The Curse of Good

“Good is the enemy of great!”

This is the first line of Collins 2001 work Good to Great.”  Collins showed that there is a great chasm between good companies and great companies.  But the gap is about a mindset and not resources.  The companies that have the most resources, those with the most talented personnel, those with the most going for it, were not the ones that achieved greatness.

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Many good companies were derailed by their satisfaction with good.  What about your labor in Christian education–are you striving for excellence or have you become satisfied with good?  Has good become the obstacle that is keeping you from great?

We find multiple opportunities to push our students to greatness–

In athletics, striving for excellence is lauded; spiritually, we sing “Give of your best to the Master;” academically, we reward achievement.

But when it comes to measuring the goodness or greatness of our Christian school, of classroom instruction within a school, of the Christian education movement itself–perhaps the standard has not always been held high.  I have heard success lauded with statements like–

•  “__ is the best second grade teacher that our school has ever had; she finishes all of her textbooks every year.”

•  “The academic program of our school is good; our SAT10 scores are always 35 percentile better than the national average.”

•  “Our school’s program requires that graduates meet all state requirement for graduation plus Bible; parents know that this is quality program.”

•  “Our students have the opportunity to take AP courses as well as dual credit courses with a local college.”

•  “All of our teachers are certified, many with years of experience in public education, and now serve in our school.”

And the list goes on and on…

But please understand that while there is nothing inherently wrong with any of the above statements, none of the achievements stated indicate excellence.  One cannot read any of the statements and know that a school has passed from good to great.

In A Scent of Water, when listing ten reality statements of the present state of Christian education, the authors gave Reality #7 as “the movement lacks a strong commitment to excellence in education.”

While Scripture continually admonishes the Christian to excel and to seek to be “perfect” (complete, mature), the Christian education movement is still rife with those that are satisfied with good.

Collins correctly calls realities the “brutal facts.”  He states that successful companies, those that would surpass good and seek to achieve great must hit the realities of their situation head on.”

So, what are the brutal facts–the realities–about your school, about your teaching?  In order to get beyond good and pursue being great, you must identify these realities and then hit them head on.  Will 2014 be the year that Christian education and those who serve in it get beyond the curse of good?

Have you identified an area where you have fallen prey to the curse of good?  Is so, please share how you plan to break the spell during the coming year.  

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Edward is the founder and managing editor of Focus on Christian Education. He also serves as the Executive Director of the South Carolina Association of Christian Schools.