There’s a lot of talk in youth ministry about excellence and ‘raising the bar’ and setting a higher standard. And there should be. We never need to look at the ways we communicate the exceptional love, forgiveness, and mercy of Jesus in a mediocre light. We should strive for excellence in everything – not for excellence’s sake…but merely because the message we communicate is not mundane or cheap in any way.
I digress – that is NOT what I learned at camp this summer. I already knew that. I also already knew that I have a pretty high propensity for perfectionism. Every single thing on a Wednesday night talk can go exactly as planned, but if the music starts 12 seconds late, I think the entire night was a bust. I could spend three hours (and used to!) making sure all the letters on my bulletin boards were in exactly straight lines (yes, I know that jumps the fence of perfectionism into the pasture of OCD.) In preparing for events, I get so ‘worked up’ about everything going just right that I really get a little crazy.
One year, I was planning a spring retreat. One of my student interns was working hard – but a little more reserved, sullen than usual. When I asked him what was wrong, his reply was maybe one of the most memorable accountability checks I’ve ever had. “I hate it when you get this way. It takes the joy out of ministering with you. Sometimes good enough is good enough.”
Wow. That was almost seven years ago and that healing sting is still fresh and refreshing.
Anyway – so as I was preparing for camp, I kept that mantra going in my head (as I do now before every major thing I do). It doesn’t have to be perfect to be Godly. I need to be obedient to do the work God has set before me and trust that things that go awry are part of The Plan.
So as we are driving our 1,100 miles to camp in luxurious 15-passenger rental vans this summer, my mantra is getting a work out. The vans are nice – not limo nice, but definitely not junk yard ghetto, either. But as we get further and further from home, something becomes very apparent. They are in desperate need of alignment. As we approach the half-way mark, students are losing fillings as we bounce along the highway. Milk left over from our traveling breakfast has turned to butter. Those of us stressed during the preparation for the trip have experienced one of the best massage chairs ever. We’re gonna have to slow down or these vans are going to bounce off the road.
But wait! That’s gonna put us behind schedule. We’re gonna have to adjust all our times. This was not in our plan for the week! “Sometimes good enough is good enough.”
Obviously, this wasn’t something for which we’d planned. Thankfully, it wasn’t a serious breakdown on the side of the road. (Incidentally, if you ever DO break down on the side of the road in New Mexico, be prepared to wait a while…that place is pretty desolate!) But in the interest of safety, we were gonna have to slow down our trip a little bit.
We did that – we only arrived about 20 minutes later than planned (not even enough to adjust our schedules at all.)
Throughout the week, we had a few more opportunities to invoke our mantra. And at one point, it was my honor to pass along the sage wisdom of my intern to another of our adults.
“Darren, don’t you think we should call the rental company and try to get them to replace those vans – or at least repair them? The alignment is really ridiculous.”
“You know, we’ll just adjust our drive time on the way home to accommodate the alignment. We don’t need to sacrifice our week here for a simple alignment – sometimes good enough is good enough.”
“Hmmm. OK, then – you’re right. It’s no big deal.”
Sometimes good enough is good enough. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be right…or holy…or a part of God’s perfect plan for your ministry. Sometimes we can even see God more clearly through imperfection. Sometimes good enough is good enough.