As an athlete, I know what it feels like to be in shape. But I also know all too well what it feels like to be out of shape. And usually that middle ground happens faster than I like it to. I don’t just sit around thinking of ways to get out of shape. I become passive with my workouts, you know, still trying here and there sometimes. But unless I consistently push myself, unless I actively choose to work out, I soon find myself far from where I want to be.How true this can be for other aspects of life. I want to be the best version of myself. I think most people do. But I sometimes found myself further from where I wanted to be, especially with faith. Now I wasn’t completely dropping the ball. It was small things here and there. But that builds up over time. When I look back, my desire was often clouded by the chaos of the day to day grind. Mix that with a bit of passivity and you have a recipe for mediocrity.

The changes may seem small at times but if you allow him to mold you, those small changes turn into something significant.

Settling for mediocrity can so often become the barrier between the desire for greatness and greatness itself. Mediocrity. It seems so bland, so boring, almost undeserving to be talked about. Yet for me and my faith life, this one thing periodically crept in, seemingly unnoticed, and drew me into complacency. My story isn’t a crazy one. I didn’t have a radical, knocked-off-my-horse, transformation. For me and my year on NET, it was the small changes that made a big difference. My faith has been important to me for almost as long as I can remember. It grew as I grew over the years. I chose it as my own. I pursued it. Being the kid who received formation and had a relationship with Christ, I knew in the back of my head there was always more to learn, but it was a harder truth to grasp when I’d been so immersed in my faith. It can so easily become something you take for granted. But there is always room to grow. And I lived that reality when I served with NET.
It’s not a one and done type deal.

I came to serve, and found that in giving I must first learn to receive.

I think that’s what I’m trying to get at here. Once you get past the big hurdle (transformation), the smaller ones can seem less important. And this is where mediocrity and complacency come into play. I think there is this subconscious mindset that I’ve already done the heavy lifting. I’ve already reached a certain point, so there can be less motivation for further growth because my current positon seems pretty good. It’s in this stage where my imperfections, weaknesses, and areas I need growth may not be as recognizable, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be striving for growth. NET’s lifestyle is very conducive to growth and my year challenged and pushed me every day. I came to serve, and found that in giving I must first learn to receive.

I found freedom in embracing my weaknesses.
I learned to have a grateful attitude in all things.
I gained greater perspective into loving people where they are.
I learned how to fight complacency.
I learned to be bold.
I gained a greater awareness of those around me.
I found my strength in the Lord instead of myself.

If I call myself a Christian, then it should seep into every area of my life, not just certain ones. And let me tell you, when you’re a missionary, it seeps into every area of your life whether you’re ready for it or not. I have learned how to fight that mediocrity and how to more actively pursue Christ in every aspect of my life. The way I love my family, the way I talk to a cashier, the way I pursue friendships; it’s all been elevated. It’s kind of like an iPhone software update. Same phone, the systems just been upgraded. But iPhones don’t upgrade on their own. You have to choose to upgrade it.

See, it’s the same me, I’ve just grown. And it was, and still is, a daily choice.

Ultimately, my year molded me more into the person the Lord created me to be. Kind of like a piece of pottery being sculpted more into what it’s intended. The changes may seem small at times but if you allow him to mold you, those small changes turn into something significant. Holiness is not a competition. It’s a personal journey. The question is where is the Lord leading you?

Written by Michele Volk, Mission Staff