Between Ordinary and Exceptional: Embracing the “Mean” with the Holy Spirit

Rev. Bradley Swire   -  

Imagine a father trying to teach his daughters a little about the complexities of language, only to be met with a clever twist on the word “mean.” Most of us might think of it in terms of behavior, but his daughters cleverly define it as “an average point between two extremes.” This definition, while initially a playful dodge, actually sparked a profound insight into how many of us live our lives—somewhere in the middle, not quite ordinary, but not quite exceptional either.

In Acts 1:1-11, we find the disciples in a similar “mean” state. They are transitioning from ordinary followers into exceptional leaders, equipped with a promise—the Holy Spirit. This promise is not just to lift them into the realm of the extraordinary but to empower them to carry out Christ’s commission in the world. But there’s a catch, a big one: they must wait. They must wait for the Holy Spirit, the gift promised by God, to be endowed with the power to live out their calling.

This waiting isn’t passive; it’s active and full of potential. It’s like waiting for Christmas morning. As a child, the anticipation builds, and while the waiting is hard, the fulfillment is all the sweeter. Jesus tells His disciples, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:7-8). This sequence is crucial: first the gift, then the power, and finally, the witnessing with extraordinary results.

Many of us try to reverse this order, attempting to witness in our own strength, which is like trying to assemble an entertainment center without following the instructions. We might think we can figure it out on our own, but when the structure collapses under the weight of our efforts, we’re forced to admit we missed a crucial step. The disciples, too, had to learn this the hard way. They had to wait for the Holy Spirit before they could effectively fulfill their mission.

How often do we find ourselves living these “mean” lives? Not mean as in cruel, but average, safe, and unfulfilled? The gift of the Holy Spirit challenges us to break out of this mediocrity. It equips us to live not just safely within our means but exceptionally beyond them. God doesn’t give us spiritual gifts just to watch us get by; He gives them so we can thrive, making a significant impact in the lives of others and advancing His kingdom on Earth.

This is not just about individual achievement; it’s about collective transformation. When the disciples received the Holy Spirit, they were able to do far more together than they ever could have imagined individually. They turned the world upside down—not by their power but by the power of the Holy Spirit working through them.

Are you ready to step out of the “mean” and into the exceptional? To move from a life of mundane predictability to one of spiritual adventure and impact? If so, the first step is to wait—not passively, but expectantly—for the gift of the Holy Spirit. And when He comes, be ready to act, ready to move, ready to live the exceptional life God has called you to live.

So let’s not settle for the middle ground between ordinary and exceptional. Let’s embrace the extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit and live lives that truly reflect the greatness of our calling in Christ. The kingdom awaits, and the time to act is now—empowered, not by our own abilities, but by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Let’s go out and live not just average lives, but exceptional ones, in the power of the Holy Spirit!