In full disclosure Michael already wrote something better than what I'm about to write. In effect we must look at the little roles in the world and evaluate them as the true shakers for the church. Michael did an outstanding job but I'm going to be a little more personal in my issues with this concept. I've been thinking about this issue with the helpful dichotomy of "boring" and "biography" Christians.
Admittedly, the dichotomy has a limited range of usefulness but I want to flex a little within its arena. As an individual who has struggled with being pertinent and occasional flights of fancy concerning my self-worth this dichotomy has become something of a benchmark for taking thoughts captive.
"Biography Christians" are the types of Christians that other Christians write about. These are the individuals who have familiar names. They have done things. Important things. They are refreshing teachers, doctrinal companions, and coffee sipping partners (in all of these examples I'm picturing book authors). Perhaps they are historical figures who find themselves now on the subject of biographies. Or perhaps in the case of Calvin and Barth the number of titles about them exceeds their own published titles by a significant amount. The kingdom of God has forever been altered by the Spirit working through these Christians.
Perhaps a few steps down. "Biography Christians" leave ripples in churches, cities, and states. People are left talking about them and their influence for years and decades. They may never be famous, true biography individuals but they are remembered. For individuals like me, the desire for relevance extols these people and wrongfully idealizes them. As someone who writes and has been in a place of teaching, there can be significant temptations. No one wants to be irrelevant. No one wants what they write and speak/teach to be irrelevant. The balance between wanting to be relevant and being relevant to an every increasing audience is where the issue of pride lies. Individuals can deceive themselves and others by hiding around the language of "relevance" when they really are striving to be a "Biography Christian."
"Boring Christians" are everyone else. Pardon the potentially offensive title but compared to the "Biography Christian" the only adjective strong enough is boring. These are mothers who stay at home. Mothers who work two jobs. Dads who never get to sleep. Dads who change diapers and cook. Grandparents who loan to the needy out of their retirement. The overnight Walmart worker. The mailman. The IRS guy (yeah even him). These people leave ripples. Perhaps their grandkids will know their name. Perhaps they'll have one or two grandkids named after them. But they're boring. There will be no tv show offers or book deals. This is where the majority of people find themselves. And many relish it.
Christian ethics are boring. Work hard and give to others (Eph 4:28). Don't use your mouth for evil (Eph 4:25, 28). Reject and overturn evil (Eph 5:7-11). Redeem the times (Eph 5:16). No where are we called to be "Biography Christians." We're not called to be Paul. We're not called to be an apostle, history-shaking disciple of Christ. We're called to be boring. Our "good deeds" should cause those around us to "glorify God" (1 Peter 2:12; 3:14-15).
Here the rubber hits the road. Clocking into work on time, changing a diaper, holding the door open for someone, and speaking with a thoughtful tongue are Christian activities to be praised. Being a mom at home fulfills the great commission. Being a plummer fulfills the great commission. The evangelical church has made Paul (and Jesus) the epitome of "Christianity." But the role of prophet and apostle is typical of a "Biography Christian." We are called to live the boring, everyday repeating ethics of the epistles. We're to live our lives as the typological fulfillment of Israel walking around Jericho.
Joshua Torrey is the sole proprietor of Torrey Gazette (don't tell Alaina) and the fullness of its editorial process. That means everything wrong with TG can legitimately be blamed on him.