This sentence may strike you as odd, especially in light of the last one (“I am far more sinful and wicked than I ever dared believe and far more loved and accepted in Christ than I ever dared hope”). Let me explain.
This sentence comes from one of my college baseball coaches, Eric Snider. He usually said it when I was in a deep hitting slump. At least once a season, my swing would fall apart and my hitting would go in the toilet. My confidence would sink. During these moments, Coach Snider would pull me aside and remind me, “You’re never as good as you think and you’re never as bad as you think.”
Coach Snider was trying to help me see that in the 4-for-4 days I wasn’t really all that special, and in the 0-for-4 days I wasn’t really all that awful. Therefore, I shouldn’t base my confidence on my performance or on the circumstances of any one game. What mattered was who I was over the long haul.
Not Theologically Speaking
Now, I understand that there are some theological issues with this statement in an ultimate sense. Theologically, when it comes to our standing before God, it’s true that you’re never as good as you think — but it’s decidedly false that you’re never as bad as you think. The truth is that you’re far worse. Even your best acts don’t merit God’s favor (Isa 64:6).
In Practice, Very Helpful
But this sentence has helped me tremendously when it comes to dealing with the ups and downs of life and ministry. When attendance is up and compliments about my sermons abound, I’m tempted to think it’s because I’m really something. But I’m not.
And when criticism mounts or a good leader turns his back on me, I’m tempted to think it’s all my fault. But it’s not.
So many pastors are blown around by every circumstance. They gripe about how hard Mondays are because they can’t stop beating themselves up for how their sermon could have been better. What a miserable way to live.
In God’s common grace, he used Coach Snider to teach me this valuable lesson and save me — and my family — from basing my identity on my circumstances, whether success or failure. I’m so thankful.
What’s a time or situation in which you’ve been tempted to be overly puffed up or overly discouraged by the circumstances you’re facing?