An Anatomy of the Ordinary, Slightly Extraordinary, and the Extraordinary

Like you, I’ve done a lot of the ordinary when it comes to people, ministry, and in my attempt to share the Gospel. . . . .

  • Ordinary Exercise of Manners: Held the door, Smiled, Please & Thank You
  • Ordinary Acts of Kindness: Let someone go in ahead of me, Made someone aware that they had dropped a dollar or more
  • Ordinary Helpful Actions: Carried boxes on or off a moving van, handed tools to those working on a project

Some may have been slightly more than ordinary . . . .

  • I held the door for someone to go in ahead of me, knowing that there was a limited supply of the item that was on sale.
  • Made someone aware that they had dropped a $20, or even returned a bank envelop with $700 in it, with the person’s name on it
  • Paid for someone’s “coffee & donuts” in line behind me.
  • In the “pulpit,” when would have been easy to “call out sick.”
  • Donated blood — iffy as to which list this should make, but blood is pretty precious!

There have been a number of times where I believe what I did was extraordinary — out of the ordinary and out of the slightly ordinary. I will leave them unstated lest it is misunderstood and/or it takes away from the post. [1]

I have even dreamed about doing the extraordinary, the really extraordinary, if I had the time, opportunity, and primarily the money.

You hear about such extraordinary examples now and again — A $1,000 tip, A Million Dollar donation to a medical center, A house built, Free medical services to third-world citizens, No charge care for children with cancer, et al. Although, some of these examples may only be slightly extraordinary due to the resources that some possess — Mark 12:42.

Although, I am certain that the extraordinary giving of time, talent, skills, $$$ happen far more, by ordinary people, than we realize!

Ministry leaders, lay members, and pastors also have the opportunity to do the ordinary, the slightly extraordinary, and the “extraordinary.” I suggest that it is “the extraordinary” that has the greatest impact on our neighbors, friends, “the household of faith” — Galatians 6:10, and the world around us.

“As we have therefore opportunity, 
let us do good unto all men
especially unto them who are of 
the household of faith.”

The Ordinary:  Whether one is in the pew or in the pulpit, there is the ordinary, the “of course I do/did this-or-that” because that is what people, good people, are given to acts of kindness, manners, and helpfulness. 

  • Send a card to someone who has lost a loved one
  • Attend a funeral
  • Give a shower gift
  • Send a Thank You note
  • Give someone a lift
  • Drive someone to the doctor
  • Visit someone in the hospital
  • Text – DM – VM — Merry Christmas / Happy New Year / Happy Birthday
  • et al.

That’s what we do . . . . and even what those who know not Christ do!

 

The Slightly Extraordinary:  Whether one is in the pew or in the pulpit, there is the “slightly extraordinary,” the “of course I do/did this-or-that” because that is who I am, who Go’s people are. We have received great kindness, love, mercy, and love. Our hearts have been changed, and we now feel for others. Understanding, caring, and compassion now motivate us far more than at any time before in our lives.

  • Paid for a child, who could not afford it, to go to camp
  • Give large swaths of our time, talents, and treasure to outreach
  • Give over and above a tithe
  • Invite someone to sit with you at church, or sit with someone who is “alone” in church
  • Start a conversation with that individual, who many might avoid because they are quiet or socially awkward.
  • Attend a funeral of someone you “know,” but you really don’t personally know, but you know others who know them.
  • Go out of our way to correct a $ error that someone has made commercially or personally
  • Chose not to sit with “the important” or “the comfortable table of friends,” but with the person sitting alone at a table during times of fellowship
  • Offer to come over and help with this-or-that home project on your day off
  • Visit someone at the hospital you “know,” but you don’t personally know
  • Serving, preaching, or teaching when physically afflicted
  • Give a wedding gift (shower gift) to a couple being married even if you barely know them or their family
  • et al.

However, let me make this important point!  The “slightly extraordinary” is actually the “ordinary” when one is in ministry. Of course, you do many if not most of the above, because you are the shepherd, not the sheep. Shepherd act like shepherds, and that is what shepherds do! 

If shepherds act like sheep, then consider this . . . .

Wolves put on sheep clothing to look like the sheep, but in reality, they are not!
Some sheep put on shepherd’s garb to look like a shepherd, but in reality, they are not!

When the sheep do the “slightly extraordinary,” there is a meaningful impact on others. When the shepherds do the “slightly extraordinary,” it is rightfully appreciated, but not lauded as something unusual! Of course, he attended the funeral; in fact, even if he wasn’t officiating, he would have been there! 

When the “ordinary” and “slightly extraordinary” is absent, 
it speaks just about as loud as it can get!

 

The Extraordinary:  Whether one is in the pew or in the pulpit, there is the “extraordinary,” the “Wow — he/she did this-or-that!” There are those who are “extraordinary” in church ministries. There were MANY of the “extraordinary” at Faith Baptist Church in Hamilton, NJ. They went out of their way to help, love, support, visit, drive, give, care, and minister to others inside and outside the church.

Just recently, because of a flight delay, my son and his family would arrive late for a family funeral in Trenton, New Jersey. The family could not pick him up because of the time of the funeral and their arrival at the airport, which was at least an hour away. Karan saw the situation developing on social media, picked them up at the airport, drove them well over an hour to north Jersey for the funeral, and then she drove back home — alone! Oh, did I say that she had snacks, sub sandwiches, and drinks for the whole family — all six of them.

It is just good to do good!
BUT, it shouts when we do the extraordinary!

 

It’s A Wrap: Much more could be said, but let me draw a few conclusions.

 If you are in the pew, the “slightly extraordinary” will speak to others.

 Most do not disparage another for not doing the “extraordinary.” The “extraordinary” is understood as optional and often carries with it a relational element. Those in pews and even in the pulpits typically get a pass if they do not do the “extraordinary.”

 If you want to have a meaningful impact on people, it is really the “extraordinary” that speaks the loudest.

 When pastors do the extraordinary. . . . 

. . . . make a home or hospital visit to a member or friend of the church week after week [2], kindly return the funeral or wedding honorarium, “show up” time and time again at this-or-that church activity-event, drive to a funeral several hours away, et al. . . .

. . . . it has a significant impact on the minds and hearts of others! That is what contributes to an effective ministry!

 When pastors fail at the “ordinary,” and the “slightly extraordinary,” they will lose their influence and their impact with people. It speaks about how much you really care don’t care about people! Don’t be surprised that the result of”minimal ministry” causes people to find a ministry that really has people in the pew and pulpit that do the extraordinary.

 

Disagree? 

I say, “Go ahead and ride that horse that you think is thoroughbred. I say, It’s a nag,” and it won’t get you across the finish line!

 



1. I am not of the belief that sharing some of the extraordinary examples is inherently prideful. In fact, I think some of those extraordinary examples ought to be more known than they are, when shared in an appropriate way

— Thank You, Karan Cleary-Peterla, You are an example of the “extraordinary”   that we were blessed to have as part of our ministry at FBC! [3]

“Appropriate” includes the spirit in which it is shared, the purpose that it is shared, and the time that it is shared (Sharing an act, long after the act, should indicate that there is a better motive and purpose. Too often we share such acts of selfishness at one’s funeral, though perhaps too late.). A clear Bible example is found in Acts 4.

Ministries and churches often share what they have done and/or are doing, with their members and friends — including providing pictures. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with that, and obviously it can be done in a right and wrong way, with a right and wrong spirit!

2. I was reminded about my mother-in-law’s words about how their pastor visited “dad” every week for over a year as he was dying.

3. And many others of which I could write yet another account of the “Extraordinary of FBC!” 

 


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