This month I postponed the Miami Behold Your God campaign that was scheduled to begin in just a few weeks. It was a difficult decision and I want to explain it to you, because it involves a principle that goes beyond a single evangelistic campaign.
We have set standards for our evangelistic campaigns and I became convinced that we were not up to those standards for the Miami campaign at this time. Specifically, we had not recruited the volunteers we needed, and especially Jewish volunteers to maintain the integrity of a Jews for Jesus” campaign. So we rescheduled the Miami campaign to take place a year from now. I hope and expect that we will succeed next year where this year we have not.
Telling you about this decision is almost as difficult as making it. I have to admit, I am embarrassed. After all, we announced to you and to the whole world that we would be conducting this campaign this month. We sent letters. People contributed money. Jews for Jesus has won the trust and respect of our friends and supporters for doing what we say we will do. I don’t want to lose that trust and respect. So I am embarrassed.
More than that, I hate disappointing the many who were committed to working on this campaign. The volunteers that we did have lined up were terrific. Some had already raised support from friends and home congregations. Others arranged time off from work in order to be a part of the campaign. A wonderful church agreed to give us full use of their facilities for the entire campaign. It’s difficult to tell each one that it is not to be, not now. I’m grateful and relieved that most have been very gracious despite the disruption to their plans.
Most of all, I am sorry that many lost souls in Miami won’t be seeing Jews for Jesus tracts, billboards or bus shelter posters in the coming weeks, telling them God is waiting and wanting to hear from them. Of course, God is sovereign and we trust Him in this and everything else.
Still, the easiest thing would have been to go ahead with the campaign as scheduled. It wouldn’t have been up to our standards, but in the end, who would have known? Would you? I’m not convinced that others would know the difference, but I would and our Jews for Jesus missionaries would. What is more important, God always knows. He deserves our very best.
It is always tempting and often less embarrassing to be satisfied with less — to cut corners to get things done and checked off the “to do” list. However, I can’t allow myself or Jews for Jesus to decide things that way.
The third of nine core values we hold to in this ministry is “a commitment to strive for excellence in all we do.” Often “strive” is the operative word. Striving for excellence does not mean we will always achieve it. No one is excellent all the time, except for our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). But do we have the integrity to acknowledge our failure to achieve excellence when that failure stares us in the face?
Here is the principle behind the postponement of the Miami campaign: IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO GENUINELY STRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE IF WE AREN’T WILLING TO RECOGNIZE WHEN WE FAIL TO REACH IT. Standards devolve if we redefine our terms so that no matter what we do, it’s deemed excellent.
Most ministries and missions are tempted to communicate “evangelistically” about accomplishments — that is, to exaggerate so that everything sounds like good news, everything comes across like a victory. In fact, it’s a human temptation that most of us face — the temptation to care more about appearances than reality, to want to convince ourselves and others that we are better than we really are.
If we refuse to acknowledge mistakes and failures, we miss out on much of God’s blessing. He desires to shape and mold our character and He often uses our mistakes to do so. The depth, power and passion of many of David’s psalms grew out of his admission of stunning failures. The Apostle Peter denied Jesus three times. Yet the Lord chose Peter to preach that historic sermon on the day of Pentecost ( Acts 2.). The riches of wisdom found in the epistles of Peter no doubt sprung from the grace and forgiveness he received from Christ following his odious betrayal.
These Bible heroes are examples of how God transforms great weakness into greater glory for Himself. I think God gives us such examples, in part to inspire us to be honest with ourselves and one another about some of our own failures. The best lessons I have learned have come through my failures. Being honest about our mistakes and failures can be educational and in the end, quite liberating.
Maybe you have faced similar struggles in admitting failure. What better time than the beginning of this new year for all of us to think about standards — and be able to face areas where we struggle and sometimes fail to measure up to our own commitments?
As far as the Miami campaign is concerned, I believe that canceling it now is the necessary choice if we are to upholding our standards. I think it will strengthen the effort we are planning a year from now. I am hopeful that our candor with you will not forfeit your confidence, but that perhaps it will even strengthen your trust. Certainly it will help you know how better to pray for us, for the Miami Behold Your God campaign and all of the other campaigns that are to come. Thanks for caring and for upholding us in our commitment to excellence in all we do. To God be the glory.