7.22.2011

The Very Worst _____________ .

Today, through the magic of the interwebz, I bring you a guest post from Matt Appling, who writes The Church of No People, and who is in Mexico on a short term missions trip, at this very moment, because he's just cool like that! I hope you enjoy Matt's post as much as I did:
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Hey there. I’m really excited to be guest posting on Jamie’s blog because people who read her blog are obviously very smart people. As I thought about what I’d write for the Very Worst Missionary’s blog, one question kept coming back to me…

What’s it like to be the very worst at something?

No one ever sets out to be the very worst.

We all want to the best at whatever we try to do. And if we can’t be the best, then we want to at least be decent. And if not decent, then at least not embarrassing. And even if we embarrass ourselves, we hope there’s still someone even worse than us, so we aren’t the very worst. Everyone needs some poor sap nearby so we can say, “At least I’m not as bad / uncoordinated / stupid / ugly as that guy.”

Our parents didn’t really give us fair warning that we’d be the worst at anything…unless they were the worst parents. It wasn’t until we got out in the real world, in front of strangers, fueled by parental encouragement and misguided self-confidence that we really humiliated ourselves at countless ball games and dance recitals.

I’ve realized that my life has been spent trying hundreds, maybe thousands of things that I did turn out to be the very worst at, embarrassing myself all along the way, in an attempt to find the two or three things I’m really good at.

Here’s a few of the highlights, the times when I was the very worst…

The Very Worst Athlete

On the ill-advised encouragement of my parents, I joined a little league basketball team. Although I was a natural child artist, it was decided that I needed to branch out.

As I chased the ball around the court like an idiot, I quickly found that my natural eye-hand skills that I used in art class in no way translated to athletics. Although I could draw a perfect picture of a basketball, that was the extent of my skills with a basketball, or any other kind of ball.

The Very Worst Singer

At our pro-league baseball stadium, each game has an interlude where everyone inexplicably sings Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places,” (because people in Missouri like to pretend they are hicks and cowboys instead of just generic Midwesterners.) At one game, my friends and I were selected to start the song by being filmed on the Jumbo-tron.

We were doing a great job swaying and singing along, until one of the stadium girls (whose job description includes such duties as wearing a tank top and shooting hot dogs from a cannon) told us we were the worst singers she had ever heard. Not to take that kind of smack talk from an overly tan 19 year old, I informed her that she had not shot one t-shirt or hot dog at my face all day, and that made her the worst stadium girl ever.

Still, knowing that my singing is bad enough that a stranger would brazenly insult me me, I try to keep my singing in church to myself.

The Very Worst Pastor

I got into ministry because I care about people. I thought that would be enough to make me a good pastor. But I realized soon enough that being a “good” pastor in the modern sense includes much more than compassion for people. The expectations include a lot of things that I just don’t care about. That’s why I suspect I’m a strong contender for being the very worst pastor.

I just do not care about engaging in the rat race that has become so much of the modern church. I don’t care about competing with the church down the street for members. I cannot make myself care about putting on a great show, or having slick marketing, or creating “brand identity.” I loathe treating church like a business and the idea of calling myself an “executive pastor.” I don’t even know what an “executive pastor” does but I don’t like the sound of it. I just don’t care about any of the things that make pastors “good,” or “successful.”

I’ve been the very worst at a lot more things. Most of the time, being the worst at something feels pretty crappy. I wish I were a better singer and athlete. But given today’s standards for greatness in ministry, I think I’m cool with being the very worst pastor.

Sometimes, being the worst at something isn’t all bad. So let’s hear it: what are you the very worst at?