Thursday, October 2, 2008

dare to do things badly

Our minister is a very godly man: he has chosen to do something he's less good at for the sake of the gospel. Let me explain.

John often says that he was a much better doctor than he is a minister. (NB: I find this hard to believe.) But he was so convinced of the importance of helping people understand, believe and obey the Bible, that he gave up medicine for full-time paid Christian ministry.

This was a much harder decision for John to make than most of us. You see, John, like me, is a perfectionist. And, believe me, perfectionists like to stick to the things they're best at, and they like to do them well. ...

Here's a list of some of the things I'm bad at: ...

Read the rest at Sola Panel


John Dekker said...

Yeah, I've heard this lots of times, and always found it hard to believe.

Me, I think I'm already much better at being a minister than I ever was at being a teacher...

BGSydneyside said...

Thanks Jean,
(I thought I'd comment here- less scary ;)
I love your stuff on perfectionism because I think it is an avenue to sin that many of us aren't aware of. I assumed I wasn't a perfectionist because I'm such a messy at-hoc person. But I realised that my standards for myself in ministry and study are so high to be unrealistic and that I avoid trying new things because I don't want to go through the stage of being bad at them. How challenging to stand before Christ knowing we bring nothing. What a challenge to serve him even when we won't be as good as we'd like to be. How great that he uses us not because we are wonderful but because he is kind!

Jean said...

John, did you mean you'd heard this about John, or about lots of others as well?

I do believe John thinks this about himself - and he may have been a better doctor, who knows? But I do know he's a wonderful minister, which is what I meant with my qualifier!!

Jean said...

B, you do realise you just illustrated your own point about yourself! Maybe next time you should "dare to do things badly" and comment on Sola Panel! If it's scary commenting, imagine how scary it is writing for them! ;) Interesting that women seem to find it harder than men to put their views and comments "out there".

And your comment was wonderful and helpful anyway. You're right, we often actually think of perfectionism as admirable, or fail to recognise it in ourselves. And yes, "How great that he uses us not because we are wonderful but because he is kind!"

I would love to reflect and write more on perfectionism - perhaps next year, I don't think I have time this year. It is so deeply rooted in me, that I actually find it hard to see it clearly. I battle it every day, and feel like if I pulled the root of this sin out, I'd be pulling myself out by the root too, if that makes sense. I guess it's the same with all our most deeply held idols, be they anxiety, people-pleasing, control, or fear.

Check out the comments when they appear on Sola Panel. There were some interesting observations about perfectionism and grace. And when I think about it, there's probably no sin which is more opposed to the heart of the gospel: grace.

Sharon said...

Jean I was wondering if you had any ideas on where to draw the line with different avenues of ministry. What I mean is probably best illustrated by this more specific question:

I have a husband and four children. At what point to I draw the line and say "I've ministered enough to my husband (his shirts will be hung up but they won't get ironed) and my children (they can go to a private Christian school and not be homeschooled after all)" so that I can then say, "now it's time for me to minister to others outside my family (lead a Bible study, take on a class of Sunday school kids, or just sit and chat with the next door neighbour who's recently divorced and hurting)"?

This is a very real problem for me because my husband will soon be a minister (well, if he gets through all the interviews) and I want to support his work in whatever church congregation we end up with but I also know I have a very real responsibility to be "busy at home" and I don't want to shirk my duty just to get on with the fun or exciting stuff outside our home.

I know there is an element of needing to submit to my husband's leading in this, but I'd also like to know my choices are right because they're right, not just because I'm being obedient in making them.

Ideas? Comments?

~ Sharon

sandra j said...

Thanks for this Jean! The whole need-vs-gifts thing has been a huge (& confusing) thing for me to try and work out in thinking about me & ministry - particularly whether it's better to do something less important very well, or to do something very important less well.
It's good to have this counter to the ubiquitous (and, in my experience, largely unhelpful) emphasis on discovering your gifts!