In a world of bigger and better, new and improved, 25% more for free, upwardly mobile, and 7 habits of highly successful people, is it a sin to be average? Is it ok to take a regular math class and drop AP Calculus? Is it acceptable to live in a 1,200 square foot tract home rather than move into the 4,000 square foot “Street of Dreams” house? Does it meet approval to drive a beater with 200K miles rather than a Beamer with 20K miles? Is it acceptable to be a line worker and turn down a promotion to management? Is everyone expected to appear on the cover of Money magazine as the newest rich person? Is it acceptable to try out for American Idol and be so nondescript you never make it into the “best of” or “worst of” highlight shows? Is it ok to be so-so?
When I came to my current church, they were averaging 240 people in two Sunday morning worship services. After four years with me at the helm, I have “grown” the church to 190. I long ago stopped checking the mailbox for my invitation to speak at the church growth conferences. Since I haven’t built the newest or largest mega-emerging-seeker-prayer-movement-small-group-centered-contemporary-worship-charismatic-purpose-driven-missional-church, maybe it is a sin to be “just” an average pastor of an average church.
I take comfort and encouragement from the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. Jesus told the story of a man who left town on a journey. Prior to leaving, he called his three trusted servants together and gave each one a portion of his estate to manage. One received five talents, one received two, and the other received one. Each one’s responsibility was tailored to their respective ability.
When the man returned from his trip, he called the three servants in to give an account of how they had managed his property during his absence. Two of the men returned with different amounts of profit. And yet, they both received the same words of praise. The only one who was criticized was the third servant who did nothing with what he was given. For all three, the amount of their reward was not based on their results, but rather on whether or not they were faithful.
If being average means performing at the best of my level of ability, then being average is acceptable. But if being average is an excuse for laziness and not using all that I have been given, then it is a sin to be average.
If I am faithful in using all of my gifts, abilities, and resources in the task God has given me, then the attendance in the worship service or the size of the offering is not an accurate measure of my success. My task is to be faithful with what God has entrusted to me. It is up to God to determine the size of the harvest and the season it comes in.