March 10, 2011

Ordinary Greatness

Last week, I read some notes from a talk Eugene Peterson recently gave at a conference. That led me to do some research on Peterson and I found that I really liked his perspective on life and spirituality and ministry.

Peterson is best known for his Bible translation, “The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language.” but he didn't start out with the idea of translating the entire Bible. He started out as a pastor who wanted his congregation to better understand the Scriptures.

The process began when Peterson translated the Book of Galatians to facilitate a Bible study he was leading at his church. Eventually that translation of Galatians got into the hands of an editor. He loved the translation so much that he shared it with his friends and begged Peterson to translate the entire New Testament. After some prodding, Peterson agreed to do it. Later Peterson was asked to translate the Old Testament as well. Now “The Message” translation is read by millions of people around the world.

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The thing that stood out to me the most was the fact that Peterson still doesn't think of his translation as a big deal. To him, writing “The Message” was just a natural expression of his work as a writer and pastor.  Peterson tries to maintain a simple life, rarely traveling or accepting speaking engagments outside of his job as a professor at Regent College.  

Peterson's story makes me realize that you can impact many people simply by doing something that is an ordinary part of your life.  That is remarkable and encouraging.  It also helps me realize that you can be aware of the impact you're having but remain grounded.  What we call ordinary can be seen as greatness.  And yet that greatness doesn't have to give us an inflated view of ourselves. 

The ordinary might be more important than we think it is.

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