September 21, 2020

Pastoral Nuggets: Well, It Is Better Than It Was

In his book, “Real Evangelism,” the author, the late Dr. Bailey Smith, states, “In a small town where I once was pastor, there was a man who had a strange reply to people who complained how he might have repaired something at his fix-it shop.

His oft heard response was, ‘Well, it’s better than it was.’”

The only problem is, merely making something better than it was, was not the goal of a fix-it shop.

Our clue lies in the name of his business. It was a “FIX”-it Shop. It is easy to see that excellence in service was not his goal.  Mediocrity ruled the day!

My doctor and I have a unique doctor patient relationship. And I really like him! Most of you, who are regular readers of my ramblings, know that I am diabetic.

It had been quite some time since I had been to my doctor for a well-visit checkup. I finally went.

After all our discussion about me he informed me of all the tests he was ordering, one of which was to check my A1C level. For my non-diabetic readers, this test gives a ninety-day average of your blood sugar levels. My target is 7.0.

I told my doctor that I would not be surprised if mine came back at 14.0.  Naturally, that did not make him happy. But, oh well!

When I returned for my follow-up visit my A1C result was 7.9. I told him, “You are probably not excited about my level being 7.9, but I am!”

To which he replied, “Aaron, it is amazing to me how low you set goals for yourself, then celebrate when you hit them!” At that moment, I was thinking like the fix-it shop guy! Hey! It was a lot better than what it could have been! At that moment, mediocrity ruled my day!

Throughout my pastoral ministry, most of the time I have had a gaggle of young preachers under the influence of my ministry. One piece of advice that I have always given my young preachers, is regarding sermon preparation.

I told them that whenever they are scheduled to preach, Satan will always attack their preparation time.  He will throw everything but the kitchen sink at them to distract them.

And if he could get the kitchen sink loose, he would throw it too!

But I told them, when those times come, and they will come, when you enter the pulpit feeling inadequately prepared to preach the sermon God has placed on your heart, whatever you do, do not announce to your congregation that you have not had time to adequately prepare the sermon.

They will figure it out soon enough on their own! Do not help them along the way! It was Dr. Herschel Hobbs who stated, “… a person does not have to advertise the obvious.”

Soon enough it will be painfully obvious whether or not the preacher, teacher, singer, or anybody in the service of the Lord, is ruled by the discipline required to perform with excellence, or if mediocrity is the order of the day.

Here is an obvious truth for you – The world in which we live today is in a tee-total mess!  We do not need pastors, teachers, singers, deacons, lay-people, elected officials, and anybody else you can think about, to buying-in to the thought, “Well, it is better than what it was.” No! We need people to commit to excellence.

As I was writing this column, a truth came to my mind that I was taught as a child. It simply says, “No matter the job, large or small, do it well, or not at all!”

America is in deep trouble today. Do you know why? It is because, whether it be quality of work related, quality of health related, or Spiritually related, there is no longer a demand for excellence.

We have bought into the thought, “Well, It Is Better Than It Was!” But that is not our goal! Excellence, in all aspects of life, must once again become our goal!

Brother Aaron

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