A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a lady who reminded me of something I had said to her a few years ago, something which has been helpful to her in her life.
We had been discussing perfectionism and the reluctance to do things, lest they not be perfect or even very good. And I recalled something I had read: “Whatever is worth doing is worth doing poorly.” I don’t recall the source of that statement; it may have been G. K. Chesterton.
At first hearing, that may sound wrong. No, we should try to do things well, and maybe even strive for perfection! But if you stop and think about it, there is a certain logic to the statement. Try something, do something. It may not be perfect, we may make a mistake, but at least something gets done. Sometimes the perfect can be the enemy of the good.
I can use myself as an example. As a priest, I have preached many homilies in my life. I do not preach perfect homilies. I try to put some thoughts and images into words, and then let the Holy Spirit do with them whatever she wants. I’m sure sometimes I preach rather poorly, but at least something is said.
As I said, that statement has been helpful to at least one lady in her life. I’m sure I have said the same thing to others over the years.
Yes, we should try to do things well, as with the carpenter: measure twice, cut once. But we need not let fear of imperfection stop us from doing things. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth at least doing poorly!
-Fr. Tom Zelinski