I have often taught “The good can be the enemy of the best!” and I believe that is true. We can fill our lives with all sorts of ‘good’ things that we miss the ‘best’ or most important things. We can spend so much time climbing our own version of the ‘ladder to success’ that we don’t realize it is leaning against the wrong wall! Good can keep us from experiencing the best.
While admitting that this is true I also must concede it is also untrue! I was chatting with someone, recently, who had ceased being involved in a particular ministry. I had witnessed that this person had really enjoyed this service and I was surprised that he had stopped. As our conversation progressed he shared that he had seen so many people who were ‘better’ at it than he, that he decided to “leave the field” to others who did it better. We reminisced a bit about his times of service in this field and I noticed a joy in the memories and a melancholy at the same time. Because he could not be ‘the best’ he had decided to “leave the field” and in doing so he was the sadder.
I reminded him that God did not call us to be the best. He is aware of our makeup and limitations. He does call us “to follow him” faithfully. Success is never the measure of obedience and is often seems not to be even a consequence of obedience. Too many are frozen in inactivity because we do not feel we measure up to others, and we may not, but this is an inadequate excuse for abandoning the field. In his incarnation Jesus did not call ‘the best’ to follow him. He delights in calling the “foolish” to confound the wise.
I love the story of the “man born blind”. Without a day of theological training or even Sunday school, he is called to testify to the Pharisees. There is much he doesn’t know but he shares what he does “I was blind and now I see!” He probably wouldn’t get a great mark in a homiletics class; he seems not be a gifted orator, but he simply tells what he knows.
The best can be the enemy of the good you and I can do! Acts 10:39 tells us “Jesus went around doing good…” Our call to follow him means that we must also do good. There may be those with more gifts or more education who can do better but there is no excuse for us not to be doing good! Some may be professionals who are paid to do good but the vast majority of Christ’s followers are to be “good for nothing.”
My friend realized that he was letting feelings of inadequacy keep him from the service he enjoyed. His contribution is needed. Jesus’ followers, every one, are called to “go around doing good” This is how the Kingdom comes on Earth as it is in Heaven. This is the answer to our own prayers.
To paraphrase the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews “let us spur one another on to be good for nothing!”