Sometimes we have trouble defining mediocrity, but we all know it when we see it. When we see a half-hearted effort, or something that’s obviously less than our best. But what is it that causes mediocrity? Is it a matter of time, talent, or resources?
None of those things is the cause of mediocrity.
Even if we had the greatest abilities, unlimited resources, and all the time in the world, we’re all capable of being mediocre.
For those who serve in ministry, this is no less true. You’d think that if we have the greatest cause in the world to motivate us—going forth and making disciples of Jesus Christ—there would be nothing that could stop us from being less than excellent.
And yet many of us give less than our best. Why?
Because mediocrity starts in the heart.
Paul Tripp explains:
Mediocrity is not a time, personnel, resource, or location problem. Mediocrity is a heart problem. We have lost our commitment to the highest levels of excellence because we have lost our awe. Awe amnesia is the open door that admits mediocrity. Awe of God is fear-producing, inspiring, motivating, convicting, and commitment producing. There is no replacement for this in the leadership of the church of Jesus Christ. Awe protects us from us by asking more of us than we would ever ask of ourselves. Awe reminds us that it is not about us and so keeps us from dropping our guard when it might be convenient to do so.
Awe reminds you that God is so glorious that it is impossible for you, as his ambassador, to have ministry standards that are too high. I’m not talking about lavish, expensively furnished buildings. No, I’m talking about a sturdy commitment to do everything you can to display the glory of his presence and grace as powerfully and clearly as you can each time his people are gathered. You are in such awe of, and have been so satisfied by, his grace yourself that you have a zeal to display that grace to those under your care, a zeal you can get no other way. You are never just doing your duty. You are never just cranking it out. You are never just going through the motions. You are never just putting on a front. You are worshiping your way through whatever you are doing at that moment as the ambassador of an expansively glorious King. And you are in reverential fear of doing anything that would dent, diminish, or desecrate that glory in any way. As a pastor, you are a glory-captured tool for the capture of others.
—Dangerous Calling, pp. 141-142