“You are a child of God,” according to a passage from a popular quote attributed to Nelson Mandela. “Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. [You] were born to manifest the glory of God that is within [you].” In other words, we serve neither ourselves nor the world when we allow ourselves to wallow in mediocrity. We were instead created to pursue excellence.
There was a time during my college years when my life seemed to have gotten off track. It was not that I was doing anything bad like getting in trouble or flunking out of school, but neither was I doing much good in school or my personal life, just mediocre. I remember feeling sort of blah about life in general, unsure of my goals and with little passion for anything. Then one day I received a small envelope in the mail containing a tiny note card with a handwritten message scribbled on it that was no more than three sentences long. So illegible was the handwriting that there were certain words I never did decipher. But the message was clear and concise. “You’re better than what you’re doing,” it essentially said. The note came from an old neighbor back home who had been quietly observing my mediocrity from afar and felt compelled to give me a gentle and loving nudge, for he knew me and the potential I had – better than I knew myself at the time.
While that little note did not immediately snap me out of the funk I was in, it did make me painfully aware of my mediocrity until over time I began to pull myself out of the doldrums. I have treasured it all these years for all the wisdom it contained, but especially for the man who cared enough about me to take the time to write it.
May we all be thankful for those in our lives who recognize our potential, and care enough to give us a nudge when we get off track, who remind us that mediocrity and playing small don’t serve the world. We are children of God, after all, born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. That’s what we’re here for.