It was Will Rogers who said, “God must love the common man because he made so many of them.”
The apostle Paul reiterates this truth in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29:
“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” ESV
My personal experience, coupled with what I have read in history and in my Bible, confirms the fact that God loves to take ordinary people and do extraordinary things.
The bottom line is that talent and perceived genius is overrated and “common” is underrated. Jesus is famous for taking common ordinary (farmers, fishermen and other working class types without a high education) people and accomplishing amazing things.
Recently, I read two books that explore the idea of average and common versus genius and hugely talented.
One is the book “Talent is Overrated” by Geoff Colvin. There is a Book Note on this book on my blog site.
The other book is “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell.
Both these books are saying, in essence, the same thing. What we have traditionally called incredible natural talent or God-given genius is simply a matter of years of extreme focus and lots of hard work.
Gladwell cites Bill Gates and Steve Jobs as examples of this and goes on to say that if someone were to devote around 10,000 hours to becoming really good at something, they could become world class. Now, obviously, you would have to have some degree of talent, but you would not have to be super talented or a borderline genius to be world class.
Tim Tebow said this: “Hard work will always beat talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” I really like that–not because Tim Tebow said it (and I like Tim), but because I believe it to be true. The person with a little talent who works hard at it for a long period of time will pass up the person with lots of talent who is not willing to work because they are so talented.
The application of this truth can be incredibly life-changing:
I can make a very special and important contribution and don’t have to be an intellectual giant to pull it off.
- The Bible supports the idea of nobodies becoming somebodies by the grace of God, so I am a strong candidate to be used if I am willing to work hard.
- I don’t have to feel inferior to anyone who is smarter, faster or more talented than I am.
- It gives me courage and hope that I can make a difference whatever my IQ, family of origin or degree of formal education is.
- By God’s grace I can learn how to work hard, but I can’t learn how to be more gifted or smarter, as that is predetermined.
Let’s hear it for the common man/woman who was never a super jock, homecoming king or queen, president of their class or class valedictorian. All of us can still make an incredible difference and really become good (even world class ) if we are willing to work hard (by His grace) and stay focused.