The Tyranny of ‘Best’

Short Reads

“The enemy of the best is the good.”

This phrase is often used to describe the problem of settling for something ‘good’ when the ‘best’ option is available. The thinking goes: people settle for something that is good enough instead of working towards the best thing.

I have been a slave to this type of thinking, but recently I’ve come to realize how misplaced and idolatrous it can be.

There is a common myth in American culture that the best is best. We study Amazon reviews before buying something, just to make sure we are getting the best shower mat or blender or alarm clock or pair of pants. We compare cars before buying to make sure we are getting the best deal with the best options.

Please don’t misunderstand, this can be a good thing, but we have carried this line of thinking into all aspects of life.

We don’t settle on our weekend plans with one friend just in case they are not the best plans we’re presented with. We keep the door open for a different friend to present a different, better plan.

We don’t settle on the one person to marry because we are not sure that they are the best person for us.

We get antsy after a few months in a job because we are worried that it might not be the best job for us.

This is true in the Church as well. Missiologist Michael Frost said, “No one is more transient than American pastors, like rocks with no moss.”

The problem with all of this is that it forces us to spend a bulk of our time holding our breath, waiting for the best thing to arrive. Our lives pass us by while we impatiently wait for the next best thing.

That’s why I reverse that common phrase:

The enemy of the good is the best.

The goal of life is not the best. The goal of life is enough.

God promises enough – our daily bread. Jesus calls us to ‘perfection’ which can be understood as completion.

We are called to wholeness; not to be the ‘best’ but to be the person that God has called us to be.

I find myself drawn to thinking about the ‘next’ thing. What job is next? Where will we move next? What is the next step?

Perhaps God is calling me to be where my feet are – to be here.

Perhaps the next step is to do my work today; to do the next, right thing and trust God.

The enemy of a good life is the illusion that there is a “best life” just waiting down the road.