Today I am teaching a Doctor of Ministry class at Hartford Seminary. I think I must be crazy. Actually, I think the folks who signed up to take my class are crazy. What on earth were they thinking paying good money to take a doctoral course from a preacher from South Georgia? That isn’t false humility. That is exactly what I feel. Don’t you? Please say yes!
Surely I’m not the only one who feels like they have gotten where they are in life by faking it at least half the time. I realize that I know some stuff, and I know I’ve accomplished some things. At least one-third of this, however, really has been luck, and one-third was just showing up or standing up when others didn’t. The other one-third MIGHT have been the stuff I knew or at least thought I did. Is that how life really works, or have I just been lucky to get away with it thus far?
That is what I thought for the first half of my career. As I was walking to the pulpit the first time that nearly 4,000 people showed up for Easter Sunday at the Cathedral of Hope, I thought, “This is where my luck is going to run out.” Then I thought, “This where the Holy Spirit is going to abandon me and say, ‘Hey big boy, let’s see what you’ve got on your own.'” I don’t get nervous preaching, no matter how big or small the crowd, but there are moments in life when I do get afraid that everyone will suddenly discover that I really don’t know what I’m talking about … because lots of times I don’t.
There are times I listen to what I’m saying or read what I’m writing and ask, “Do you really believe that?” The answer almost always is, “I think so,” or, “At the moment I do.” I’m just being honest. I hope you can be, too.
That is what faith really is. If you are CERTAIN, you are fooling yourself, but you ain’t fooling God. The Bible says, “Without FAITH it is impossible to please God.” It isn’t given to us to be CERTAIN. It is given to us to preach, and teach, and live by FAITH. That means we sometimes live out of a place of simply trusting and not knowing.
So, I guess I’ll keep showing up and standing up and “faking it,” trusting that the One who is really making it will keep showing up, too, and that will be enough. It has worked out pretty well so far.
Rev. Michael Piazza