Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Harvey Hook's new book, The Power of an Ordinary Life: Discover the Extraordinary Possibilities Within, (Tyndale House, 2007).
Your life may seem ordinary compared to people who are famous for changing the world. But you have the potential for something extraordinary within you. If you tap into the power God gives you to make a positive difference, you’ll see your ordinary life become an extraordinary life.
Here’s how you can cooperate with God to make your ordinary life extraordinary:
Choose redemptive action. Understand that in any situation, you can always choose to make a difference for the better by acting for the good of something or someone beyond yourself. Whenever you make that choice, you’re inviting God to use you to help redeem that situation. Choose redemptive action so you can bring hope into even those situations that seem hopeless. Ask God to help you look beyond your own concerns and view situations from His perspective.
Develop reconciling relationships. Be willing to reach out to other people – despite whether or not you like them – and allow God’s love to flow through you to them. No matter what your feelings toward people, choose to act in love toward them. Overcome hatred and hostilities with the greater power of love that leads to reconciling relationships.
Encourage others to seek spiritual restoration. Remember that you represent Christ as you interact with others. Do your best to represent Him well, showing others how He’s at work in your life and encouraging them to seek Him for themselves.
Trade the little for the big. Recognize that, from God’s perspective, there are no little people or little places. Understand that your life has big significance to God, and the ways He calls you to serve Him matter greatly even if they’re small tasks. Ask God to expand your perspective. Stop being preoccupied with yourself or living for other people’s approval. Instead, decide to live to please God.
Listen for God’s voice. Read, study, and meditate on the Bible often to hear what God has to say to you through His Word every day. Expect that, the more time you spend with God in prayer, the more you’ll learn to recognize His voice when He speaks to you. Practice writing down any insights you receive after prayer. Pay attention to the many creative ways God might choose to speak to you through your circumstances. Constantly be listening in case God wants to tell you something.
Fulfill your destiny. Invite God to use you fully, and trust Him with the results of everything you do for Him. Realize that you may not be considered a success from the world’s perspective, but if you live a faithful life, you’ll achieve success in God’s eyes. Rather than pursuing recognition from other people, seek to positively influence them for Christ. Offer your weaknesses to God as well as your strengths, and expect Him to make something beautiful out of them.
Listen for God’s call. Create silent spaces in your life so you can actively listen for God to call you to serve Him in various ways. Eliminate unnecessary noise in your life by making sure that you don’t give more time or energy to anything other than your relationship with God. Make pursuing God your top priority. Know that God will communicate with you in a way that’s uniquely suited to you and what He wants you to do. Listen for His call through the Bible, the Holy Spirit, the body of Christ, the counsel of godly friends, nature, the circumstances of your life, dreams, visions or impulses. As you seek your calling, give yourself permission to be who you really are (instead of who you think someone else wants you to be) and invite God to develop your character. Write down what you think God is calling you to do, tell someone you trust about it, and plan how to act on that guidance in a practical way.
Envision the future. Ask God to give you a vision for what He wants your life to become. Know that if it’s God’s vision, it’s worth pursuing. Remember that vision: enables you to focus on what is not yet as if it were already present, gives you an image of the future that frees you from the distracting and competing demands of life, and helps you focus on an achievable end that is fulfilled in service to others. Let your vision motivate you to take redemptive action in the world, and sustain you as you work to serve others. Make sure your vision is big enough to require God for it to be fulfilled, and big enough to inspire others to join you.
Discover your purpose. Recognize that you’re not here by accident; you’re here because you have something that the world needs. Pray for God to help you understand His purpose for your life. Discover your interests, natural talents, and spiritual gifts and consider how they point you toward God’s purpose for your life.
Define your mission. Think and pray about your mission – what specific actions you should take to live out your purpose in the world. Once you figure out your mission, accept it by taking action. Remember that what God calls you to do, He equips you to accomplish. Be sure to rely on God’s power working through you rather than just your own efforts. Let your experiences help confirm and develop your mission.
Release your gifts and talents. Use the spiritual gifts and natural talents that God has given you to contribute to the world in all the ways He leads you to do so. Accept the unique person God created you to be rather than comparing yourself to others. Become the best you can be, so you can give the best you can give to make the world a better place.
Get your priorities straight. Make your first priority nurturing a close, dynamic relationship with God by spending time with Him above all else every day. Next, learn how to love yourself by seeing yourself as God sees you, and love other people by living in significant relationships with them. Finally, make a commitment to the world around you by serving in the ways God calls you to serve.
Honor Jesus’ three core values. Have a fundamental faith by accepting God’s Word as infallibly true. Have an evangelical lifestyle by recognizing the importance of telling people the Gospel message. Have liberal relationships by being generous with your time and resources, and understanding other people’s weaknesses.
Set goals. With your vision, purpose, and mission in mind, set some specific goals for yourself in these areas: relationship with God, personal growth, family, career, and community and world. Frequently review your goals and your progress to see if you need to make any changes. Make yourself accountable to someone as you pursue your goals, and seek out a mentor who has accomplished similar goals.
Leave a great legacy. Consider what of yourself will live on in the lives of others after you’re gone. Make choices today to create the kind of legacy you’d like to leave.
Step into your authority. Claim the authority you have as a Christian to accomplish great things here on Earth, and rely on Christ to empower you. Let your position in Christ give you the confidence you need to tackle whatever God calls you to tackle. Cooperate with God to set people free to be restored to Him and each other, transforming them into Christ’s likeness in the process.
Adapted from The Power of an Ordinary Life: Discover the Extraordinary Possibilities Within, copyright 2007 by Harvey Hook. Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Ill., www.tyndale.com.
Harvey Hook is regional director for The Gathering, an organization that addresses the moral, ethical, and spiritual needs of business people. He hosts a weekly interview program that airs nationally on the Sky Angel satellite network. Harvey has shared the platform with many others, such as Billy Graham, Charles Colson, and Elizabeth Dole. He served as a contributing writer to Parents and Teenagers (Victor, 1984), and Moving Beyond Belief: Practicing the Presence of Christ in Your Daily Life (Thomas Nelson, 1993).