By Danya M. Jordan
The Bible is full of ordinary people. God loves to make extraordinary out of the ordinary; how refreshing! Mary and Joseph as Jesus’ unassuming, young parents, are prime examples. Two amazing ordinary leaders I had never really noticed are only mentioned in the Gospel of Luke 2 story of Jesus’ birth–Simeon and Anna.
Only days after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple for His purification. Enter a “nobody” named Simeon…
“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’ Luke 2:25-32
Simeon–What a courageous, anointed man! The passage goes on to say that Mary and Joseph marveled at what Simeon said about Jesus. These verses are the only time Simeon is mentioned. What an impact he made on God’s Kingdom.
Then another “ordinary” named Anna enters the Luke 2 stage:
“There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” –Luke 2: 36-38.
Wow, Anna! What an amazing example. What a leader. What a somebody.
It’s exciting to look at a few common traits, I believe, between the nobodys God transforms into somebodys–the shepherds, Simeon, Anna, and so many others in the Bible. All these “nobodys” wholeheartedly display that they are:
- Available to be used by God
- Attuned to the Holy Spirit
- Agile–Age is not an excuse
Each one of these traits is a high calling. I pray to embody more of each. It’s a journey. I’m no expert. Here is what I believe to be true about each trait:
- Available to be used by God: God wants our availability, not our abilities. Like Simeon and Anna, they were in the temple waiting on baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Even the shepherds “hurried off” and found Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus in the manger. They were flexible and available. May we be ready for God’s service, saying, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10).
- Attuned to the Holy Spirit: Simeon was “righteous and devout.” Three times in slightly more than a verse the Bible mentions how the “Holy Spirit was upon him.” How do we get more attuned with the Holy Spirit? The short answer is to pray and fast, like Anna did; to spend time in God’s Word “listening” to God speak and answer us; worship regularly in a Christ-centered church; and to live a life of integrity. It seems like a tall order. That’s what grace is all about, at least in my life. 🙂
- Agile–Age is not an excuse: Whether you are five years old or “very old” like Anna, we can be used by God. Simeon was also older because the passage said the Holy Spirit said he wouldn’t die before seeing the Lord’s Christ. Nowhere in the Bible does it talk about spiritual retirement. Whatever your age, whatever God calls you to do, He will equip you. No excuses.
- Humble–Each effective person in the Bible and in today’s world who is the most effective leader embodies humility. Simeon prayed “now dismiss your servant in peace” (Luke 2:29b). Anna “gave thanks to God and spoke to all about the child” (Luke 2:38). They decreased as God increased (John 3:30). Please, Lord, I pray daily to decrease as You increase.
May we be encouraged that God can use each of us for His service. As the old Christian song says, “I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody about the Somebody who can save anybody.” Merry Christmas, friend.
–Name other “ordinary nobody’s” in the Bible and/or your life who God has transformed into “extraordinary somebody’s” for His glory. Please comment.
–“…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” –Ephesians 4:1-2.
–Which of the four common traits will you focus on as we launch into 2021? You are a somebody.