Balancing Excellence and Grace

Monday night, I ventured out to a local church to enjoy the local fireworks from their lawn.  The church did a great job advertising for the event.  The parking lot was full when we arrived, and the traffic directors helped us find a parking spot quickly.  As we unloaded chairs from our cars, we were invited to enjoy free hot dogs, popcorn, and water from a table setup near the church building.  We found a place to put our chairs and blankets along with everyone else.  And we settled down in our spot as we patiently waited for the fireworks to commence.  Suddenly, we started to hear and see some amateur fireworks in the neighborhood next to the church.  Then off in the distance over the trees, we could see the tops of a professional fireworks display.  These were the fireworks we were waiting for only our view was mostly obstructed by the trees.

Honestly, I was initially disappointed.  My wife and kids were looking forward to the fireworks, and I was responsible for bringing them to a place that offered less than spectacular views of the show.  I was slightly embarrassed as many people who came to the church’s property were obviously upset.  I’m sure many of these people were unchurched, so I’m sure they weren’t left with the best impression.  I felt bad for the church who clearly had the best intentions in hosting this event.

It seems like a difficult balance – demanding excellence but allowing for grace.

I know that people like myself expect excellence, and churches have a high standard to maintain in today’s consumer driven culture.  However, I hope that people will see an opportunity for grace and realize that this church had the best intentions.  I hope that people will see a church that clearly has a gift for hospitality and a desire to connect with the community.  (And I’m sure this church learned a few valuable lessons along the way as well.)

When have your best intentions fallen short of excellence?  How have others shown you grace when you didn’t quite measure up to expectations?