You’ve probably heard it said, “Anything worth doing, is worth doing well.” Generally, I agree with that statement. If a thing is worth giving our time for, we should strive to do it with excellence. That’s biblical: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col 3:23-24). As Christians we should be those who work most excellently, because we are serving a better, more worthy, Master. And yet, I’m afraid this ideal of excellence often causes well meaning Christians to stop “doing” altogether. They turn the adage into, “If it can’t be done well, don’t do it at all.” And that is unbiblical. I’ll explain.
There are so many areas in our life where we are commanded to do something by God. We are commanded to read our Bibles, pray, evangelize, encourage one another, etc… and very often, our efforts at obedience are embarrassing at first. We struggle with consistency in our Bible reading time. “Sweet hour of prayer” often looks more like “Sweet 5 minutes of prayer before my mind wanders to a dog on the street.” We bumble through evangelism and encouragement like a four-year-old trying to explain how a microwave works. To say it bluntly, we do not do it well.
And yet, I am convinced these things are worth doing.
- “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word” (Psalm 119:9). Oh how good of an endeavor it is to know and read God’s word. Through it we know God, His commands, our purpose, and most importantly His Son.
- “You do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4:2). To pray is to speak with the Almighty. I know Him through His word, and I speak to Him through prayer. I worship Him and draw down power from on high as I lift my voice to Him.
- “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season” (2 Tim 4:2). We are ambassadors for Christ, and in evangelism, God Himself is making His appeal through us. What a privilege to be allowed to speak the only good news to a lost and dying world. To proclaim the excellencies of the One who brought us out of darkness and into His marvelous light.
- “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb 3:13). And to be brought into a family where God uses us to encourage our brothers and sisters is an immense responsibility. We are watching one another and encouraging one another and fighting with one another to make it to the very end. I say all of this to say, these things are worth doing.
So what should we do when we see the value in doing these things, but we know we will not do them very well at the start? To quote G.K. Chesterton, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” What I mean is this: There are some things that are so worth doing, that they are worth doing even before you are great at them. And these things are so excellent, that to neglect them will be to the detriment of your own soul and will place you in opposition to God. Imagine saying this to God one day: “I was going to read Your words and listen to You once I knew I could read it every morning with perfect comprehension.” I had someone tell me once, “I want to read the Bible, but I don’t want it to feel like I’m just checking off a box.” I told that person, “Checking off a box is better than not reading.” Because here’s the thing, how in the world do you plan to get better at it if you never do it? What if someone treated bike riding like that? “I’ll ride it when I’m better at it.” That person will never ride the bike, because it is only in riding that one gets better. So it is with so many excellent things in God’s word. We will never be excellent at reading the Bible, praying, evangelizing, and encouraging others until we begin practicing, often badly, those very things. And if we decide to wait until we can do them well, we will never do them.
So I want to encourage you to see God’s commands as valuable, and worth doing, and be willing to even stumble your way through them. Don’t let that be an excuse to be sloppy towards the commands of God, but know that every time you are obedient, you are growing and God is working in you to be more excellent than the day before. His promise is to sanctify you, so trust Him. Don’t let an unrealistic expectation of perfection keep you from doing the things that are most good for your soul and most glorifying to God. Pick up your Bible, pray, evangelize, encourage the church, and follow God wherever He leads. If it’s worth doing, be willing to put in the awkward reps of early attempts. Do it badly, and pray for God to help you do it well.
Jacob Crouch 2023
*Thanks to Bob Kauflin and the podcast Sound + Doctrine for the phrase.
2 thoughts on “Anything Worth Doing, Is Worth Doing Badly”
I was just thinking (and thanking the Lord) for the person who long ago shared the Gospel with my mother and in turn, she with her children. I was 12 at the time and the seeds sprouted and grew & both my sister & I became believers. I have many years to look back upon (I am now 75) and I am certain the lady who shared the Gospel also shared a hefty portion of Legalism along side the Good News. While it took many years for the Lord to untangle me from that web, still I was and am His. I am in His Family with all the privileges of being His child. Had that dear lady chosen not to share for fear that her sharing wouldn’t have been perfect or “not done well,” only God knows the fate of my mother, sister and me. Your post is an encouragement to all believers and especially to me. It speaks (almost shouts) of God’s Sovereignty…which really is something to shout about! He can take our meager offerings of prayer, Bible reading, evangelism and turn them into treasures fit for Eternity. My sister & I are still here, both seeing more of our paths in the rear view mirror than ahead. My morning prayer to Him is to establish my steps & to teach me to number my days that I may present to Him a heart of wisdom. Thank you for using your God given gift of writing! In this case, I would say you have done it exceptionally well!
Praise the Lord! My father-in-law often says, “God can hit a wicked lick with a crooked stick.” Praise the Lord He uses the weak things to shame the strong. Thanks for reading!