Between "Failure" and "Fraud"

I hear two voices—assessing, accusing. Which will I listen to?

Pastors have always been Sunday fare, but performance expectations can arrive by special delivery any day of the week. On one such day, a congregant arrived in my office to tell me just what she made of my performance as a pastor. In summary, not much.

She was expansive in the adjectives she used to describe my deficiencies. As I listened, I recognized some truth in what she said. But she wanted more than my agreement, she wanted my resignation. Her logic was simple: "If you are not who you should be, you shouldn't be a pastor." By grace, I realized there was another logic worth considering. It says, "You are not who you should be, and God wants to use you anyway."

God's mysterious strategy is to use fallen people to witness to a gospel of hope and transformation. That means underperformance is built into the paradigm. It means those who do not live up to expectations are the very people God uses to call others who don't measure up either. This approach is completely counterintuitive, but ...

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