by Michael Goldsmith
A few years ago, Bruce Wilkerson’s book The Prayer of Jabez took the nation by storm, selling in excess of 8.7 million copies. It was featured on nearly every best seller list, including #1 for both the New York Times and USA Today. It received the 2001 Book of the Year Gold Medallion Award as well as many others.
The book is an expanded commentary of the prayer of Jabez as recorded in 1 Chronicles 4:9–10 (NASB):
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother named him Jabez saying, “Because I bore him with pain.” Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!” And God granted him what he requested.
There is one statement I suggest is the key to being a “best-self” person. It’s found in verse 9, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.” Today’s English Version translates it this way: “He was the most respected member of his family.” In other words, Jabez was a best-self person.
I submit to you that each of us has three different selves we exhibit: (1) our worst self, (2) our good enough self, and (3) our best self. These fall on a continuum, with our worst self anchoring one end, our best self the other, and our good enough self squarely in the middle.
Our worst self is fairly self-explanatory—it is when we act our worst. We all have times when the worst comes out of us. We lose our temper, let our darker emotions control us, or lash out toward others. Examples of worst-self living abound.
Next is our good enough self—when we let mediocrity reign. The good enough motto is “good enough to get by.” This self is a grade “C” on the report card of life. It gets you through. You don’t make the honor roll, but you’re not failing either. I believe many of us live the vast majority of our lives from the good enough self. It defines the norm.
Finally comes our best self. Best self is “best of effort.” When we live from our best self, we add value to others, honor God, and raise our own self-esteem. All of us have moments of best-self activity. Those are the times highly prized in your mind: You could not have been better, done it better, or lived it better.
Our best self is energizing. We’re proud of ourselves, and we make a vital contribution to whatever we put our hand to. The best self breeds life, recharges our batteries, contributes more than it consumes, and raises us and those around us to a higher, better life.
Consistently living from your best self is the key to becoming a “most respected member” of family, society, church, community, and the nation. It’s not our worst self that competes against the best; it’s our good enough self that’s the real culprit.
Why not decide, as much as possible, to live a best-self life. Make a decision that more times than not, you’re going to live from the best-self side of you. By living from your best self, you’ll become your own best-seller.
Michael Goldsmith has pastored congregations in North Little Rock, Conway, Pine Bluff and Siloam Springs, Arkansas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. He now serves with Global University as Director of Advancement for a project in a sensitive country. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org