What’s the difference between being good and being nice? Do you know? As it turns out, the good vs. nice debate matters.
For example, I’m glad November is here. October was a good month for our family, but it was not a nice month by any means. The contrast between good and nice is greater than most people realize.
In an ideal world, good decisions and nice decisions would always work together, hand-in-hand. But our world is messy. More often than I would like, I find myself having to choose between the two.
Good Versus Nice—What’s the Difference between the two?
Let’s begin our conversation by examining what it means to be nice. Nice decisions feel warm and fuzzy. Nice men and women are peacekeepers. They don’t ruffle feathers and refrain from rocking the boat. On a personal note, I enjoy spending time with nice people, and I would like to be known as a nice guy.
On the other hand, good decisions are made by focusing on what is best. Good, looks at the big picture and acts with wisdom. being good takes into account:
- The feelings of others.
- Morals and values.
- And the long-term impact of the decision.
Good men and women strive to make wise choices even when this upset others. On the other hand, nice people chose not to rock the boat.Good, looks at the big picture and acts with wisdom. Click To Tweet
Good Versus Nice in Real Life
Halloween provides an excellent illustration of the good vs. nice debate. Most parents can relate. Nice parents choose not to rock the boat with rules and limits. They put their children entirely in charge of how much candy they will eat—This is the easy way out! Now, contrast this with good parenting, which uses sound judgment to put a structure in place.
The Problem with Nice
In his book, No More Mr. Nice Guy, Dr. Robert Glover, does an excellent job of getting to the root issue of the problem with only being nice. Nice people operate out of a worldview that believes,
If I can hide my flaws and become what I think others want me to be then I will be loved, get my needs met, and have a problem-free life.
Although this book is written specifically for men, I suppose the same could be said of women. One problem with being nice is that nice people are more concerned with keeping warm, fuzzy appearances than in doing what is wise. The flawed worldview says, “If I’m nice enough, life will go smoothly.” Yet, the Bible teaches that the sun and the rain come on the just and the unjust alike. No matter how nice we are, life on earth will never be problem-free. The bottom line is: The nice solution is not always best.The bottom line is: The nice solution is not always the best solution. Click To Tweet
Why Being Good is so Hard
In, No More Christian Nice Guy: When Being Nice—Instead of Good—Hurts Men, Women, and Children, author Paul Coughlin, illustrates how Jesus put being good, ahead of being nice.
Jesus used intense language. He was sarcastic and even exaggerated at times, to prove His point. Before you say, “Wait a minute Jed. Jesus was far too nice for that,” take a look at Mark 9:31. This passage describes an occasion where Jesus’ own disciples “didn’t understand what He meant and were afraid to ask Him about it.” If Jesus were simply a “nice guy,” the disciples would have had no difficulty asking Jesus what he meant. Had Jesus taken nice to an extreme, the disciples wouldn’t have had questions. After all, nice guys don’t say things that bother others.
Now, add this to the list of Jesus:
- Cleansing the temple…
- Calling the Pharisees, “whitewashed tombs…”
- And the whole, messy incident, of dying on an instrument of torture…
And it’s easy to see that while Jesus was always good, He was not always nice. Paul Coughlin states,
If we can’t bring ourselves to face the possibility of offending someone, we’ll never be able to consistently speak the truth.
The Integration of Good and Nice
Fortunately, nice and good are not polar opposites. On many occasions, the two are easily integrated:
- Greeting one’s spouse with a kiss.
- Playing with our children in the park.
- Reading a bedtime story.
- Faithfully going to work each day.
These are simple actions that are both good and nice. Nevertheless, problems arise when life gets messy:
- The nuances of blended-family life.
- Times where a loved one struggles with mental health concerns, anger issues, or addictions.
- And challenges that arise when teaching our children positive values.
These bumps in the road, cause good and nice to clash.
When Good and Nice Collide
[Tweet “When good and nice are at odds, the challenge is to put doing what is good, ahead of being nice. “] If you are anything like me, you’ll be tempted to take a nice way out. Upsetting others is never enjoyable. Nevertheless, sometimes boundaries need to be put in place.
Good parents say “no,” and “wait.” They have a structure for appropriate discipline for miss-behavior in the home.
Good husbands and wives address issues as they arise. They don’t allow tensions to build and problems to go unaddressed, with a peaceful, “nice,” smile on their face. Instead, good couples talk about everything. This includes finances, minor irritations, and their appreciation of the little things that keep their love strong.
Good employees do the right thing, even when it is a hard thing. In Beautiful Outlaw, John Eldredge writes, “We discover a Jesus who is in fact frequently embroiled in conflict—mot of which he provokes himself (like healing on the Sabbath).” While a nice guy will cower from conflict, good guys are not afraid to rock the boat. After all, some boats need to be rocked!
While a nice guy will cower from conflict, good guys are not afraid to rock the boat. After all, some boats need to be rocked! While a nice guy will cower from conflict, good guys are not afraid to rock the boat. After all, some boats need to be rocked! Click To Tweet
Why a Post on Good Versus Nice?
So, why write a post contrasting good decisions with nice decisions? The answer is easy. This post is as much for me as anyone reading it. This week, I found myself picking up old books, reading through the portions that I highlighted long ago, and reminding myself: [Tweet “It is perfectly OK to make a good decision, even when others don’t understand.”]
I figure that if I’m wrestling with making good decisions, others are struggling with this too. Today, my question for you is; Where are you and your family at? Are you in that wonderful place of maintaining the balance between being good and being nice? Are you operating from a place of making nice decisions, that don’t operate out of sound wisdom? Or, are you where my family and I found ourselves this month? Are you making the difficult decision to make good choices, even if some people get upset in the process?
Diving Deeper into Good vs. Nice
P.S. The Entitlement Cure: Finding Success in Doing Hard Things the Right Way, by John Townsend, is a book I’m currently enjoying. It’s all about laying aside what’s easy, warm, fuzzy, and “nice” to take up good things. It’s another excellent resource for anyone looking to dive deeper into the topic of good versus nice.
Good men are kind men, and after you read this article, I think you’ll agree. The good news is that being nice and being a jerk are not the only two options. Our world needs good, courageous, strong men and women like never before. And you and I can step up and fill this need!
So which are you, kind or nice? As you can see, the difference matters. Making the transition from nice to good isn’t always easy. And if you’d like to dive deeper, I’m here to help. You can schedule a free coaching call here, and we’ll dive in together!
Continuing the Conversation
What would you add to these thoughts? Has there been a time where you stood up for what was good, even when it didn’t feel nice? What would you add to this conversation? I’d love to hear your thoughts on being good vs. being nice. Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments below!