The Small, Local Things

After my large speaking event, a woman approached me and said, “You know my favorite thing about you? You’re so ordinary. I mean, you go home and make soup for your neighbors and teach your classes and just live in your town.”

I said, “Me too. I think that’s also my favorite thing.”

I recently talked to dear friends who actively resist the temptation for larger, more impressive ministry spheres. Instead, they stay local and love their neighbors and serve their little church. It’s a beautiful and abundant life. It’s a life of small, local things. It’s a life that doesn’t seek fame or wealth or greater influence for the sake of being important.

I believe it’s good and right to stay as ordinary and local as one can. It’s an extraordinary choice in a world that privileges influence and fame.

And it might confuse people.

As I finished my oatmeal one morning in the hotel of the conference where I spoke, a woman snuck up to me with a look of horror on her face. She said, “I am so sorry. Please forgive me for just talking to you yesterday like you were a regular person. I didn’t realize you were the featured speaker. I’m so embarrassed. I just didn’t know who you were.” She actually composed an email apology.

I had no idea what to say. I wanted to say again, like I have so many times before, “I’m seriously this ordinary. There’s really no need to apologize. You would never pick me out in the crowd, and it’s not important. I’m not important. In fact, let’s talk about you! You’re wonderful! You’re extraordinary! Let’s talk about the fact that people are talking to you as if you’re just some ordinary person, when in fact you’re this marvelous creation sitting right here!”

Meanwhile, I will eat my oatmeal, make my weekly soup, and live as small and local as I can. I’ll report about it on stage and in books every so often. And I promise, you’re not going to recognize me then, either.

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