If you’re ever at our house for more than say, 13 seconds, you’ll inevitably notice a deep-throated growl emanating from behind a couch or closed closet door. You’d best be ready, ‘cuz there’s a T-rex coming to get you! For those not in the know, this is the standard way a game of “Dinosaurs” begins. One of the boys gets to be the running, jumping meat-eater, dad the slow, fat plant-eater (Tip #314 on how to relax and play with your kids simultaneously!), and the battle doesn’t end until one of them has lost all of his hearts and explodes…or when the carnivore inadvertently bestows an actual injury upon the hapless herbivore.
Sounds pretty awesome, right? Well it IS…for about the first 57 rounds. Then any constructive elements (e.g. creating father-son memories, education about extinct lizards, and learning how to protect your spleen) lose traction, and you just do it because it’s become part of your life. What was good needs to be better.
Enter “Dragon Dinosaurs”! Not only do you get to choose what color you are now, your hue magically confers upon you a varying dragon power of your choice. Naturally, the most popular are breathing lava and poison claws, although poison fire is the most original to date. Now even the runt of the large plant-eater litter has a fighting chance! The fun, the education (reading and counting dragon powers are totally legit), and new self-defense mechanisms gained are now almost limitless!
There are good things in all of our lives that need upgrades. Much of the time, for decent folk like you and me, it’s not bad or evil activities that cause the problems, overfill our schedules, or keep us from reaching our potential. It’s becoming so content with the good ones that we don’t realize we’re sacrificing the best ones. And by good I mean morally upright activities that confer some benefit and are generally recognized as positive by society. Things that aren’t necessarily bad at all, like a busy school sports/performing arts schedule, a prolific craft hobby, running another half marathon, or swapping fun ideas or pics online.
So how is good well, not so good? The smaller problem is the good in these events is typically more a benefit to oneself than another truly in need (landing a PR/role/scholarship, finishing a skillful project, trying to be super healthy, or getting internet likes or laughs). The bigger problem is these more comfortable and popular activities—my Newsfeed is filled with them—take so much time and makes us feel just good enough that we don’t consider it possible or necessary to do more difficult and uncommon—but far, far more beneficial—deeds that meet the most needs in the greatest ways. If we stop to honestly look at our lives, we often succeed at shunning the bad but then do the easy kinds of good to feel OK about not doing the harder kinds of great (Click to tweet).
But you weren’t created for good; you were created for great! You weren’t created for accolades, accomplishments, white oval bumper stickers, or facebook shares (remember, I agree these can be good things!). You were created to build relationships and restoration among those who need it most, just as your Creator did during his time here on earth! So how do you turn the good into great? Here are some easy and exciting ways…
Pick Purpose before Possessions, Pastimes, and Popularity
Never forget why you’re here. God gave you a very specific purpose: “to seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him” (Acts 17:26-27). Then he himself gave you a really tangible way to discover and know him: Jesus and the perfect role model he is to us. We initially find God by finding Jesus, but we can only keep fulfilling our purpose—reaching out for and finding God—by valuing and emulating Jesus (John 10:27-28). Our purpose is to come so close to God that our lives look like Jesus’. Jesus structured every aspect of his life around teaching about God, spreading the gospel, healing the sick, and showing compassion to the helpless.
This same purpose must either transcend or transform our stuff, our hobbies, and our reputation too. I know a lot of rich, skilled, and popular people, but the most fulfilled and joyful ones are those whose possessions, pastimes, and popularity are primarily (not rarely or when it’s convenient) means to accomplish their purpose, not ends without purpose.
Brainstorm Better into Best
Right now, list the good activities in your life, and then how they could be made better. Can you turn a gift-giving event (graduation/shower/holiday) or a skill or hobby into a fundraiser (fix/make/perform something for sponsors if they donate $_ to charity)? Can you increase the emphasis on what is best about an activity over what is good (freeing up hours of time by exercising only enough to be healthy, not to add another race to the record or to maintain your 6-pack)? Can you maximize the relationships in an activity (doing it with folks who don’t know Jesus or who have more significant needs than your friends)? In whatever way is most applicable, resolve to make your goods into greats!
But perhaps ideas aren’t coming fast. This may mean that your goods aren’t easily transformed into bests, and it might be time to sacrifice the good for the best rather than vice versa. Before you decide what you’ll have to lose though, focus on what you have to gain. List some best activities to get you excited enough to reduce some of the good ones.
Need some examples? Setting aside a few dollars a day for charities highly-rated for strategically addressing the hungry, abused, and neglected is better than sugar-sweet coffee. Educating yourself and then others about the average person’s role in combating homelessness, mental illness, and sex-trafficking should be more exciting than another sport, performance, or TV series. An hour a week mentoring a teen can change the trajectory of a whole life from destructive to productive, which is way more fulfilling than surfing social media (where I most commonly choose good over best!). Avoid sacrificing the best for the good (Click to tweet). Fulfilling your purpose and bringing life and hope to others is always better than…anything!
Make a Match
When you start turning your goods into greats, people will notice and even come alongside you. But right now you’re probably feeling how hard it can be, and they will too. Let’s offer some encouragement to help them fulfill their purpose as well as yours! Let’s make a match. Whenever they contribute to the best you’re directing them toward, contribute something of your own. Tell them you’ll match their gift if they’re offering money. Or if you can’t, perform an act of service for each donation. You wouldn’t believe how many people are—but will only be—mobilized toward best causes if you are giving something too. This has worked unbelievably well in my own pursuit of the best, so let it work for you! And if what you’re contributing advances the same or another best cause, it’s a 2-for-1 special! Making a match multiplies a best and the people participating in it, so get creative and enjoy the results!
Obviously, there are more ways to turn good into great, but let the above at least get you started and hopefully stoked! Enjoy your goods where they don’t drown out or distract you from the bests (you’re welcome any time for a round of Dragon Dinosaurs!). But never let them keep you from the far greater enjoyment of fulfilling your purpose. The relationships and restoration a life like Jesus’ brings is the best, and that’s what you were created for.