Why being ordinary is more than okay

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah (1 Samuel 16:13, ESV).

Our culture disrespects the ordinary. If it’s not special, superior, showy, or shocking, then it doesn’t matter.

Is that what God really wants for our lives? Does God want us to exert ourselves for a flash of fame? Is there anything wrong with being an ordinary person living a faithful life?

King David was painfully ordinary. How many miracles did he do? Zero. The showdown against Goliath happened when he was delivering his brothers’ lunch. If there was anything noteworthy in his life, it wasn’t David; it was God.

For much of David’s life, he did the grind. Even after he was anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the next king, he wasn’t immediate royalty. No, he waited for ten more years—a decade of suffering and preparation to be the man after God’s own heart. Ten years of obscurity and monotony, camping solo on the hillside, watching the sheep. Yet during that season of preparation, David got really good with a slingshot, and he wrote songs for God. Little did he know he’d face a giant and write much of the book of Psalms. He just plodded faithfully along where God had placed him.

So much of the pain and heartache of life come from trying to prove we’re something more. We’re not. We’re just ordinary. There’s such a release and relaxation in this. We don’t have to feel bad because we don’t look special or have a unique talent, an exciting job, or a dramatic story. God is very happy for us to be ordinary, to faithfully live our regular, obscure lives.

Read this: When everyone seems to be ‘doing life’ better than you

Here’s what ordinary life looks like: the monotonous grind of diapers, cooking, cleaning, laundry, bills, and a job you may or may not like. Whether or not your sacrifices are acknowledged or appreciated by others, God sees your faithfulness. God knows, and He’s keeping track. You need to persevere and be faithful. Wherever God has placed you, live that ordinary life faithfully for God.

Because if we go back to David’s story, we see what’s extraordinary about him: God in him. The moment that Samuel anointed David with oil, “the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward.” If there’s anything exceptional about David’s life, it’s God at work in him.

We see this consistently through the Bible. Why did Pharaoh appoint Joseph, a foreign criminal, as his number two official over all of Egypt? “And Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God’” (Genesis 41:38)?

How did lowly Gideon lead a mighty military rout, though massively outnumbered? “But the Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon” (Judges 6:34).

Any success in Samson’s entire life story is defined by this phrase: “And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him” (Judges 14:19).

What transformed the disciples from cowardly into courageous? Jesus told them to go to the upper room and wait for the Holy Spirit—do not pass GO, do not collect $200, don’t do anything till you get the Spirit. They didn’t get to do a neighborhood survey or even work on their brochures. They got in a room and waited for “power from on high” (Luke 24:49).

How liberating for us to realize that we’re ordinary and that the extraordinary thing is always, always, always God.

Now read this: How to deal with disappointment in life


James MacDonald (D. Min. Phoenix Seminary) is the founding senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, leads the church-planting ministry of Harvest Bible Fellowship, teaches the practical application of God’s Word on the Walk in the Word radio and television programs, and is a gifted author and speaker. You can find out more about James and his ministries at WalkintheWord.org.


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