“Perfect is the enemy of good enough.”
That’s the rumor, anyway. This old chestnut of a saying has been around a long time, and it’s supposed to be a warning about trying too hard to get everything just right and missing out on the joys of being content with good enough.
In my other line of work, I write software. I write code to manipulate data and present information to the users of the applications I build. Several tons of books have been written about how to improve the code I write. Everything from what to name my variables to how many characters to allow per line on the screen.
I try to write the best code I can in the time allotted, and sometimes, I try to go back and improve the code I’ve written to make it work better, be easier to read and understand, and follow the same style as the code other people have written around it. Sometimes, I even reformat the other people’s code because I’m convinced my style is better.
So, I’m very familiar with the idea that you can try too hard to write the perfect code and spend days improving one small part of the code when you could have been reasonably satisfied with your first hour’s efforts and used the remainder of your time and effort to build a working version of the entire project.
Or, in writing, I could spend hours trying to come up with the perfect metaphor, and finally, come up with something just slightly better than what I dreamed up in the first five minutes.
There’s something to be said for not stressing out trying to be perfect, to be sure, but sometimes I wonder if I might use that as an excuse for giving much less, caring much less than I could have.
To put in another way, sometimes I wonder if good enough is the enemy of perfect.
Look at the verses from Ephesians 5, again:
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
— Ephesians 5:15
Focus on verse 16.
making the most of every opportunity,
How much are we supposed to make of our opportunities? Out of how many?
It sure would be a lot easier if God told us:
make something decent of a reasonable number of opportunities,
But, He didn’t.
He tells us to make the MOST of EVERY opportunity.
Sounds to me like God is pretty serious about how we ought to live our lives. How would my day have been different, yesterday, if I had really looked at every decision, every contact with another person, every thought, word, or deed as an opportunity to accomplish more?
How would yours?
How different could today be, if we really viewed every opportunity as a challenge for God to do His best in and through us?
Now, I am not proposing we kill ourselves in attempt to be absolutely perfect, but I daresay both of us can probably think of more than a few times yesterday when we could, with even just a little more effort, made significantly more out of the opportunities God set before us…
…in the way we treated people,
…in the way we went about our work,
…in the way we managed our time,
…in the way we used our words,
…in the very thoughts we entertained.
Maybe you lived this day to the hilt, and can’t think of a single way any opportunity could have been maximized any more. If so, this post is not for you.
For the rest of us who are still reading… (you are still here, right?)
…I’m not saying all of this to make either of us feel guilty. Christ didn’t come to condemn the world, so He didn’t come to condemn you, and I certainly have no room to talk.
He did come to redeem the world, and to redeem you, however, and He means to redeem your time, too.
Don’t worry about yesterday; it’s over. Ask for these, instead: forgiveness for the times you settled for less than the best, vision to spot the opportunities ahead, courage and strength to make the most out of every one of them.