I don’t know where this quote originated, but I heard it first from my mom. It truly does capture the essence of average. It’s a reminder that average is not inspiring. While average does not indicate you’re a bad person, it may indicate that you aren’t living up to your potential. While we all have struggles and limitations, we all also have talents and gifts. We can be very average (even below-average) in some areas of life, but that shouldn’t prevent us from excelling in other areas. We should strive to be more than average in areas where we have the potential to excel.
Perhaps the greatest temptation to be average is simply the temptation to “fit in”. Sometimes this comes from a place of not wanting to stick-out from the crowd, but rather to be part of the crowd. However, there’s a bigger issue here: our culture seems to endorse Disney theology in that you can be whatever you want, while simultaneously shaming individuals for success. It is truly a bizarre and confusing quandary our culture has imposed on individuals. You should strive to do well; but if you do too well, you should feel guilty about it…puzzling.
Living up to our potential sounds like hard work. Well it is, but we really fail in our approach. It is hard work because we think it’s going to be hard work. We like quick results; we want instant gratification. Living up to our potential is really a matter of stewardship. We all have skills, talents and gifts – but what are we doing with them? If we’re coasting to average, we aren’t being good stewards of those gifts. It does take work to develop and grow our skills and gifts. It does take work to find areas to apply those skills and gifts. And applying those skills and gifts takes work – and sometimes it’s messy. As John Maxwell says, “nobody drifts upstream”. Drifting is average at best.