There’s this thing I could do. It would be a good thing. It’s the kind of thing that might help people, though the doing of it would cost me something. Could cost me a lot. Because I can do it, does that mean I should?
How do you choose between good and better?
I had this idea for a book. It’s a good book idea. Agents thought it was a great book idea (and some offered to dedicate extra resources to make it happen). One published author gave me their template for a book proposal after they heard the idea. Another author offered to give the proposal to their own agent.
So – does that mean I should write that book?
I puzzled through this for a very long time. Did having the skills and connections to do a good thing mean that I had to do the good thing?
Now, I’m not talking about saving a child from abuse or a puppy from a well. There will always be situations where you being there and being able to help means you need to step up. But, I would say — in my own experience — those experiences are rather rare.
Neither am I talking about the mundane things in life that someone has to do like laundry, dishes, or changing diapers. There are a lot of things I do because I’m there and it needs doing.
I’m talking about things you don’t have to do, but you’re able to. Good things. When all things are equal, does being able to do a thing mean you are called to do a thing?
Because everything costs something. It may be just a few minutes of your time or it could consume years. Good things that require our time and energy mean our families also pay a cost. Is the good thing worth it? At what point does the cost become irrelevant to the potential good you could do?
Being able to do a thing, if you’ve counted the cost, may be a good thing to do. But doing that good thing may not be the best thing. There may be something better.
- Just because you have two arms and experience with babies, doesn’t mean you have to serve in the nursery at church. Serving in nursery is a good thing, but if you’re called to hospitality maybe making coffee and serving cookies is the better thing.
- Because you’re a stay-at-home mom doesn’t mean you have to volunteer for every committee at church or coordinate the annual school bake sale. Those are good things, but if you feel you’re called to be at home with your kids – then make that your priority. That’s the better thing. While doing the better thing you may have time here and there for the good thing, but don’t let the good thing take over.
Your good and better will look different than mine, than your friend’s or your mother’s. That’s what makes it so hard. No one can tell you what the good or better thing is for you! But some people will try and tell you what your good and better things are. Don’t let obligation, tradition, or guilt dictate what your good and better things are.
I wrestled with this book idea for several months (like…24 months). Finally I realized that I didn’t really want to do that book idea. I am willing, able, and qualified (uniquely qualified even), but I don’t have to do it right now. I don’t have to do it at all. Writing that book would be a good thing. Writing the book that’s been on my heart for the last ten years is the better thing right now (I’m launching it here on the blog in September).
And that revelation was surprisingly freeing!
Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed and burdened by the good. Choose the better. What is it you’re supposed to do in this season of life — right now? What’s your calling — in this season? Go and do that. That’s the better thing. Don’t let the good distract you from the better. Don’t let doing good steal all your time and attention away from the better thing, whatever that might be.
How do you decide which is the good and better choice for you?