Good vs. Great — The Toughest Battle

Business strategist and author Jim Collins wrote in his book Good to Great that “good is the enemy of great.” In short it means the majority settle for what’s good instead of striving for what’s great or what’s best. 

Instinctively we know that’s true because a lot of us have done some good things. But there’s an aching to do something great. 

Yet here many of us sit, reading the blogs of those who’ve done great things, scrolling through tweets of those who’ve done great things, listening to their podcasts, and fantasizing away most days–about doing great things, of course. 

John Piper is one of the guys in the world I admire. Some theological differences aside, I can’t discount his contribution to the world of pastoral ministry and pastoral training. Beyond that, he is a man of simple means and steadfast single-mindedness. This is what pastor John wrote about the good and great tension:

            “The people that make a durable difference in the world are not the people who have mastered many things, but who have been mastered by one great thing.” 

Not surprisingly, that quote comes from Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life. Don’t waste your life with a bunch of goods and okays and acceptables. The point is not to say that you can only do one thing your whole life or have a sole interest like Dr. Frankenstein.

Rather, the point is to say, if you are mastered by an unending devotion to carry out God’s will no matter the kickback or obstacles, then you’ll make a durable difference in the world. That doesn’t mean you’ll be invited to speak at a conference or get a book deal (it’s possible), but it does mean you will influence and inspire those in your circles of influence. 

And what that person who inspires you has done for you, you may well do for others. It could be for co-workers, for your children, grandchildren, church members, who knows…

But be mastered by the most important thing, by a sensitivity and responsiveness to the Holy Spirit’s leading. That will serve you and God’s kingdom no matter the endeavor you choose. Nothing will count more in the end beyond the blood of Jesus than whether the Lord is able to say to you, “I spoke. You obeyed. Well done.” 

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