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Excellence

May 7, 2024
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“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23, NIV).

 

I traveled to Boston, Massachusetts last week to receive one of those honors one gets just for lasting a long time in medicine. Mine has been a mediocre record, so I was underwhelmed by my presence there. However, I found myself surrounded by men and women who had truly done great things in the field of science and patient care. I listened to their achievements, and I thought of all the good they have brought to suffering people whom God loves. Though most were not followers of Christ, I realized how God had used their excellence for His purpose.

 

Should we strive for excellence as followers of Christ?

 

We know that excellence requires a lot more time and pressure than good. Why not just do good work, focus elsewhere, and let others do excellence?

 

Two reasons:

  1. Excellence best cares for those whom God sent us to serve.
  2. People who trust our work are more likely to trust our message of Christ.

 

What is excellence anyway?

 

Let me throw out this definition: Christian excellence is running the best you can in whatever race God places you, with the gifts God gives you, within the boundaries He has established.

Excellence is striving for the best; but, as in all good things, when pursued in excess, can lead to harm.

 

As we are pushing for excellence, we must monitor the boundaries God has put in place:

  1. Family: No other boundary is as important or as hard to discern in the pursuit of excellence. Requires daily prayer.
  2. Skill: God has tuned me perfectly for His song. I have no business playing someone else’s note.
  3. Place: Our Christian imaginations can take us elsewhere. For most of us, our race begins right where we are standing.
  4. Witness: Any action that harms my witness for Christ takes me off track.
  5. Kindness: How often I have stumbled for the lack of it.
  6. Biblical guidelines: Jesus said, “…I have come not to abolish [the law] but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17b, NIV).

 

Three caveats:

  1. God is free to shift the boundaries of family, skills and place as He chooses.
  2. Any power in our striving comes from God.
  3. The goal I am running toward is God’s glory, not mine.

 

Excellence on these terms is vital if we seek to complete our mission for Christ on this side of glory.

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or as Beethoven composed music, or as Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”

 

Dear God,

Give me the will and the power to be excellent at any task you assign.

Amen

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