Less Than Ideal

Years ago, Electrolux vacuum cleaners ran a catchy ad campaign in Great Britain. The slogan went like this … “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.” I think it’s funny, but I can imagine some people taking it the wrong way. It reminds me of a story …

I remember serving in a large church in Austin, Texas. On a Sunday morning, I observed one of my youth workers engaged in conversation with a student. The youth worker was a retired school teacher; very polite, educated, and very classy. During the conversation, the student repeatedly said, “that sucks, this sucks, they suck, etc…” Finally, the youth worker replied, “why not say ‘less than ideal?’ It will make your point without losing your listener.”

Great advice!

That said, in her article for the Associated Baptist Press, Amy Butler makes a good point about the need for excellence in ministry. Her use of the phrase “don’t suck” turned off some readers, while others found it refreshingly real. Regardless, I applaud and echo the spirit of her message.

Churches, ministries, and ministers too often settle for mediocrity. They embrace average.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard a Christian complain that the pastor or praise band at the proverbial “other church” down the road was all about performance, when in reality they were very, very good, well, I might not need that annuity after all.

I once consulted a church regarding their plans to hire an additional staff person. When I offered a sample job description, they wanted to remove all references to an expectation of excellence. Another church struggled to conceive why they should include budget funds for the continuing education of their staff, while at another church the staff members I consulted wondered why they needed to set aside time for continued improvement through books, seminars, conferences, retreats, etc… All three are squarely in the zone of mediocrity.

John Maxwell once said, “Nobody pays for average.” I can’t stand average. Average is not exciting. Average is not attractive. Average is not innovative. Average is not creative. Average is not worth people’s time. Average is not a reflection of our best. Average is not worthy of our calling.

Whether it’s from churches that settle for sloppiness, laity that embrace average, or ministers that just choose to cruise; the attitude to be okay with just good enough, well that attitude … functions like a shop vac … or a vampire … or the tentacles of an Octopus … I think you get what I’m saying.

That attitude is less than ideal.

Here’s a link to Amy Butler’s article. It’s really good – it is NOT less than ideal


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