Mumbling in Ministry

The other day my son sent me a video of my granddaughter mumbling as she was playing house. It was so cute to hear her babbling sounds she thought made sense (some are starting to!). Apparently she isn’t waiting for a class in English. She has no manual. No tutor. Instead she is mumbling her way to success. She just keeps trying. She is learning by doing.


What’s my point? As pastor and leaders we are far too cautious. We aren’t willing to just try something! We have lost the art of mumbling. We make excuses and delay doing anything. We want to study it more. Talk more. Have more meetings. We want everything “perfect” before we try.

The Bible says, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” Eccl. 11:4 (TLB). Don’t wait around. Mumble! Try something, even if you don’t fully understand it or have mastery over it. Just do it and learn through it.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T.S. Eliot

Here are three questions I ask myself as I “mumble” in ministry:

  1. Does it stretch me? Leadership is about moving out of our comfort zone. Why not do something that you’ve never done before? Calvin Miller says, “Blah is composed of only two ingredients: the desire to play it safe and sameness.” When you think about it, we never have all the answers before making decisions. So, take a risk on something and let it stretch you.
  2. What’s the worst thing that could happen? It may seem silly to catastrophize an outcome, but this helps me. Too often I take myself too seriously and don’t take God seriously enough. So if I can “live” with looking foolish and deal with the potential failure and fallout, why not go ahead with it? God is bigger than our fears and insecurities.
  3. Does it have a compelling purpose? I would never encourage someone to try something just to try it. We need to take risks on things bigger than ourselves! If it honors God and motivates others, why not try it? When we know the direction is right, we should be willing to try, even when we don’t have it all put together! A leader takes those kinds of risks when others make excuses.


The language we use is important. Give yourself permission to “float an idea”, “try this for a few months”, or “let’s experiment.” This may give you just the confidence you need to mumble in public!

“Practice responsible boldness. Prepare before you step into the scare. 70% ready is ready enough, unless it involves life or death.” – Dan Rockwell

Frankly, all healthy leaders are mildly unsure of themselves most of the time. But we must step out before others will follow. We don’t have all the answers and we don’t have to, but we should be willing to start “mumbling” our way forward.

So what are your risking? Is there language that you’ve found empowers you to take a risk? How can we encourage one another to be mumblers?

“It’s a lot easier (and less risky) to keep church people happy than it is to continue to reach out to people who are outside of the church. When was the last time your church risked something big for God?” – Tony Morgan

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Bill Vermillion says:

    Amen and keep mumbling.:) Chambers talks about being nimble and robust as we live out our faith. After all it is Christ living in us and He empowers us to do more than we could ever ask or think through His Spirit which is at work in us! hallelujah!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Folmer says:

    Or, as another great man once said: “Faith is getting so far out on a limb only God can get you back!” I like it…keeps you living on the edge.

    Liked by 1 person

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