July 12, 2012
Thursday, 7:00 p.m.
Letter #233: The Temptation of Mediocrity
FREEDOM! Phillip was released from prison this past Saturday, having served four years—a bit less than half of his sentence—for good behavior. (That is, the reduction of time was for good behavior. The sentence itself was for bad behavior.)
I am so happy for him! He and I counted down the months, then weeks, then days leading up to this day. We planned, prayed, worked, and played, thinking about what is now a reality. Sometimes it had seemed so far away—just a distant dream. At other times, it seemed to be racing toward us, the days were flying by so fast.
All the while, we both knew the day would eventually come when he would be released. We could only hope to be as prepared as possible, leaving the results in God’s hands.
I know Phillip won’t be having alcohol anymore, and he’s done experimenting with drugs. Since coming to Christ a year ago, Phillip’s whole outlook on life has changed. His purpose for living has become less about self and selfish desires and more about God’s plan for his life.
We went through Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven Life book, discussing the basic Biblical truths found in it. We prayed. We made lists, charts, and graphs. We set goals and worked hard to achieve those goals. It wasn’t always easy, but we pressed on, spending countless hours upon hours reading business training materials together, role-playing various business activities, and praying some more.
What I’m most concerned about for Phillip to have to overcome is the acceptance of mediocrity. Don’t get me wrong: Phillip has fantastic determination and follow-through. He is driven, highly motivated, and doesn’t give up. He’s not afraid to do menial tasks or activities that he isn’t familiar with. I’m certain he’ll do his best at everything he tries.
No, what I cautioned Phillip about is to not become complacent in any facet of his life. After being in prison with so many decisions made for you, so many freedoms taken from you, and so many dreams put on hold for you, it can be easy for some ex-offenders to settle for a very basic life of eat, work, sleep, repeat. It is what we have unwittingly been conditioned to accept over the years of incarceration.
Now, I’m not against the simple life: content with living off of less, and enjoying a sunset rather than needing a night on the town. That is a sign of maturity, not mediocrity!
Rather, I told him to be careful of not pressing toward the mark of the high calling, of not running the race with endurance. It can be a subtle decision made, really.
Relieved to be free, to find a job, to find love, to find Doritos Tacos … it can be tempting to put up a sign that says “I’ve arrived” and call it Good Enough. But life should be about so much more than these proverbial Simple Pleasures! It should be lived with constant expectation to see God’s hand at work in the world and join Him in that work. It should be lived out loud—a testimony known and read of all men.
This called life, this set apart, holy unto the Lord life is what I encouraged Phillip to strive for, seek after, rest in. I’m praying he will, but more than that, I trust he will. For I know Phillip’s God will be faithful to complete the good work He began in Phillip’s heart.
God has big plans for him, and I’ll be excited to see it unfold in his life in the weeks, months, and years ahead. God isn’t finished with him yet—that much is for sure!
So, thank you for your investment of prayer on Phillip’s behalf and on behalf of all those of us who are constantly learning to live our lives to God’s fullest potential for us. God is at work—through you.