I recently posted this on facebook. I’ll let you read it as posted and then re-cast it in terms of involvement in the ministry of the local church.
The person who makes that first tentative brush stroke on the canvas, writes that first word, throws that first lump of clay on the wheel, plays those first notes on an instrument, sings those first words…whatever their artistic curiosity, no matter how naive, primitive or mediocre the results, that person has already achieved infinitely more than the one that lets fear of failure keep them from trying.
A corollary to this may appeal to the perfectionists among us. The one who tries nothing, perfectly succeeds at nothing.
I believe that to be true. It is also true that not every artistic attempt will win accolades beyond a few family members and a hand full of friends who don’t quite know how to tell you what they really think with out discouraging you. Yes, there are some who seem to have the golden touch of some natural profound talent. For the rest of us, a significant investment of time in instruction and practice will improve our craft, perhaps to a remarkable level of mastery, but face it, most of us will be average. That’s not so bad. if you are perfectly average you are already better than nearly half the people who pursue the same art…if that is even what matters.
Now let’s shift this to ministry. I have worked in the church in both volunteer and vocational capacities. I have seen a lot of remarkably average people accomplish the majority of the work in the church. For that matter, I have been humbled by the dedicated and effective service of people who some would consider far from qualified. Occasionally you meet an incredibly talented individual who accomplish much, but unless they are also deeply humble servants, they can discourage the less talented from participating. Please don’t confuse apparent excellence with effective ministry in the messy community we call the Church.
Even the most fumbling, bumbling, untrained person will accomplish more than the person who is either afraid to try or worse, indifferent to need to serve in the church. Sorry folks, but the work is not done by perfect pastors – they don’t exist. Nor is the work done by perfect elders – they don’t exist. Nor is it done by perfect community group leaders, Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, ushers, greeters, techies, secretaries, coffee makers…you name it – because they don’t exist. Sorry, but the only way the work gets done is if everyone takes what ever talent, gifts and energy they have and uses it for the mutual benefit of the church and world we are called to minister in. If you don’t try, you will not succeed at all. At least the naive novice who dares to try will accomplish something.
If you think these are just clever words consider what Jesus said in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. I dare say it best to give your self permission, toss fear out the window, or what ever is necessary to use what abilities you have in the service of others. Do something.