Article From the Magazine:

Living the Great Eight

By David Jeremiah

“Good is the enemy of great.” Those are the words of Stanford-educated consultant, lecturer, and author Jim Collins. His six books on leadership and corporate growth have sold more than ten million copies around the world and have been translated into scores of languages.

Perhaps his most well-known book was published in 2001: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t. In this book, Collins and his researchers spent five years evaluating the performance of 1,435 companies to find the few that outperformed all the rest. That is, they were seeking to answer one critical question: “Can a good company become a great company—and, if so, how?” 

Their conclusion? “Greatness is not primarily a function of circumstance but largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.” In fact, Collins co-authored a subsequent book on that very theme: Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck—Why Some Thrive Despite Them All.

I confess I love Collins’ two ideas: “good to great” and “great by choice.” In fact, the idea of “choice” has roots that go deep into biblical soil. Remember Deuteronomy 30:19: “Choose life”? And Joshua 24:15: “Choose for yourselves this day, whom you will serve”?

Combining all of the above threads, in this issue of Turning Points I’m going to challenge you to choose to move your Christian life from good to great. (And challenge myself at the same time.)

Why do we need such a challenge? I’ll borrow Jim Collins’ words again: “Good is the enemy of great.” Let me put it this way: When I think of “good,” I think of average; it suggests doing just enough to get by. And by “getting by,” I mean becoming a Christian and inheriting God’s promise of eternal life. Yes, that’s where we start in the Christian life. We make a conscious choice to ask God for forgiveness and place our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. That’s a wise and excellent choice—but that represents only the beginning of the Christian life, not the end. To be a fruitful and flourishing Christian for the rest of our life, we need to keep making choices that help us to go deeper and further with God.

As Collins and his team found in their research, only a small number of companies will make the conscious decisions necessary to take them “from good to great.” The inertia of being good enough to get by—being average—is too great for many to overcome. And if we are not careful, the calendar can turn from year to year without us realizing that we are not making the kind of spiritual progress we should be.

So our challenge this month is to climb out of the rut, to jumpstart our growth engines, and to set our sights on moving from good to great in our walk with God. And just to forewarn you: This is a life-long challenge. There is no definition of “great” that tells us when we’ve arrived. Because God is always doing more and more for us, we want to incorporate that same perspective in our lives (Ephesians 3:20). We want to continually grow more effective, more faithful, and more fruitful for Him. But we have to make that choice!

So, where do we start? We can’t focus on all the ways in which we could become more like Christ. But we can look at eight areas of our walk with Him where we can make measurable progress in the days ahead. In fact, we’re calling them the “Great Eight”—fundamental areas of our spirituality that are the bedrocks of belief, the foundations for faithfulness, and the crossroads of our commitment.

Here are the “Great Eight” disciplines we’ll examine in this month’s magazine: discipleship, love, stewardship, service, holiness, trust, surrender, and boldness. You and I can both think of additional areas of the Christian life to add to this list. But trust me—these eight will keep our knees calloused and our hearts and hands occupied for months to come!

Consider the “Great Eight.” Make a mental list now of the ones in which you’d like to move from good to great for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom. And remember, there is no ceiling. If you’re already doing great in some areas, then set your sights on greater—from “good to great” to greater still!    

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This article was first published in Turning Points Magazine & Devotional.
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