General George Patton used to say, “A good plan executed today is much better than a perfect plan carried out next week.” I once quoted that in a sermon. The text was the one we read on the first Sunday every Lent. I talked about how Jesus struggled in the wilderness trying to figure out how he should live and what he should do with his life. Then I pointed out that I seriously doubted he had it fully resolved, but, after 40 days in the wilderness, he started his ministry anyway.
After church someone said to me, “That Patton quote is fine, unless you are a doctor. Then you want them to do more than good; you want them to be perfect.” I nodded my head, laughed, and agreed that doctors might be one of the exceptions, but, later in the afternoon, I realized that I disagreed with my sermon critic. Yes, I want the doctor to get her treatment of me right but, if my life was in danger, I’d certainly choose keeping me from dying over stitching me up with perfectly straight stitches.
I’m not suggesting we should be sloppy or imprecise on purpose. The Bible says that whatever our hand finds to do we should do it as if we are doing it for God, but I have known far too many people who do nothing because they are not ready to do it perfectly. Something done well is infinitely better than nothing done perfectly. All of us have perfect things we have never done: perfect books that we never wrote, songs we never sang, art we never created. Waiting until we can do it perfectly is the trap of the procrastinator.
Jesus came to the end of his life, and it began to look like it was going to be a painful end. I am sure it was not what he had planned, and it certainly wasn’t what he wanted. He asked that “this cup pass from” him, but it didn’t. So, he did what he had to do.
Rev. Michael Piazza