Wednesday, November 1, 2006

People Don’t Pay for Average

Each year I attend a conference that provides me with tons of material to reflect upon. Ever since I first attended, seven years ago, I have tried to boil down my key learning point for each day into one, powerful moment when I got what I needed to learn most. This year it was the central truth that “people don’t pay for average.” My friend, Tim Elmore said it to me first on Thursday morning and then I heard it again at least three more times that day.

People pay for excellence. That’s why we pay 25% more for a Toyota of the same size than we do a Kia…we trust Toyota. Everywhere boutique specialty shops are springing up, leaving the big box stores to fill their stores with average, to sell the exquisite. Their shelves are filled finest cheeses and wines and imported, organic vegetables. Somewhere along the line we have grown sick of average. Our lives are filled with average but we crave something more. Something better.

Then we go to church where average is rewarded as excellence. So often the church, as a whole, has often settled for average. We have failed to give our very best, holding that back for our personal or professional endeavors. The church has spent the last few decades doing the bare minimum to survive, mortgaging our tomorrows by making shortcuts today. We have let our facilities decay by delaying maintenance; we have cut our staff to the bone and forsaken missional commitments for short-term survival. The more average we become the more our resources dry up. People don’t pay for average.

Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe that’s how we know what’s working and what is a desperate attempt to cling to the past. I’m not saying that every church that is growing is excellent, or even Christian, but I am saying that it is time for Christ-followers to be willing to give their very best in pursuit of what God wants to do with their life. To step back and ruthlessly evaluate what is the best we have and offer that as a thanksgiving offering to God. We must stop living our faith life on leftovers and live it in radical discipleship.

Gracious God, help me to give you my first and my best and to not just give you the leftovers of my life. You who gave us Your best grant me the strength to do likewise. In the name of the divine gift, Jesus, Amen.

Consumed by the Call,
Marty
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