I was sitting in my car in the WriterHouse parking lot in Charlottesville, smelling the bagels cooking next door at Bodo’s and talking on my cell phone. An employer had contacted me as a colleague’s job reference. “How would you rate this candidate on a scale of one to five, one being unsatisfactory and five being excellent?” she asked.
“Excellent,” I said with ease as she listed qualities – leadership, communication, team building.
“That takes care of the checklist. Do you have any questions or comments you’d like to add?”
“Yes, for what specific position are you considering her?” When the employer answered, I said, “Oh, that would be a wonderful growth opportunity.”
“What do you mean? Is there a problem?”
“No, every job, especially for the newly hired, should involve professional growth. That’s good for the organization and good for the employee.” I’m not sure she fully agreed.
Why do we expect perfection?
In her book Daring Greatly, Brené Brown (link to Ted talk) cited Teddy Roosevelt’s “Citizenship in a Republic,” better known as “The Man in the Arena” speech. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena… who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming…”
Brown’s point was that daring greatly reveals our vulnerability and creativity, imperfection and beauty. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always needed help with that leap of faith.
So I read today’s post from Richard Rohr: “We don’t come to God by eliminating our imperfection, but by rejoicing in it because it makes us aware of our need for God’s mercy and love and it keeps us humble.”
And I remembered the scripture our pastor quoted yesterday: But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be clear that his extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
Then I returned to the man in the arena. He “who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”
Rejoice in imperfection, humility, God’s love and mercy. The extraordinary power to dare greatly belongs to Him.