’s worked at a seminary for years, managing accreditation for the entire institution. She hasn’t moved overseas as a missionary, opened an orphanage, or taught the Bible to thousands. Yet her faithful work has supported people who have served in all those ways and more.
I want to live a life like Polly’s. Three passages from Scripture keep me grounded in pursuing this different type of ambition.
1. Love the Lord
Our primary calling is this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment” (Matt. 22:37–38).
The command to love him is linked repeatedly in Scripture with wholeheartedly embracing and delighting in his law (Deut. 11:1; Josh. 22:5; Ps. 19:7–10; John 15:9–10). It is not wrong to have ambition. It just needs to be centered on the right aim.
This calling to love the Lord is not a one-time, walk-the-aisle-and-accept-Jesus type of relationship. It’s a daily walking with him, talking to him, knowing him, and serving him. Our love for Jesus needs careful tending because it’s apt to grow indifferent or lukewarm (Rev. 3:16). As Joshua reminded the people of Israel: “Be very careful, therefore, to love the LORD your God” (Josh. 23:11).
With all there is to do, this is the one thing that must be done. Don’t neglect the Lord. This ordinary faithfulness, after all, is only possible because of his extraordinary work. So be in his Word. Spend time in prayer. Worship him at church. Live in light of his commands.
2. Fulfill Your Calling
At the end of Colossians, Paul writes, “And say to Archippus, ‘See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord’” (Col. 4:17). The simplicity of Paul’s reminder silences the voices telling me I have to dream bigger, live boldly, work harder, and do more.
I’m not able to solve all of the world’s problems. But I can fulfill the ministry the Lord has given me. I’m a small part in his big story—and what an amazing privilege to be given a role!
What’s before you today? If you have a husband or children, love them well (Titus 2:4). As you work at your job—whether loads of laundry, piles of emails, or hours of meetings—work heartily, as for the Lord (Col. 3:23).
Don’t concern yourself with what he’s called someone else to do. Encourage and support others, but don’t believe that just because they’re doing something means you must, too. Whatever God has called you to, faithfully fulfill the ministry you’ve received from him. Ordinary lives can produce extraordinary fruit.
3. Hope in Eternity
Hope is a precious thing. We too easily put our hope in earthly comforts, success, and people. When they fail us (and they ultimately will), we may question if God has failed us. But Peter reminds us: “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13).
A hope anchored in heaven secures our faithfulness on earth. This life is simply a journey; it doesn’t really matter if it’s ordinary. Don’t buy the lie that your life only matters if your name is known, you have lots of followers, or you do amazing things.
Your life matters because you’re made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). Christian woman, you can rejoice—not because of all you’ve accomplished, but because your name is written in heaven (Luke 10:20). You are beloved by the King.
Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant
A few weeks ago we got the call. Polly’s cancer treatments had stopped working. Friend after friend came and sat with her on her back porch. Some flew in from Texas, others drove from Mississippi. One evening we stood in her yard and sang hymns while she listened from the porch.
On Sunday morning, we gathered at her home to worship. Her husband, Bob, was at her side every minute. Her children listened and laughed at stories they told together. They read the Bible. They prayed. Soon after, she went to be with Jesus.
Yes, you could say her life was ordinary. But as I watched the people of her life gather, all I could think is: How beautiful and extraordinary is my friend. She loved the Lord. She fulfilled her calling. She hoped for eternity.
What an amazing life.
This article originally appeared on The Gospel Coalition and is used with the author’s permission.