Let's review this week, shall we?
On last Sunday, I sat down with all 8 of our confirmands to complete the yearly tradition of video interviews. A second camera crew was working on some interviews, which left me with an inferior microphone set up. No problem. I knew it was coming. I thought long and hard about how to adjust, made the adjustments needed, and knew I would need extra time in the studio to edit. Weeks before I sat down to interview, I knew what the problem was, knew what my solution would be, and blocked out extra editing time in my schedule. No problem.
Thursday, I sat in front of the editing computer for an blood-curling 3 hours. This project usually only takes an hour, maybe an hour and a half. But I sat there and agonized over the sound. Using the crummy mic I was left with meant I had to spend lots of time for each clip removing background noise, equalizing, adjusting vocal tones, making everything just right. But after three hours, I was ready. I watched the whole video through twice to make sure I hadn't missed anything, and exported it.
Yesterday, I came in at 6:30 in the morning to finish the import, move it to a laptop, and have it ready to show to the session and the families of the confirmands. The first laptop I picked to show the video wasn't up to par for showing a video that large, so I ran upstairs to get mine. This is why you check things ahead of time, right? To make sure there are contingency plans upon contingency plans. I switched out the laptops and watched the first interview. Everything was great. I shut things down and went to lead worship at the Bridge.
When the meeting began, it went as it always goes. Folks ate, met the new confirmands, were talking with each other. I nervously paced, excited for our students and hopeful that the session would see them the way I get to. I get 3 months with these wonderful students, the elders get an hour. I made a few announcements and hit play on the video. The first student's interview went really well. Then, for reasons I still haven't figured out, the audio for each student that followed went dead. The background music was there. The video was there. We could see them speaking, but no words came. It was horrifying. It was not entirely unlike that dream when you are standing naked in front of the class. Exposed. Hurt. Ashamed. I shut the video down and tried to apologize a few times while keeping the meeting going. It sucked. Luckily I work for a great pastor, who took to the mic and kept things going. But I sat in the corner stunned. I had failed.
The way I see it, there are three types of failure. The first is failure of preparation. This is when you don't put in the hours necessary to achieve your goals. If I want to lead a worship service, but never practice, I shouldn't be surprised if I sound terrible. The second is a failure of execution. Think Marc Andre Fleury from 2010-2013 in the playoffs. Some people call this the yips. You put in your hours, you do your diligence, but still you fall short when it comes time to putting it into practice. What happened to me yesterday at the lunch was the third kind of failure. Pure. Dumb. Luck. I did everything I needed to. I spent the hours ahead of time. I was prepared. There's not a whole lot yips can do to you either when your job is simply to push play in the heat of the moment. Something in the file transfer went awry on the video. There was nothing I could do.
The first two kinds of failure are unacceptable. Failure to prepare and failure to trust in that preparation at game time aren't really what excellence are about. The third type of failure, that's just pure annoying. You can huff, puff, steam, and stew, but at the end of the day there's nothing that can change it. It just bites.
I'm sure I'll get over things shortly. Time heals all wounds. But the first moral of the story is to make sure you have the first two types of failure covered. Who knows when the third type might strike, and dealing with all three is a nightmare most can't come back from.
The second moral of the story is more important than the first. Failures are covered. For as much as what went down yesterday will bug me for a few days or even weeks, I know that I am not what I do. I am as valuable as the one who loves me says I am. He covers failures better than anyone. This is why there is grace. This is why there is forgiveness. This is why there is Christ. So whatever type of failure we struggle with each day, let us remember that the blood of Christ covers us, redeems us, and sets us free. Let us dust ourselves off and find new roads to follow, and new failures to overcome.