1. the action of departing from an established course or accepted standard. "deviation from a norm"

2. the amount by which a single measurement differs from a fixed value such as the mean.

I used to live a pretty button-downed life with a pretty button-downed faith. I felt like I had it all figured out. That I had God all figured out.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

God is unknowable. If you think you have Him all figured out, it isn’t God, it is some subset of who He is that you have landed on and defined. It is a portion of the unknowable God, but it isn’t Him.

A perfectly known and articulated life removes the specter of surprise, adventure, or discovery.  That is a subset of the life intended and not the abundant one we are all desiring to find (whether we have quit desiring it or not).

Certainty is the mark of the commonsense life – gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. This is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but it should be an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God.
— Oswald Chambers

I am finding that the example of others leading more abundant lives is helping me to move the needle on my own. In order for me to move one standard deviation from the norm, I need to be watching and listening to those that are living 2-3 standard deviations out.

And if I am going to coach and coax others out into the deeper and more uncharted waters slightly away from the mean, I am going to need to start living at least 1-2 standard deviations out as well.

Some of the tools God has used to help draw me out of the boat onto the water are:

  • Aaron McHugh’s Life, Work, Play podcast - rebooting his life and living a more extraordinary story
  • Morgan Snyder’s Becoming Good Soil podcast, blog, writing, and conferences - exploring the themes of sonship and Kingdom living
  • Lifeplan - uncovering purpose, calling, and excavating the story of your life to help you map a clearer and more abundant future
  • The Enneagram - an ancient personality profiling tool that helps people understand what they are like when they are healthy/redeemed/integrated and what they look like when they are not.

There are others, but those are the ones that come to mind most prominently.  

This journey toward living a more abundant life, standard deviations away from the norm, has taught me a couple of things:

  • People are threatened by your breaking ranks with what they feel is normal
  • They likely will not celebrate your movement toward freedom and more abundant life
  • Walking with God into this incredible uncertainty brings a certainty to it that is more clear and sure than anything else in your life


  • Does your spiritual life feel fixed, contrived, or lacking surprise?
  • How close are you living to the “mean” of the standard Christian life?
  • Are you living with the breathless expectation that comes from hope and uncertainty?
  • What would one standard deviation from the norm look like for you?