Matters of Faith: Beyond Mediocrity


by Rev. J., Loren Russell, BS, MDiv


I went into a Subway restaurant to purchase a salad. There was a lone gentleman sittingat a table having lunch. I greeted him in typical fashion as I walked in. He then asked me how I was and I responded, “I’m great!” He then said, “’I’m great!’ is a rare response.” To which I replied, “Well, if you don’t speak it, you can never be it.” When he responded, “Some people are angry at their jobs,” I knew he was looking for someone to talk to. It’s amazing what people will share with you when they sense that you care about them and what they are going through.


“They are angry and they have jobs??” I asked. He then told me that he was recently released from his job as Director of Human Resources a little more than a month after he started. When I asked him what his plans were going forward, he said, “Send out lots of resumes.”


We continued to chat as I waited for my order. I asked him if the job he had was the job of his dreams, to which he responded, “No.” I then said to him “The Lord often closes a door in order to get us moving in the right direction. It’s unfortunate that He often has to operate that way, but if it were left up to us, most of us would just stay where we are, wallowing in mediocrity and allowing our real potential to lie dormant. This is your opportunity to reach beyond what’s comfortable and grab what’s ordained.”


2 The Lord told him:  3 “Leave here and travel eastward. Hide out in the Kerith Valley near the Jordan.

7 After a while, the stream dried up because there had been no rain in the land.  8 The Lord told him,  9 “Get up, go to Zarephath in Sidonian territory, and live there. I have already told a widow who lives there to provide for you.” (1 Kings 17: 2-9 NET).


The Bible tells the story of Elijah the prophet, who was told to leave his home, a place he had known and had grown comfortable (1 Kings 17: 2-9 NET). He prophesied to King Ahab about a pending 3-year drought that was not well received. Now, it was time to go. I doubt he would have gone on his own. Circumstances made him leave, first to Kerith Valley, then to Zaraphath. But in both places, he grew from mediocrity to his potential. God sometimes allows our circumstance and situations to precipitate our movement; to stimulate our God-given gifts; to take us to the heights He planned for us; to take us out of mediocrity into our full potential.


I believe The Lord closed his door for the gentleman in the Subway store before he could get comfortable so that he could get to that other door, the one that has been prepared just for him, the one that will allow him to reach his highest potential; that will take him beyond mediocrity to his greatest capability. Like Elijah, the prophetic word he spoke about the drought was powerful, but his greatest potential would not be found in the land of Jericho. He had to leave. But when he went to Jericho, he was no longer a mediocre prophet, he was the great prophet Elijah who was able to defeat 450 false prophets (1 Kings 18:22+), anoint a king (1 King 19:15), and ultimately was carried to heaven by a whirlwind in a chariot of fire (2 King 2:11). Here’s the best thing, Elijah not only went beyond mediocrity, he passed that same blessing on to his servant. His servant Elisha was blessed with a double portion of his own anointing. When you get beyond mediocrity, it’s contagious!

Be Blessed!


Rev. J. Loren Russell, BS, MDiv, is an associate minister at both Goodwill Baptist and Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx.

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