Mediocrity starts with "me"

“For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”
1 Corinthians 3:11-15

The battle against mediocrity is constant indeed! We all struggle with the temptation to “just get by”. I know I sure do! Maybe it’s not throughout my entire life, but it creeps in here and there with what I might consider to be the “little” things. But as I tell my boys, “the little things will eventually add up, then will be too big to handle, so handle it now, while it’s still ‘little’ ”.

For example, during the summer between my Freshman and Sophomore year, I’d wake up 3 days a week at 5:30 a.m. to row, so I could improve my stroke, get stronger and learn to row both port and starboard. I didn’t want to stay in the Novice Boat forever and wanted to have a chance to row in the elite Lightweight Girls boat the upcoming school year. The Lightweight Girls boat was normally filled with seasoned Junior and Senior girls, not a second year Sophomore. I hated being Bow (which was my seat position in one of the novice boats during my Freshman year). Bow meant you were the person that basically did nothing else, but helped keep the boat on even keel. The entire crew is dependent on every rower to help keep the boat on keel. If one person’s oar is raised lower or higher, then it drastically affects the momentum of the boat as it causes the boat to rock which inhibits it from smoothly propelling through the water. But I wanted to do more than the very least that was expected  of every crew member. I trained Monday through Friday, two hours per day to row a 1500 meter race in 6 minutes or less. That’s a lot of prep work for a little “show” time.

Well, my hard work during the summer paid off, and Coach Steven Weir, after trying me at every seat from Bow 1 all the way up to Stroke (the lead seat), assigned me as the Stroke for the T.C. Williams Girls’ Lightweight 8! Not only did I make it to the boat I wanted to row in, but I was Stroke! Unfortunately, this got to my head and Coach Weir had to teach me a lesson. One day, I skipped practice. No reason, really. I was just tired and after all, I was Stoke, so I wasn’t the one who needed the most work, it was everyone else. I didn’t tell Coach why I skipped, but he knew and said that I could not row Stroke for the Regatta that weekend. I would have to take the seat behind me, the 7 seat. That was the first race we lost and boy did I hear it from all the girls! They badgered me with how I let the team down, and how lame my excuse was. Of course, I attempted to blame it on Coach because he’s the one who took me out of the Stroke seat. But no one bought my reasoning and just said, “Yeah, but if you hadn’t skipped practice, he wouldn’t have taken you out of the Stroke seat!” The person I really felt bad for was the lonely Freshman who also made it to the Girls’ Lightweight 8 and was the one who took my seat for that race.

I learned that day that, ironically, the word mediocrity starts with me - in more ways than one. I can decide to either live fully for Christ, with excellence in all that I do and leave the result to Him, or I can make excuses and convince myself that I could indulge myself in my laziness, just this once. But it never stays at just once does it? That’s the pitfall of mediocrity. After the first step into it, the other steps don’t seem so hard. Unfortunately, because we’re too busy indulging ourselves in our laziness, we don’t even realize the slow roast of mediocrity as it worms it’s way into every aspect of our lives. Before we know it, we’ve become someone we never meant to be and look back only to witness the wake of careless work, weak relationships, and constant chaotic situations, all casualties of me-diocrity.

Therefore, I have a choice to make daily. Will I settle for mediocrity or will I resolve to live as if everything I do and think is for my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 6:5-7). If I do the latter, I know I will do all things in the most excellent way (1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13) with love, God’s faithful, steadfast, self-sacrificing love. Not self-indulging, self-centered mediocre love. And the wake I leave behind will not be one of fumbled mishaps, but one with little regrets, and the greatest joy…making my Savior smile!

Will you join me?