In the back of the mind, most ministry and business leaders want to be “the best in the world”. With the way we think of that phrase, it is extremely difficult to achieve that level.
Seth Godin, in his book The Dip, offers a different perspective on what that phrase means when he explains the definition of best and world. A change in focus means it is possible to be best in the world.
Best as in: best for them, right now, based on what they believe and what they know. And in the world as in: their world, the world they have access to.
Gee, that changes the focus from what critics or a panel of analysts might conclude is the best to a focus on the criteria that are important to a particular consumer. It is one specific consumer that concludes what is best and what is in their world.
So if I’m looking for a freelance copy editor, I want the best copy editor in English, whose available, who can find a way to work with me at a price I can afford. That’s my best in the world. If I want a hernia doctor, I want the doctor who is best because she’s recommended by my friends and colleagues and because she fits my picture of what a great doctor is. That, and she has to be in my town and have a slot open. So world is a pretty flexible term.
That changes your perspective doesn’t it? If you’re a small church, then you need to look for people who include friendships, being able to get involved, and actually knowing the pastor in their definition of best. Dove-award-level worship and ready-to-publish-another-best-seller-book preaching are not included in best. For those people, your programs may not be as ‘great’ as the mega-church across town, but you will be the best in the world for them.
On the other hand, if a person wants to attend a church with nationally recognized preaching, a full-time youth pastor for each age level of children, and a huge number of highly specialized programs run by trained full-time staff, then their best is the world will be the mega-church in town.
In the accounting world, some clients want the best CPA in the world, but do not include in their definition of best those firms that have super-premium pricing and a partner that won’t return phone calls. For those clients, a local firm, with reasonable prices, with stable staffing,and that actually get back to you will be their best in the world. For other clients, the definition of best CPA includes a name that is recognized by everybody and a manager that can answer exquisitely detailed questions on SEC disclosure regulations or Hong Kong filing requirements by end of the day, if not immediately. If that is a client’s definition of best, then only a first-tier firm will do.
Don’t meet whatever the definition is for best is the world as determined by your industry or what someone else says. Meet the definition of best in the world as defined by your constituents.
This is why we need to figure out whether we are in a cul-de-sac or dip. To reach the goal of best in the world we need to quit if we are in a cul-de-sac. Otherwise we are wasting our time.
On the other hand, if we are in a dip, then we need to keep pushing hard. Then we can be the best in the world.