The guiding principle for every home improvement project of Tim “The Toolman” Taylor from the TV show, “Home Improvement,” was, “More power!”
To him, bigger was always better, usually with comically disastrous results.
Many of us tend to agree with him, thinking that bigger is better – at home, at work and in our relationships.
So when we look to improve, our natural inclination is to aim for bigger. How can I grow my company? How can I make more money? How can I get that next promotion?
My relationship with my spouse would be better if we could just afford to go on that big vacation. My family would be so much happier together if we just had a bigger house.
We do the same thing at church. Ministers aim for bigger, too – bigger buildings, bigger budgets, bigger programs, more people.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be bigger, but “How can we get bigger?” isn’t usually the right question. The right question is, “How can we get better?”
How do we better use the worship hour to help our congregation become more fully formed followers of Christ?
How do we communicate the truth about who God is better – that is, more clearly and more effectively?
How do we better use discipleship groups and fellowship opportunities to help our members feel more connected to one another and to God?
How do we better use mission and service opportunities to share God’s love with our community?
How do we become better followers of Christ who are leading others to become better followers of Christ?
Those are hard questions, not because they’re hard to formulate and not even because they’re all that hard to answer.
They’re hard because the answers require us to do something most of us aren’t all that good at doing. They require us to change.
“Better” questions lead us to do things differently and to think about things differently. Sometimes they even lead us to admit that we’ve made some wrong decisions that it’s time to correct.
It’s easier to ask, “How can we get bigger?” than it is to ask, “How can we get better?”
But here’s the secret. Better can lead to bigger. If we get better at what we’re doing, there’s a good chance we’ll get bigger, too.
I want the congregation I pastor to get bigger. I want us to have a bigger footprint and a larger impact in our community. I pray for God to do big things through and for and with us every day.
But every time I ask God for bigger, this nagging voice in the back of my mind whispers, “How can you get better?”
This requires individuals to reflect on their own lives by asking questions such as, “How can you be a better member of your family, a better Christian for your church, a better employee at work or a better citizen in your community?”
For many of us, one way to get better is to slow down – to be willing to say “no” to some things so that we can more fully commit to other things.
For others, it might be a realignment of priorities. How can your family get more of you when you’re at your very best? Prioritize rest and exercise as well as quiet time with God.
Give everything you do the attention and energy it deserves. And if you can’t do those things now, figure out what you need to let go of to make it happen.
God wants each of us at our best. Our souls are after something more than bigger. And so is God.
As God shapes our individual and communal lives, it isn’t necessarily into something bigger, but it’s always into something better.
This requires that we ask ourselves each day, “What can I do today to more fully become the person God is creating me to be?” And then do it.
Matt Sapp is the pastor of Heritage Baptist Fellowship in Canton, Georgia. A version of this article first appeared on Heritage’s blog and is used with permission. You can follow him on Twitter @MattPSapp and Heritage @HeritageCanton.
Matt Sapp is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Newnan, Georgia.