Replacing “Good Luck”

Straight Talk

The Question:

What do you say instead of good luck??? That always bothers me but what can I say in its place?

– C. From Portsmouth, Virginia

The Answer
Part 1: Nothing by chance

Nothing by chance (Part 1)

You and I must think alike. I have always wondered the same thing but never heard anyone else say it bothered them too. It’s such a common phrase and used so innocently and with such good will I’m sure many people don’t share our sentiment. Still, many years ago I started intentionally avoiding the term. Before I share some of my work-arounds, however, I better address why I object to passing on “good luck” to others.

The dictionary defines luck as “a force that bring good fortune or adversity; the events or circumstances that operate for or against an individual; favoring chance.” (Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary) It’s that concept of a FORCE that does not sit well with me. I also don’t like the idea of CHANCE which leaves God’s providential plan off the map.

The more I read the Bible the clearer it becomes that God is not just a “force” and he does nothing by “chance.” “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matthew 10:30) “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” (Jeremiah 1:5) “’For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Luck carries the idea of randomness or maybe the whim of some tricky god who is toying with us. I just don’t like it.

There is no easy two word replacement for “good luck”, at least that I have found. “Best wishes” comes closest but that doesn’t always fit. I usually say something like, “I hope that goes well for you” or “I’m routing for you” or “I give you my best on that.” If I feel it will be well received, I try something regarding God’s blessing such as, “I pray God’s blessing for you.” See? Nothing quite matches the succinct yet unsatisfactory “good luck.” The inconvenience does not tempt me to succumb to using it though.

What about when people throw “good luck” to me? I receive it graciously and would never think of correcting them. People have only the very best of intentions when extending “good luck” and I accept it in that spirit. Let each person come to their own conclusion about how they wish to extend friendliness to another.