So why do I tell you that amusing little anecdote? Well, it will take one more short story to bridge the gap. You see, I had a phone conversation with a friend last week who explained that he had played in a band, written nearly 30 songs, but never played a concert or recorded an album. They just never felt like they were ready.
Okay, now I am ready to make my point. The number of people who are interested in learning how to defend the Christian faith is unfortunately small. We often have to make the case for Christian case making. Apologetics books do not typically make the best seller list. Now, the numbers that I am about to start throwing around are totally made up. But they serve to make my point. Let's just use round numbers and say that there were 100 people learning how to defend the faith. I doubt that less than 50 of them would ever say anything publicly about it. I would wager that of the 50 that did, about 30 of them would only talk about it in Christian company. Of the remaining 20, I figure that probably no more than 10 of them would get involved in discussions related to defending the faith, in public, in mixed company, on a regular basis. Why? Because 90 out of 100 never feel like they are ready. Now, do not misunderstand me; people should be as prepared as possible to engage in whatever they do, whether sharing their faith or defending it. Even so, you cannot wait to go platinum before you record your first album. You cannot wait until you are the best live band ever before you play your first concert. You have to be willing to get out there, make mistakes, humbly accept correction from those who are older and wiser, and keep going. THAT is how you get to be the best at something. You cannot wait until you have all the answers before you engage your skeptical friends--because if you do, you never will. You cannot wait until you are the best public speaker on the planet before you lead your first group.
My generation, and even more so the next generation, seems to be irrationally afraid of failure and correction. It stems, at least in part, from a image-perfection and instant-gratification obsessed culture. We would just assume not do anything at all rather than do something where we might look stupid. We want success to fall into our laps. Otherwise, we are content to perpetually bewail our pitiful circumstances. It is incredibly self-centered when you think about it. It takes humility to learn from your mistakes. If you are reading this, and that describes you (like it describes me), here is the dirty little secret--in order to look good, you have to be willing to look stupid; in order to succeed, you have to be willing to fail. I am not about to give you a prosperity gospel pep-talk and say that you just have to get out there and God will bless you with instant success. No. He may bless you with the invaluable lessons that come from falling on your butt. Anyway... lest this get too far afield, I just want to encourage anyone who endeavors to defend the faith (or to do anything for that matter): humble yourself enough to throw your hat in the ring, make mistakes, learn from them, and keep going.