Monday, July 13, 2009
Perfection or Maturity
It seems like this time of the year always brings about an energized propensity for focused campus ministry dreaming sessions for the coming academic year. It is a good thing for our work here in Huntsville! This is the exciting part of ministry.
Reflecting on how previous dreams have actually materialized in years past, I must say that I have lacked the ability to execute what is up in this bald head of mine. The semester brings with it a busyness that seems to choke out my good summer intentions. I get caught up in the details of maintaining a ministry somewhat solo. I haven't communicated well. I haven't empowered others well. I spent way too much time perfecting things that don't need perfection. The spacing between paragraphs on our weekly announcements doesn't HAVE to be uniform throughout! The page layout doesn't need to carry with it the golden ratio of design (1.62) before it goes to print.
As I return to my dreaming session, I have realized that something has to change at a core level especially dealing with things being perfect; my attitude needs a little adjustment. I have these perfectionist tendencies that don't want things done sloppy or incompletely; they can always be done better...and so I do them better. While this might be good at times, I think it prevents me from working on matters that really...matter.
With that said, I wonder about Jesus' admonition to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect in Matthew 5:48. How far should we take that little phrase? It would be easy for me to take that one statement completely out of its context and place it on my announcement preparation. Maybe we should do that.
I am inclined, however, to have a little bit of textual restraint. The beginning of Jesus' sermon on the mount (specifically Matt 5:17ff.) calls to mind the shallowness of following rules verses the maturity of true righteousness. You can follow the rules without changing your attitude. You can refrain from murdering someone (the rule), but your anger has already murdered them (the attitude). The shallow righteousness of the Pharisees is surpassed by the mature righteousness of those who take Jesus' words seriously.
I use 'mature' here instead of 'perfect' intentionally because 'mature' gives the connotation of growth or completeness that 'perfection' doesn't. "Be mature as your heavenly Father is mature" is a plausible translation of this passage. It also does something more for me. I can strive for maturity more readily than I can strive for perfection. Perfection seems to be allusive whereas maturity is possible. Maybe it is a mental block of mine...I don't know.
Back to my perfectionist tendencies. The mature/perfect person (as I understand) would let some tasks go in an effort to get other (more important) tasks finished. In order to guide a larger process, the manager needs to step back from the details of the assembly line. In order for Kats for Christ to pursue being mature disciples of Jesus better, I need to let go of the margins in our announcements. I probably also need to let go of other tasks as well.
This summer will be a time for us to think about the maturity that Jesus desires of his disciples. Do you need to let go of some things in order for God's purposes to be completed?