When "Good Enough" ... Isn't
Peter BeckPeter serves as assistant professor of religion at Charleston Southern University where he teaches church history and theology. While serving as senior pastor in Louisville, Ky., he completed his PhD in historic theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His dissertation, The Voice of Faith: Jonathan Edwards's Theology of Prayer, is soon to be published. He, his wife Melanie, and their two kids, Alex (12) and Karis (7), live near Charleston, SC. Peter's goal for his teaching and writing ministries is "love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Tim 1:5).
- 2009 Feb 16
When I worked in advertising it used to drive me nuts when, after hours of labor and countless discussions, someone would, for whatever reason, throw in the towel and declare the project “good enough.”
“Good enough” is a phrase we hear enough. Our kids proclaim it proudly when their homework is done. My students shout it from dorm tops when they’re done with the first and only draft of a paper. ”GOOD ENOUGH!”
Most people who evaluate their efforts, their product, their whatever as good enough know that it’s not. They’re just ready to move on, to do something else. It may be done but done is no guarantee of quality.
Good enough is like close enough, it’s an approximation, a close but no cigar. As we all know, “close” only counts in hand grenades and nuclear weapons. As Chrisitans we need to see “good enough” in the same critical light. Good enough … isn’t.
Christians ought to be striving for excellence. Excellence and its pursuit ought to mark our every effort. Will we always achieve it? Of course not. But if excellence is never our goal, we’ll rarely achieve it. We’ll settle for good enough for so long that it really does become good enough, subpar becomes acceptable, good but not great our standard. But, that’s not what God is looking for from his people.
God expects excellence from his people in morality. ”Be holy,” we’re told, “because the Lord is holy.” He is excellent in righteousness and that is to be our standard. True, we will never in this lifetime achieve that heavenly goal but that doesn’t negate the fact that it is still the goal nonetheless. Remember, God doesn’t grade on a curve.
Should we be approaching any other area of our lives with anything but the highest expectation? Would my wife find it acceptable if I was seeking to be an “okay” husband? Would I keep my job for very long if I were to make inferior work my goal? No. And, truth be told, we don’t expect mediocrity from those around us either.
So what is good enough? We can’t all achieve perfection in every area of life. Some of us really are just B or C students. What’s good enough for those folks? The biblical goal, the gold standard by which we are to measure our efforts, is not the end product but the effort that went into it. As Paul told the Corinthians, “do all things for the glory of God.”When God’s glory becomes our primary motivation and the grading scale with which we live, “good enough” is no longer good enough. Our efforts may fall short of perfection but excellence is our desire. While we may get lower grades or smaller raises than others, if we give it our best effort, God’s praise is our reward.