I have been influenced heavily by Collins book, Good to Great. Honestly, why would I settle with being or doing something good, when I could be or do something great?
This thinking has already trickled down to my daughter, now in first grade, who tells me that she has asked her teacher how she can get “E for Excellent” on her report card and not just “G for Good.”
With thinking like this, it is no wonder that when some of us approach this Fruit of the Spirit, we simply glaze over the word “goodness,” hardly giving it a second thought—as though it is lacking some punch. It seems more challenging and inspiring to strive towards being loving, peace-filled, patient, faithful, self controlled or gentle.
But who wants to pursue goodness? It seems like such a dull word, as though we are called to strive to be adequate or safe. But in looking more deeply into the context of goodness as described in Scripture, it is not in reference to a grade, an achievement or the quality of a product, but instead, towards morality and guiding means of our actions.
In our current culture, morality so often has become individually defined. As I spend more time researching, listening and engaging with the next generation, it’s as though they are facing their world without a moral compass—a world in which they themselves decide what is right or wrong.
I spent a weekend in January with 500 junior highs at Avalanche; in the coming weekends I will gather with almost 800 senior high students. In the weeks following, I will be with another 600 youth at Today’s Teens Conference and look forward to a summer at Kwasind with hundreds of the next generation. These hundreds and hundreds of young people—those in your church and your community—are looking to the people of God to be genuine, honest, real, authentic and through that approach, to be a living demonstration of God’s goodness.
When they see you or me, will they see someone pursuing their own gains and determining their own morality, or, will they see someone submitted joyfully to the will of the Father and humbly walking in a way that reflects the goodness of the Lord?
You see, when we seek goodness, it isn’t a focus on ourselves, but an acknowledgement of a different centre, a different authority—a focus rooted in the very character, person, and message of Jesus.
Goodness, then, is that culmination of our actions, attitudes, behaviours and our responses to our daily interactions.
Will we see that goodness is being humble enough to allow the ways of Jesus to be our moral compass and passionate enough to pursue godly endeavours over selfish gains? Will we be wise enough to turn away from evil, courageous enough to follow selflessly in the ways of the Lord? Will we be adventurous enough to experience the power of standing for what is good to break the strong holds of that which is evil?
Let us pursue great opportunities, strive for excellence and enjoy that which is wonderful. And, let us never underestimate, minimize or miss the incredible power and life changing reality of pursing true goodness in our journey towards being fully committed followers of Jesus.
Rev. Matt Wilkinson
Director of Next Generation Ministries, CBOQ