Gotta Be Bad to Be Great


April 20, 2012 by Jay Helms

What do Tony Blair, Donald Trump, Nicholas Cage, a Business Man, Al Pacino, a Redheaded Woman, and a little crazy Carolina Fan have in common? Take a look and see if you can tell me.

20120420-102935.jpg Tony Blair

20120420-103007.jpg Donald Trump

20120420-103040.jpg Nicholas Cage

20120420-103142.jpg A Business Man

20120420-103209.jpg Al Pacino

20120420-103231.jpg Redheaded Woman

20120420-103312.jpg Crazy Little Carolina Fan (But He’s Definitely Awesome!)

You saw it, right? It was a pretty obvious…they’ve all had a bad hair moment caught on camera for the whole world to enjoy. In poor Donald’s case, it seems his situation has moved from bad hair moment to total and complete hair failure.

One of our great fears is to have a bad moment, be it hair or otherwise, or to fail in front of others. It is even worse when the bad moment or failure has a negative impact on future possibilities. A bad moment on a first date will definitely have long term implications…not just for that relationship, but for future relationships. A bad experience with trying a new thing can leave us swearing off that activity for the rest of our lives.

It’s particularly interesting to me that some of the more involved athletes I know today are people who overcame generally bad athletic experiences from youth. A number of them are great runners today. And they take tremendous delight from the thing that used to bore, frustrate, or humiliate them. How did they overcome their bad experiences to become great athletes? Seriously…what happened? Did they just get bored with the rest of life or was it some stirrings of determination or was it something that flowed from confidence gained in another arena of their lives?

Whatever the root, the ability to survive and overcome a bad experience or a bad performance (or many) is a special gift of love and strength coming down from a Father who loves us. And this gift is what being a disciple of Jesus is all about. It is about a very special man who picks us up, teaches us, and tells us, after we’ve failed or been burned, to “have another go”…no matter how badly we’ve done it…

This is what the englishman G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) was writing about when he said, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” It took me about a decade of walking with Jesus to just begin to get a grip on what he was saying.

I’ve noticed the truth of Chesterton’s quote as I have watched my kids attempt new things in playing piano, soccer, volleyball, and basketball over the last year. If they can’t deal with being bad on their first attempts, they will never be able to get to the point of being fantastic. There are some things we are bad at, which are worth the effort…worth attempting again and again until there is breakthrough to becoming great.

The good news for the disciple who will “have another go” when Jesus invites us to, is before we know it, we will experience joy in the very places that used to bore, frustrate, or humiliate us. I think I can live for that. And I think he’s saying it’s time for another go…


2 thoughts on “Gotta Be Bad to Be Great

  1. annewoodman says:

    Yes, I think this is true. Overcoming adversity is a very important (though challenging) life lesson. I didn’t go to church for several years but went back after lots of soul searching. Life is full of choices. Sometimes we have to try hard to make the right ones.

    • Jay Helms says:

      I have noticed this particular theme coming up more and more everywhere I look, especially with kids who are trying new things all the time and with us trying to do church in a much different way. Sometime, I would be curious to hear more about your experience related to church.

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