Format: Trade Paperback
Religion - Christian Life - Men's Issues
The promo for Average Joe caught my eye:
"Now we're older, with a wonderful wife and kids, as well as a mortgage, a minivan, and a fulfilling but not-so-glamorous job. What happened? All the dreams that once inspired us have evaporated into traffic jams, computer screens, bills, and deadlines. Why is life so ordinary?"
Look at that! A book about me! I had mixed feelings picking it up, though. I was not supposed to be average or ordinary. I always believed what my parents and teachers told me: that I was a cut above, that I had promise, that I was exceptional, etc. I entered college and my ordinariness reared its head quickly. I can relate to what my cousin once told me, that he seemed to get a little less smart at every step in his education.
So here I am, middle-aged, an average Joe. (Or maybe below average. . . .) So what encouraging words does Mr. Meeder have for a guy like me? Not a lot, as it turns out, but I still was encouraged by his great stories and affirmation of what, in the world's eyes, is mundane and common. Meeder's strength, his down-home storytelling with life lessons, has made him a sought-after conference speaker. I love the fact that the stories he tells and the people he profiles are not public figures or historical personalities, but, of course, average Joes he has had the privilege to know: the head landscaper at his college, his grandfather who loved to fish, the cowboy who exemplifies simple wisdom. None of these people made a big impact on business or civic life, but the way they lived touched lives around them in profound ways.
This is one of those books that's easily summarized, with its simple lessons and gentle reminders of what you probably already know. But like a good motivational speaker, Meeder engages you with stories and examples that drive home the simple message. I either read too much into the promotional material for this book, or else the promotional material oversold the message. The subtitle, "God's Extraordinary Calling to Ordinary Men," gave me hope of a stronger, more motivating message. I am torn between Meeder's theme, that even though you're ordinary, you can have an eternal impact on the world around you, and what we typically hear from motivational speakers and writers, that we should aim beyond the ordinary. Meeder's task is to redefine what is ordinary, but I think that task ends up being bigger than what he offers here.
Meeder may be a case in point. This book is the first I have heard of him, but he mentions his work with Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, which he and his wife founded in 1995. This sounds like a terrific ministry, which rehabilitates rescued horses and where kids and families can come for healing and restoration. Yes, Meeder came from a poor family, definitely average Joe material, but he founded this ministry, which is "a global force in its ministry to children, families, and equine rescue." He and his wife "speak at conferences, churches, and events throughout America." I don't know about you, but being the founder of "a nationally renowned nonprofit organization" sounds like former average Joe material, definitely above average Joe. So I'm left feeling like an average Joe being encouraged by an above average Joe that it's OK to be average.
I wouldn't by any means say, Don't read this book! Meeder's stories are engaging, and he provides a handy discussion guide for use in small groups. But I have mixed feelings about it. Maybe I'm wrong. I'm just an average Joe, what do I know?
By the way, Waterbrook Multnomah provided this book to me free of charge for review.
Juvenile Fiction - Religious - Christian - Fantasy
Fiction - Christian - General