I have been listening to a lot of sports talk shows lately – when you give up politics and already know both songs they play on WAY-FM, you have to listen to something. Anyway, one of the catch phrases that I have heard on local and national shows is “He is what he is” or some variation of that. I have spent some time (maybe too much time, now that I think about it), and while it is a terribly simple saying, I think it has a great deal of truth and helps us better understand how church should work.

Basically, the saying “He is what he is” makes us accept that a person has certain qualities and characteristics, both good and bad, that you have to accept. They won’t change. They shouldn’t be expected to. If you have T.O. as your wide receiver, you want him for his big play ability, but you also have to accept that he is volatile and difficult. When he scores a big touchdown, everybody loves him, and that is why he was signed. But when he runs his mouth or behaves badly, everybody acts surprised.

This applies to many other situations as well. Take church, for example. GP hired me as their youth minister because of my skills and talents at group counseling and consensus building. So why would they be upset at my avoidance of preaching situations or poor accounting skills? If I could preach like Jeff Walling, I’d be hosting Winterfest. If I were good at accounting, I’d be working somewhere else making more money. And how many accountants do you know who can lead a successful game of spew after an all-night junior high lock-in, anyway? Zero, that’s how many.

So how does this help us survive church? Don’t I do the same thing? Don’t my expectations for others exceed what they are able to give? I expect the preacher to understand Hebrew and be an administrator. I expect the elders to excel at shepherding and at making difficult decisions. I expect the members of the congregation to be good followers and good leaders. In short, I expect to receive the benefits of everyone’s talents while avoiding the stress of dealing with their faults.

Why do I think that I deserve this? Am I better than Jesus? He hand-picked a group of 12 men to be His closest disciples. He had to know ahead of time their shortcomings. He had to know what about each person would be annoying or difficult. But He understood several things: first, there are no perfect people; second, only He can help them overcome their faults; and third, it is their collective talents and abilities that made them effective, while their failures would cause them to rely on God and one another.

I get so frustrated when I have to deal with people who are flawed, conveniently forgetting that I too am flawed and frustrate people (especially people who like neat offices and tidy record-keeping). So I need to accept that with their gifts and abilities come their flaws and struggles. My gifts help me to work with flawed people to make them better, and I have to remember that their gifts help me become better as well. Nobody is perfect, not even me.