The World English Dictionary defines excellence as the state or quality of excelling or being exceptionally good. Possessing outstanding quality or superior merit; remarkably good. Also: An action or characteristic in which a person excels.
Over the past year, I’ve found many of my endeavors have been mediocre, at best. Not all. But most tasks are simply done good enough to get by. I put off unpleasant jobs as long as possible, until they become a minor crisis. I rush through other duties deemed unimportant or mundane, to hurry up and get them done. Before I know it, I’m even skimping on things that really do matter. Laziness and complacency and lame excuses have tacked themselves on to me like too many over-indulged holiday treats.
Then one night, right before Christmas, I saw something that really challenged me. A picture on Facebook that a friend had posted of his presents. But these weren't just any wrapped gifts, either. They were works of art. Art that he’d probably spent all day working on. They made my packages look like a kindergartner has hastily wrapped them. And I’d thought I was being fancy by sticking a bow on top.
After picking my bottom lip off the floor, I stared at the picture of my friend’s gifts for the longest time, thinking…
The Bible says that whatever we do, we should work at it with all our heart (or heartily as the KJV reads), as working for the Lord and not men. (Colossians 3:23)
Heartily means such words as: sincerely, thoroughly, without restraint, exuberantly, and so forth. We could also say, “Work at it with excellence…” It means putting that extra effort into those tasks we set our hands to.
As I looked at that picture, I was thinking of the effort my friend had put into them. I also thought of the effort he puts into a lot of things he does, thoroughly paying attention to details, not restraining himself to do things the easy way, but sincerely puts his best forward when it’s something he really loves to do.
But who and what do we really love?
What does a life of Excellence look like?
Perhaps not taking so many shortcuts.
Could be focusing on and taking time for the details. Don’t despise the small things.
Maybe adding a bit of flair. Putting yourself into all you do.
Most definitely….Not settling for good-enough.
Excellence does not equal Perfection.
Perfection is unattainable. No matter how hard one tries, there will always be some imperfection. Somewhere. Somehow.
However, if you walk one mile, you can certainly go one more. Excellence is the giving your shirt along with your coat. Excellence is turning the other cheek when you’ve been wounded. Excellence is praying for those who don’t deserve your prayers. Excellence is putting all the love you have for the Lord into everything you do. Not because of what you hope to get out of it, but because God has given a gift, whatever talent you possess, and some gifts aren’t meant to be kept, but shared.
So I've made it a goal this new year, to try a little harder. To not rush. To slow down and put my very best into whatever I set my hands to. Doesn't matter if it's cooking a dinner for my family, or spending time with a friend, or writing one of my stories. I want to do this because of my love for my Lord who set the standard when he created an excellent world and lived an excellent a life.
Hebrews 12:12 says, Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees, "Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy: without holiness no one will see the Lord.
Striving for excellence not only helps me, but it let's God's light shine through everything I do.
That's what really matters, right?
Pictures are from my very talented friend, Greg.