Better Than Nothing Is Good

Sunday keeps coming at the preacher. The youth retreat keeps coming at the youth worker. Hospitalizations keep coming at the pastor.

It terrified me when I started in ministry, the way events demanding good work kept coming at me, often at the same time. Now I love this. I depend on it. If Sunday wasn’t inevitable I might never finish a sermon, and if the youth retreat wasn’t brazenly published on a calendar months before I might never design its sessions. And if people didn’t predictably fall ill and need their insides fixed I might never practice listening and compassion.

This is one of the great advantages of the ministerial profession: work is required before we are ready. Not only does that force us to produce work we might not otherwise, but it also forces us to reckon with grace, as the people we’re doing the work with almost always will tell us that it’s enough, that it’s “good” even. It creates a healthy awareness of our own limits. It makes us less afraid, because we find that the work we’re forging out of our inexperience and our inattention is better than no work at all. Also, we find that our assessment of its value is the least important one.

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