I love my job. I love the fun my students and I have in class. I love when they have those “Aha!” moments where they finally understand a difficult concept or lesson. I love to see my young students move into middle school, then high school, and finally to watch them walk across the stage at graduation. All of these reasons help to encourage me when the days get tough and the hours of lesson planning grow long.
There’s only one thing about my job that leaves me frustrated time and time again and to which I have yet to find an answer, and that is the growing tendency for students to settle for mediocrity. It always breaks my heart when I’ve toiled over a lesson and spent a lot of time presenting it in a fun and engaging way, only to have a small handful of students react with little to no enthusiasm. It’s even worse when I hand back graded assignments and some of the kids are completely content to have scored a C or D. In their mind, as long as they didn’t get an F, they’re doing just fine. It seems that many of today’s kids, and many people of the world in general, are mastering in mediocrity.
I wish this were a small, isolated problem, but I’ve noticed it’s becoming more prevalent in the church as well. In the 31 years I’ve spent as a Christian and working with various congregations of which I’ve attended, I’ve seen many saints actively and lovingly seek to serve God in everything they do. They want to spend time with other Christians and make God a priority in their lives. But, I’ve also seen the prevalence of mediocrity trending upwards as well, and this is not just a new problem. Jesus himself addressed this situation in the book of Revelation when speaking to the church in Laodicea.
“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
As we can see from this text, this church had developed a lukewarm or even mediocre attitude towards God. They were content to brag about their wealth in Christ and yet they lost their fire for Him. We are especially drawn to verse 20 where Jesus says he is patiently knocking at the door to our hearts, hoping that we will invite him in. We see that this is a very intimate invitation from God not to settle for mediocrity. He wants our love for him to burn brightly, not out of compulsion or duty, but because we long to be in the presence of our Father.
This mindset must begin by how we view God and his instructions for us. When we read the Bible as a policies and procedures manual, we may naturally find the easiest, most comfortable means to fulfill it. On the contrary, we must view God’s word as a love letter written from a Father who desires communion with his children. Mediocrity has no place in this relationship.