83 thoughts on “Good vs. The Best”

    1. If you’re constantly fretting over figuring out “God’s best” or “God’s perfect will” for your life, you’ll miss out on the joy you could find in the good things hidden in everyday moments.

      1. See – this quote, to me, reads the opposite way. I’ve always heard the saying “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Which is a saying I like. Don’t be so wrapped up in getting something exactly right that you miss out on getting it the best you can.

        But the way this is worded – awkwardly, of course – about good being the enemy of the best, sounds as if it’s angling for the opposite meaning. Don’t just settle for what’s good – go for the best! But that seems undercut by the “mundane moments” mumbo jumbo at the bottom, which seems to be about appreciating what’s good, not worrying about what’s perfect.

        Oh, well. I’m sticking with Uncle Grandpa here: “If every porkchop were perfect, there wouldn’t be any hot dogs.”

    2. How many of us have been so terrified of missing “God’s Will” and being consigned to “God’s Second Best” that we miss all the good things that He does for us every day….???. It took me many years to realise the Christian life is NOT a Tightrope Walk.

      1. Amen! For some time fundamentalism has had this “You want to be in the Center of God’s Will” kind of teaching. I haven’t heard it much lately, but I think it pops up when kids are considering college, and when they go to camp. The leaders hint at their parents with a subtle “see what happens when you aren’t in the center of God’s will?” and feed on the kid’s rebellious instincts to move them into compliance with IFBdom.

        When I was at BJU there was quite a discussion on it. A debate was going on about Jay Adam’s {??) book which seemed to say that there was no “center” of God’s Will (please note, I am remembering from, ah, 30 years ago).

        One theme at BJU was that the good was the enemy of the best. If you “settle” for something, you might miss out on something better. While that is true, the inverse is true as well. If you never settle for something, always wanting “the best,” you might miss out on everything! In that case, the best is the enemy of the good.

        1. I think that was Gary Friesen’s book, Decision Making and the Will of God. We had a decision of that while I was on choir tour at Maranatha about 30 years. I read the book several years later and thought it was a pretty good book, though with me coming from a fundy background, it really played with my brain, which wasn’t a difficult thing to do!

        2. Thanks, Mbu Grad. You are right. Jay Adams wrote “Competent to Counsel.” I wonder why his name stuck with me?

          But yes, Gary Friesen wrote Decision Making and the Will of God. It messed with my head, too. I remember that the University did not ban the book, but put out statements disagreeing with the book’s premise.

          Another person evidently has memories close to mine! http://formerfundy.blogspot.com/2010/01/are-evangelicals-open-minded.html

          I was not really ready for the full thrust of Friesen’s message, that God did not have a “perfect will” for my life. But it did make an impact.

          I think it significant that in so many ways fundamentalism tries to remove the concept of choice from people. They discourage free thought independent of the MoG’s all-wise, Connected, and future-seeing godly “counsel.” They discourage individual responsibility (even while they tell everyone that they encourage it!).

    3. “Good. Better. Best.
      Never let it rest.
      Until the good is better and the better is best.”

      Also, note the fundy song. “Give of your Best to the Master”

      In my fundy days, I was taught that only your best counted for God. E.g. good had no value. It was all about standards and only the best (gold) would remain on judgement day. The pursuit of perfection at the expense of ‘good’ eliminates the joy of the mundane. The acceptance of the average life. In a fundy world where only the Moses, David, Paul and Peter are best, the widow does not have a chance when she gives her coin.

      1. “The pursuit of perfection at the expense of ‘good’ eliminates the joy of the mundane. The acceptance of the average life. In a fundy world where only the Moses, David, Paul and Peter are best, the widow does not have a chance when she gives her coin.”

        I love this. Thank you.

  1. I just live my life now, not worrying WHAT the hell God supposedly wants.

    If God even exists, I think he’s a big enough boy to be able to handle lil’ ‘o me, and my little life.

    Do we get angry at a particular cell in our body it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do? I don’t think God would, either.

    1. You have heard of cancer, right? Cells behaving badly (and notably refusing to grow up)?

      Other cells which don’t do what they’re supposed to are simply killed.

      You might want to find another analogy…

      1. I note that in a cancer the cells are very much alike, do not tolerate differences, do not integrate into the body to participate in its health and life, but grow rapidly to absorb resources the body needs for other productive purposes and inhibit normal functions. Their singular characteristic, though, is that they are all functionally identical. No differences are allowed.

        Fundamentalism is a cancer.

  2. Part of the joy in my faith journey is the way God works through the things I don’t understand. I do make decisions, but often without all the information I would like to make the “best” decision. Several years ago I needed a job (like, eating is important) due to an unexpected loss of the one I thought I would have until I retired. I applied everywhere I saw something that looked like it might be a possibility, all the while prayerfully asking God for wisdom. I came to one and thought “naw…I would never qualify to teach there!.” However, it was another possibility, so I sent the resume. I interviewed, demo-lessoned, and was hired in three days. I’m still here, loving every minute, and thankful that I let God decide on His best instead of trying to micro-manage every application I made. It was a joyful surprise!

  3. While I would be willing to consider that “good is an enemy of best”, I don’t know anyone who has claimed that ‘good’ is the ‘greatest enemy’ of ‘best’. I would think ‘worst’ is the greatest enemy of ‘best’.

    I can certainly see accepting something that is “good” and not trying one’s best being a potentially bad thing. Children are often exhorted “As long as you do your best, we’re proud of you”, but constraints of time often mandate that task 1 cannot be done “best” because task 2 also needs time, so the decision is made to make task 1 “good” and task 2 “good” instead of task 1 “best” and task 2 “failing”.

    But the trouble could be as described above, that people cannot determine what best is and do nothing for fear of achieving “good” instead of “best”.

    1. If you grow up in Fundystan, it’s all about doing God’s best, to the point that you can drive yourself mad trying to look for “best.” And, someone with bad intentions (think MOG or other church leadership), can hound you into God’s “best” based on what he/she thinks is “best” for you. I was told many years ago I would lose my faith if I went to a state university. I’m so glad that’s exactly what I did, instead of going to a non-accredited, I would currently be starving, Bible college.

    2. Then you have never meant Clarence Sexton, whose hallmark message is “Choosing the High Road,” which he defines not as choosing between good and bad, but between good and the best, and always choosing the best.

      This post is a message for dear ole Clarence.

  4. I think this is a huge problem in our culture at large, not just fundism (even though that is a HUGE case in point). We tell kids “you’re awesome, you have so much potential, you’ll change the world” in order to encourage them to dream and work for goals. However, we tell them so much to be amazing and shoot for the stars that when they end up regular people, with regular jobs, living a regular life, with regular life problems (which most people will) they either can’t be content or feel like they have failed.

    1. Yes! I have occasionally tried to voice my concern over this prevailing mindset by saying, “And what if God wants me to be a little below average? Would I be sinning by striving to be the best?”

      To which I usually get a blank stare. But as someone who is a little below avg. I am ok with that.

      1. Along those lines, I am bothered by the constant touting of leadership everywhere in our culture: leadership training seminars in the workplace and in schools. They tell everyone, “Be a leader!” which is impossible. To LEAD, you have to have someone FOLLOWING you.

        EVERYONE can’t be a leader. EVERYONE can’t be the best. EVERYONE can’t be above average.

        (Please excuse my caps.)

  5. Of course, motivation, the reason you’re doing anything, is also up there. If it’s not done solely and specifically for the glory of gid, then it doesn’t matter a tin nickel. And no, 110% is *not* enough.

  6. My take (Probably 100% wrong)

    I have noticed more often than not, Christians just like to make it harder on themselves. No taking the easy way. Especially IFB Christians. Taking the easy way is selling out. Becoming backslidden. Acting Worldly. Worse yet, accepting The Best, getting used to it, and demanding The Best, is a sure sign that you are a LIBERAL!!!!

    In the fundy world it is totally considered worldly to accept The Best and expect The Best, so everyone should just wallow in our mediocrity and consider it Good. Willful ignorance is much better. Anything better, or The Best, becomes sermon fodder and is beaten on ad nauseum from the pulpit. Amen?

  7. It is good to read SFL.
    It’s best to go soul-winning.
    If I spend all my time soul-winning I’d miss the priceless gifts carelessly hidden in a thousand mundane SFL comments.

  8. Fundy pastors get to decide what is best for the rest of us. I have heard statements similar to the following from youth pastors, college staff – especially at youth conferences and meetings.

    So you always wanted to go to med school?

    That would be a good thing, but is it God’s best for you? Could going to our unaccredited Bible college be God’s best for you? (putting doubt in the mind of the youth with previous plans)
    Certainly, you want to pray to discern God’s perfect plan for your life, so pray about going to our college.
    (preaches about sacrifices others have made to serve God and how servicing God with our lives is the best choice, etc.)

    Just another wicked tool of manipulation.

    1. Yup… those kind of arguments made me flee Fundystan for evangelicalism. I wanted to be a missionary, but a credible, well-educated one. I went to university, got my teaching credential/Spanish, and then did my theological training at a good, credentialed school. I did 15 years of missionary service, and still use everything I’ve learned, and am greatly blessed, participating in an ethnic church plant.

      My first Fundy church basically cut me off when they realized they couldn’t win me back, but it was a good decision for me not to follow their “best.”

      1. You made solid choices that served you very well over the years, even though the MOG thought you were choosing the world’s good over God’s best. These self-serving MOGs are not omniscient. They do not know what is truly best when it comes to such things.

        And IMHO an unaccredited “degree” is never best – Never. So many times a pastor has to work a secular job to support his family, so having a real, accredited degree is an asset.

        Honestly, these Fundy pastors and Fundy U staff act like high pressure, used car salesmen when it comes to bringing more students in to their unaccredited “college”. It is still all about the numbers.

  9. Gosh, golly, and gee whiz! The big 3 of Baptist blasphemy. Don’t they know “good” is also a form of the word “God”? Following their own logic, they’re looking for something better than God when good isn’t “good enough” to them. This would explain their moronic man made standards of righteousness. I believe the best is my personal good. The best choice is the good I desire to do.

  10. The other place the glaring disconnect between dealing with reality and trying for “the best” shows is seeing how the fundie approach to life has no backup plan, and breaks down completely if Plan A doesn’t work. This is easiest to see in their approaches to issues in the public eye:

    It’s best for people to work, so there’s no need for a social safety net for those who don’t have work.

    Abstinence only sex education, because we’re telling people about the best, and ignoring the consequences of when young people fail to live up to it.

    The best home is a two parent home with a mother and a father, so those are the only people who should be able to adopt and care for children, regardless of whether any other family model might be preferable to leaving children in group homes.

    1. The fundy approach is a real Ozzie and Harriet model. The fundies want all of us to fit into their 1950s model and it just doesn’t work in real life, does it?

      1. That’s prolly taking it too far. Some fundies are like that; many aren’t. And the “1950s model” does work in real life – at least it has in mine. And my wife and I are very, very far from fundystan!

    1. That reminds me of a joke. A german, a frenchman, and a pollock were captured by indians, who planned to skin them alive and make a canoe out of their hides. The german asks for a spoon, and chokes himself to death to avoid the suffering. The frenchman asks for a knife, and slits his throat to avoid the suffering. The pollock asks for a fork, and stabs himself all over while declaring “I hope your canoe sinks!”

        1. or the fillets of a flaky white fish often substituted for Cod in Friday Night Fish Fry at the VFW

  11. I’d always heard it as good life advice to “not make the good the enemy of the best”, until I went to PCC, and they take awful advice and try to make it Biblical wisdom. Only fundies can set people up to fail, criticize them for the failure and retain their “leadership”

    1. But even the exhortation “don’t make the good the enemy of the best” is radically different from the declarative “the good is the enemy of the best.” Although the former is awkward and probably not very well thought through, the latter is borderline criminally insane.

  12. BJ, Sr. “To do less the your best is a son!” How do I really know for sure when I’ve done my best and do I always have to beat myself up, thinking about it? Some BJ folks, put the sayings of BJ, Sr. almost on the same level as scripture.

    1. See, this training is what had me work myself into four different bouts of mono over the years. I’m slowly learning to accept my limits, but not without feeling vaguely guilty if I have to nap on a Saturday.

    2. Well, I guess you all know I meant to say, “To do less than your best is a sin.” Although, perhaps, doing less than your best to avoid temptation could produce a son (out of wedlock)!

    3. People do often accept the sayings of preachers/evangelists as if they are Scripture without truly evaluating them.

      I remember the old rhyme: “Good, better, best. Never let it rest ’til your good is better and your better best.” NEVER let it rest? Even God rested on the seventh day. There is certainly value in doing one’s best, but it can be taken to extremes.

      1. God rested on the 7th day after He saw that what He did was GOOD. So good, better, best is proven to be in opposition to the very nature of God. Are the fundies trying to improve on God? What are they going to do next? Will they have the new and improved Sermon on the Mount? Blessed are those who shine their shoes, shave and wear a tie to church. Blessed are those who use only the KJV, listen not to the jungle beat, and go soul winning every Saturday. Blessed are those who persecute others for righteousness’ sake….oh wait… never mind…..

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