What 'good value' really means. (repost)
Here's a little repost from the archives of this blog. I'm tired and cranky today, staying up with my two year old and although I do have something new to write about, it will have to wait.
Being a little bit pernickety about what people and say and turns of phrase, it's time for another little rant about some words I don't like right now.
Commonly heard in my church circles is this particular compliment: "Oh, he/she/they are really good value."
While I'm all for compliments and encouragement, being 'good value' is not something I'd like to hear about myself.
If you go shopping, a purchase that is 'good value' usually means that you get a lot for the price you pay. The product lasts longer, does more, is better quality or just generally more desirable than an equivalent product. 'Good value' is a comparative term. Just by calling something 'good value', you are saying that it is better than something else.
To use the term 'good value' about people says the same thing. That person is better than this person. They last longer, work harder, are nicer or more desirable than someone else. We get more for our 'investment' in this person than we do for our investment in that person.
But in the church, all people are of equal value. We are all valuable because of the work of Christ in saving and redeeming us. And as the Bible says, we are all different parts of the same body. Some people are the hands, others are the little toes. Each part is valuable for its part in the body.
It's impossible to say that one part of a body is 'better value' than another part. If my hands work harder than my feet, it's either because they are made that way, or because the whole body is spending more time sitting down SO THAT the hands can work harder.
In my church circles, we usually use the term 'good value' about people who work hard, attend faithfully and/or teach Sunday school, Scripture or youth group. They put their hands up for jobs and they do them well. They're also usually quite down-to-earth, with a bit of a larrikin sense of humour.
I've never heard the term used about the young woman with chronic fatigue syndrome, who struggles to get to church, or the older man who's probably on the autistic spectrum, but you wouldn't really know because he's so introverted he can't put three words together, or the middle aged woman who's been through a traumatic divorce and is just holding her life together as a single woman.
Who's more valuable in Christ's eyes? Thankfully, because of grace, all of us.
The hard workers have their special place. The struggling people in crisis have their special place too. Introverts and extroverts are equally valuable. People who need four hours sleep a night and can do ten jobs at once are as valuable as those who need large amounts of rest and can only concentrate on doing one thing at a time.
Let's get rid of the phrase 'good value' as applied to people. It's both untrue and unhelpful to the body of Christ.