Dear friend,

I’ve been thinking about the phrase “Do your best.” It’s a good phrase. A simple phrase.

It sounds straightforward.

However, I think we misunderstand it or add extra meaning to it.

Sometimes I’ve thought “Do your best” means doing the best.

Doing your best is a good thing. However, if you become obsessed with perfection because you think you have to do the best instead of doing your best, it becomes an unhealthy interpretation of the phrase.

High expectations

I often get overwhelmed with things I didn’t get done.

I get caught up in the things I “should” be able to. Then I get frustrated with myself when I don’t finish those tasks. Or I even feel ashamed when I don’t get done the things I’m expecting to.

Not everyone can do everything. This seems obvious, as everyone has different skill sets.

You wouldn’t ask a ten-year-old to drive the family van on vacation. Or ask a person in a wheelchair to go up (or down) a flight of stairs.

Something I’ve learned from interacting with people with disabilities is that your “best” today will likely be different from your “best” tomorrow or yesterday. The reason I’ve learned this from people with disabilities is that it just shows itself more prominently. (This video explains dynamic disabilities here.)

But it applies to normally functioning people, too. You do your best each day. Take advantage of the really good days. Be patient with yourself on bad ones.

Photo by Pixabay

What does God expect?

I was thinking about what God expects from us versus what we expect from ourselves. God just wants to have a relationship with us. When he asks us to do something, it might be hard but he promises to be there with us. And he’s going to be doing the heavy lifting.

It makes me think of Gideon in the Bible. In Judges 6 and 7, God found Gideon hiding from a Midianite raid and told him to go save Israel from Midian. Gideon questioned why God would choose him, as he was the youngest son of the weakest clan. God replied that He had a plan and He would be with Gideon.

Long story short, Gideon found 32,000 men willing to fight the Midianites. God told Gideon there were too many men. So Gideon sent home 22,000 men. This happened again until there were only three hundred men left.

Gideon and the three hundred men snuck up on the Midian camp and scared them by blowing trumpets, smashing jars, and waving torches. The Midianites were so scared they turned on each other, killing each other and fleeing into the night.

What to do about it

It’s a pretty bizarre story. And it only could have happened because God was with Gideon and Gideon obeyed what God asked of him.

At first, Gideon tried to live up to what he thought God wanted from him. But God didn’t want 32,000 men. He only wanted 300. And He didn’t even need them all to fight, just make a little noise.

Next time you find yourself frustrated at something you “should” be able to do. Take a breath. Be patient with yourself, and ask God what he thinks you be doing.


R. J. Catlin