Becoming Enough

“Enough” is not a word that typically inspires. Perhaps we’ve had enough of something negative—“enough already.” Or maybe we’ve reached the minimum threshold of something positive—“good enough.” But when is something, or someone, simply enough?

Prior to entering vocational ministry, I had pursued a career in healthcare management where I thrived in a constant state of dissatisfaction with the status quo. I was trained in the ways of performance metrics, dashboards, best practices, and improvement initiatives. The prevailing logic was these tools would incentivize better performance, generally through a three-step process: define measurable goals, implement well-researched improvement plans, and offer rewards for achieving said goals.

The philosophy seemed compelling—that organizations would better serve stakeholders if they continually innovated, delivering perpetually higher-value services and products to consumers.

But after transitioning to my current pastoral role, I now see this system more clearly. Although the output of continuously improving processes is largely valued by consumers (who doesn’t like higher quality products at lower prices?), the foundational starting point that nothing is ever good enough can actually cause harm.

 

Jesus’s purpose was not for us to simply do better.

 

The marketplace economy requires consumers to want more, desire more—all the time. For the system to function, what we have can never be enough. Spreading this message is essential for the economic system to bolster profits, spur innovation, and generate wealth for investors. And that message comes with consequences.

“Not enough” seeps into our sense of self. I am not enough. I am not successful enough. I am not smart enough. I am not funny enough. I am not cross-cultural enough.

And it seeps into the messaging within our churches and ministries. We are not enough. We are not large enough. We are not financially stable enough. We are not multi-generational enough.

It’s true that operating from a place of deficit can generate productive outputs. With the right tools, resources, and incentives, many organizations turn “not enough” into “success.” But operating from a mindset of deficit can come at great human expense. It elevates the achievement of measurable goals over the humanity of the people who are doing the work. It can even obscure the humanity of the people we intend to benefit.

Case in point: organizations are increasingly identifying diversity and inclusion as a strategic priority, creating dedicated departments and setting goals for diverse representation in the workforce. While important work is indeed being done, I find myself increasingly aware that the “not enough” mindset—we are not diverse enough—carries the risk of further objectifying the very people such strategic goals are meant to benefit. Yes, representation is important. But to blindly apply continuous improvement methods to address an evil as endemic and destructive as the system of race, is incomplete.

Jesus’s purpose was not for us to simply do better. His message was not to do better in prayer, do better in worship, or do better in diversity. The Gospels do not proclaim a message of continuous improvement. Rather, Jesus brought a message of grace, of an entirely new kingdom of God that is coming and has come, on earth as is in heaven. The kingdom of God does not operate on the currency of the world. As we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” the transformation of grace starts first in our own hearts and allows us to see our true worth.

In Christ, I am enough. In Christ, we are enough. Fully resting in this truth is vital for us to be liberated from the lies of racism, patriarchy, and classism. When we rest in our enough-ness, we can more fully see the image of God in our fellow sisters and brothers. When we embrace the truth of our belovedness and fully rely on the Spirit to move us, miraculous healing can occur and dividing walls can be collectively dismantled. We are enough.

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