In the world of ministry, it’s always tempting to ask this question. After all, if we’re going to do something, let’s do it right. Right?
We reinvent and revise and tweak and adjust. We set standards and raise the bar and call our teams to new heights.
And in our darker moments, we make demands and we cajole and we make things look good…not necessarily so things look good, but because those things make us look good.
I hope we agree that perfection is a goal we’ll never achieve. And excellence – though it sounds noble and seems like a worthy target – well, it’s a shifting target. Our version of excellence is someone else’s substandard, and even when we think we’ve hit excellence, someone else comes along and tells us we need to do more.
So how do we address the perfection / excellence conundrum? How do we keep ministry from devolving into performance?
On our team, we’re beginning to superimpose values on top of our actions. If something doesn’t match up to one individual’s version of “excellent,” a simple opinion usually isn’t enough to change the other individual’s behavior. Instead, individual #1 should appeal to our values: “Because our value is x, how do you think we should handle y?”
Because we want to create engaging experiences, how do you think we should handle this clutter in the entryway?
Because we want to care for the individual, how could we have done a better job at follow up?
Because we believe that the gospel is above all, how can we approach this conversation with a disgruntled volunteer?
Perfection and excellence are slippery slopes. Agreed-upon values can serve as the bedrock for solid change.
How can you let your why inform your what?