Friday, October 18, 2013

Being Adequate

I have become the substitute Bible study leader for the men's Bible study group in our church. Really, this week was only the second time I have done it. I have been a pastor a long time and led many such studies. But this group intimidates me. Most of the men are older than I and have had successful careers. They have met together for a long time and are students of the Bible. They meet for breakfast but what they want is a Bible study. The man who has been their pastor and is now the area Bishop is their usual leader. They have high expectations. So, it surprised me this past week when one of the men asked who was leading the study because the Bishop was away. I raised my hand, and the group's facilitator, kiddingly, said, its that new guy from Alaska. The man who asked the question looked my way and commented, well you're an adequate replacement. Hmm, I was not sure how to take that. Then, later reflecting on why his comment took me back for a moment, I wondered why. When I shared this moment, and a laugh about it, with a friend, she said, well you know schools are evaluated on whether they make adequate yearly progress. So, adequate is not a bad thing. No, it is not, but why does it sound like it is. I mean would we vote for a political candidate whose campaign slogan was: Vote for me, I will be adequate! Or, if you were looking for a cardiologist to do a bypass on you how would you feel if a friend told you about a doctor and described him as one who would do an adequate job on you. You were looking for a more than adequate heart specialist, weren't you. See, we tend to see adequate as average and so we don't want to settle for that. We want to be more than, and certainly not, barely. But, is adequate so bad. Adequate gets the job done. An adequate teacher will get you reading and counting to a hundred. You can take it from there. An adequate carpenter can build a house. An adequate writer can write a book. Adequate parents raise good kids. An adequate pastor studies the Biblical text and preaches an adequate sermon which is faithful to the text and he/she shows up at the hospital when you need him/her. An adequate baseball player can hit .275 and field his position or win 15 games with an ERA of 3.00.  Adequate is ok. More than ok, it is good for most things in our lives. If we shoot higher we may end up there; if we shoot lower we won't. Being adequate can bring contentment, it's honest, and it lowers expectations which usually lead to disappointment, anyway. There is a law of averages which pertains to all of us. So, go out and be adequate.