Mike Cope's blog

Friday, August 20, 2004

I wonder: how many people feel secretly inadequate? Inside they are afraid that others will find out that they don't know nearly as much as people think. Happens to me all the time. I mentioned yesterday all those wonderful teachers. Well, most of them go here! They listen to me preach. I always feel like I don't know enough about the New Homiletic, about advances in exegesis, about ministry skills, etc. Despite all I read, I feel like I'm a decade behind in my reading. And my audience includes lots of M. Div. students who are getting training I'd kill to receive. An inner voice whispers: they know more than you!! (And it's true. All of my old school colleagues will tell you: we learned almost NOTHING about ministry in seven years--4 undergrad and 3 grad. I learned almost nothing useful or insightful about evangelism, discipling, mentoring, leading, resolving conflicts, working with elders, or counseling. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. I did have wonderful teaching in basic homiletics, Greek, Hebrew, Restoration history, and exegesis. What does that tell you?) Preaching in Abilene may be like being a 48-year-old family doctor in Houston. You have two med schools around you, a world-class medical complex, some of the brightest minds in the medical field. And you're saying, "Stick out your tongue and cough." Hey, someone has to do it. Dr. DeBakey doesn't do sore throats. I think I'm the guy that says, "Stick out your tongue and cough." One blessing I have (that others in similar situations haven't enjoyed) is that most of these "experts" are very encouraging. Many of them have been there in local ministry. They know what it's like to plug along year-after-year. (My 14th year just began.) My guess is that this inner voice isn't very healthy or helpful. Maybe at times it's good for humility. But too often it comes from a desire to impress and wow. It worries too much about comparisons. I like the idea of playing to an audience of one (God). But that's easier to say than do . . . don't you think?

17 Comments:

  • Yes, that's easier said than done, but no one--NO ONE--models that for me more than you. No one. You bring passion and heart to the message of Christ. Those men are thnakful and blessed, I know, to hear your preaching, however, they are probably even more blessed by being in your life.

    As for being inadequate, imagine a Senior in college coming to work with the great Mike Cope--never having aspired to full time ministry. I was the poster child for inadequate. However, you nurtured my gifts and heart for true ministry. A work I can never fully thank you for.

    Having said all that, don't think this gets you out of any kind of blackmail with regard to those pictures yesterday.

    By Blogger Brandon Scott, at 8/20/2004 07:44:00 AM  

  • I wonder: how many people would never think that you ever feel secretly inadequate?

    I have heard some MDIV students walk out of Highland saying "Will I ever be able to do what Mike does?" WOW This is why I love blogs. They let us see the "average Joe" side of people we would never see otherwise. And in your case that "average Joe " quality only increases my respect and admiration for you.... Good thing to after that picture yesterday!! And again I ask, does Diane know what you post on this blog? :)

    By Blogger SG, at 8/20/2004 08:05:00 AM  

  • Knowledge puffs up. Love builds up.

    That's the difference between an "inadequate" preacher and an encourager, a Barnabas.

    A minister who cares enough about his "adequacy" in the word to keep challenging himself and his hearers; who loves them enough to encourage them to keep growing and maturing in faith has NO REASON to feel insecure.

    Stick out your heart and love.

    And you'll always have a doctorate in what's important.

    By Blogger Keith Brenton, at 8/20/2004 08:16:00 AM  

  • I guess it's better than being the "TURN YOUR HEAD and cough" guy though, huh? :-)

    By Blogger Matt Elliott, at 8/20/2004 08:38:00 AM  

  • Sheila and I have and 11 year-old girl and a 13 year-old boy, so our family knows a lot of kids who are either in (or who just started) Middle School/Jr. High.

    What a tough time in life. That inner voice becomes so strong: "Can they see me for what I really am?" "Do they like me?" "What if no one likes me?"

    For me, that voice has never gone away. I've grown used to it. I'm (sometimes) better at not letting it get the best of me. But its still there.

    The other night, I caught a glimpse of The Breakfast Club while I was channel surfing. It brought back a lot of memories, but it also made me wonder about whether I'm that much different today. Did I ever really leave High School? Does anyone?

    By Blogger Matt, at 8/20/2004 08:43:00 AM  

  • Mike, you have one leg up on those professors--you are probably one of the most talented story tellers in the ministry--while it is good to have all that knowledge in one's head, putting one's heart on the line in a good story and to lead others to thoughtfulness and service is what you do best. Besides, it's not too late to work on your doctorate!

    By Blogger judy thomas, at 8/20/2004 08:51:00 AM  

  • I'm still trying to figure out who/what I am; not much room to worry whether anyone else has figured it out. ^_~

    Besides, being a bumbling idiot is part of my irrestistible charm.

    While you're there in the thick of the fabulous opportunites you so envy... why not take advantage of them? At least a few, anyway. Even if you don't feel like monkeying around with another degree, the learning itself is invaluable. If nothing else, you should habitually take these guys out to lunch and pick their brains for a couple hours a week. Ultimately, you'd have spent less on group lunches than the total cost of tuition and will probably have had more fun. ^_~

    By Blogger Q, at 8/20/2004 09:36:00 AM  

  • Thanks, everyone, for your feedback and encouragement. I'm not surprised that others have the same feelings of inadequacy. I think it's lurking behind many of our confident exteriors. Yes, Q, I have become the expert non-tuition payer! I do lunches, sit in on classes, etc. Right now, the classes I'm sitting in on are to help me learn Spanish. My seven years of Greek really trained me well. It's good for Bible study. Unfortunately, not that useful in reaching Abilene minorities. (I should have gone to the Olympics!)

    By Blogger Mike, at 8/20/2004 11:15:00 AM  

  • How thankful I am that you feel 'inadequacy' [read humbleness] rather than arrogance - I'd expect no less from you, quite frankly. Since I first heard you at Pepperdine, you have always exhibited humble gratitude for God's guidance.
    Your prayer beseeching God that "the gift of peaching" flow through you is a perfect example - you do not ask that He GIVE you the gift of preaching, rather that His gift flow through you to all of us. With that prayer, you 'step aside' and give the stage to God.
    Truly, I'm thankful that you feel there are areas that need exploring, talents that need honing - it's called growth, so again I would expect no less from you. [Here's my daily non sequitur - Your series on the Book of John was wonderful. I loved the continuity of studying through a book. Any chance you might be considering doing the same with 1 John?] :>)
    When God instills restlessness in us regarding a partiular area, we do well to prayerfully address that restlessness - looking for His guidance in filling that need, of putting it to rest, so to speak. ;) I'm sure that during your early morning prayer walk you will find His answer to your question.

    By Blogger Kathy, at 8/20/2004 11:31:00 AM  

  • It's been a few years since my Highland days, but it's always refreshing to hear (or in this case, read) the thoughts of a minister who struggles with the same issues that I do and isn't ashamed to share those feelings. I'm getting ready to head into my M.Div. studies at Brite Divinity School and can already hear that faint voice egging me on to aspire to greatness in the eyes of academia. In the midst of family life, schoolwork, and all the other stuff that makes up life, it's hard to differentiate between the still, small voice of God and the other voices that compete for our attention. Thank you for bringing this to the forefront, Mike. Blessings!

    By Blogger Krister, at 8/20/2004 11:54:00 AM  

  • M, I always felt that way about worship leading, but what I recognized is that no matter what I thought about my lack of talent, that was still where I felt most in tune in worship. That's why I am forcing myself more into that role at some level. The sad part is now my lack of talent is probably much more obvious now than when I was a pew-packer. Perhaps I should work on both.

    By Blogger Val, at 8/20/2004 11:59:00 AM  

  • I myself am rather partial to family practice doctors...especially in the pulpit.

    By Blogger Brian Hudspeth, at 8/20/2004 12:21:00 PM  

  • I am reminded of the phrase, "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." Being courageously authentic, preaching with a limp, connecting heart to heart, and working successfully in a system that has a congenital bias towards the role of the preacher/minister -- this is what I see as the unique gifts that you bring to your congregation and students.

    Another saying: "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear." It may be that the some of the CoC Univerities are now ready to allow the teacher to appear.

    By Blogger David Michael, at 8/20/2004 01:41:00 PM  

  • Mike you could be one of those great professors, but I pray that you don't. In the movie Field of Dreams my favorite character was the one Burt Landcaster played (the doctor)who could have had greatness but gave it up to make a difference in others lives. Thank you for making a difference in our lives

    By Blogger spot, at 8/20/2004 02:40:00 PM  

  • This is true: Greek really only prepares you for German which only prepares you to ask the pressing question, "Wo ist dein Wecker?" Aside from that, I hear it comes in handy for exegesis-type stuff and also the occasional question on Jeopardy.

    I actually only mentioned the lunch thing because it just sort of seems exactly the thing you'd do: interact with people -- and maybe force-feed them guacamole, but the ethics of that one are pretty sketchy. Plus, it was the perfect example to illustrate the bumbling end of my thought process.

    I'm glad you are out there, though, and not just because you're picking up valuable knowledge (which I hear Spanish can be, and not just at Taco Bell) but also because you're probably having a bigger impact than you know. (Of course, you could also be being impacted in a bigger way than you know, too, so stay away from the REAL liberals, okay? They're easy to spot: they smell like smoke and/or sulfer.)

    By Blogger Q, at 8/20/2004 05:30:00 PM  

  • Again, I wonder, why is it that we feel the need to hide these fears, insecurities, and inadequacies with each other? Why do need feel like we need to put on our happy "church face" when we encounter our brothers and sisters? Or why, when we ask the question, "how are you" do we expect the "I'm ok" answer and become uncomfortable either giving or receiving anything other than that?

    By Blogger Jenni, at 8/21/2004 04:56:00 PM  

  • "Stick out your tongue and cough."
    "Sniffing out the work of God in this world."

    Same thing to me. : - )

    By Blogger Anne-Geri', at 8/23/2004 08:35:00 AM  

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