If you have ever been to an arcade to play Pac-Man or Galaga, then you know the feeling of motivation the leaderboard can give you after the game ends. Seeing your name sit in the top 10, this invisible force begins to pull on you saying, “play again, you can do better.” A few hours and a lot of tokens later, you walk away still not number 1 on the leaderboard, and now a nagging feeling of disappointment that in your attempt to do better, you still came up short.
People feel the “Do Better” force in many areas of their life. In school a student may feel the pressure of good grades needing to be great grades; a strong performance on the field needing to be stronger; or a good sales reports needing to be better at the end of the next month.
This mentality also shows up in our relationships. We tell ourselves we need to be a better spouse, a better parent, a better son, a better friend or a better neighbor.
While there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve your grades or job performance or strengthen the relationships you have with people, there are some ugly undercurrents that flow beneath a “Do Better” mentality that you should, at least, be aware of. Here are a couple:
-When “Do better” to “Be the best” becomes the source of your identity, value, and worth.
-When “Do better” to “Be the best” becomes a tool to live out of pride and show we are superior to others.
In both cases, “do better” erodes away at the very character we’re trying to build. Instead of feeling accomplished with the baby steps of improvement we’ve taken, we feel worse and defeated because we realize that there’s still so far to go.
This whisper of “Do Better” is not limited to just our human relationships. The impact this mentality can have on our relationship with God can also be devastating. If “Do better” is the driving force behind our faith:
-we feel squashed by God because we know we can never measure up.
-enjoying God becomes impossible because we are constantly wondering if He is frustrated with us because of our failures.
When “love the Lord your God” gets twisted into “do better,” the Christian life becomes an exhausting cycle of: fail, try harder, fail again. Try, fail again, try harder.
Understand this: Jesus is far better than a better version of you. Hebrews 3:1 tells us “Consider Jesus!” You could never do enough to earn God’s acceptance, but you are completely accepted because Jesus, our perfect Savior, never needs to “do better.” He is the author and perfecter of our faith.
The gospel is an invitation to stop trying to be better versions of ourselves and instead, trust Jesus to make us more like the best of the best, Himself.
Consider Jesus. Focus your attention, thoughts, ambitions, drive, and pursuit of excellence on Him, not in an attempt to be loved by God, but out of the joy of knowing you are already perfectly and fully loved by Him. Jesus is better.