Amen To Excellence
Even so ye, for as much as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. ~ 1 Corinthians 14:12
On the radio today, I heard a Christian athlete speak of "excelling." He said that he was inspired to do so by reading scripture, especially the story of Daniel. It made me think of my own life. I have parents who constantly encouraged me to do my best in whatever I attempted and to not let others' low opinions of my abilities limit what I could accomplish. I'm very blessed to have parents like that. I've tried to pass than on to my students whom I teach.
Paul said that, whatever we find ourselves doing, we should do it with all our hearts, as for God, not for man (Colossians 3:23). After all, God is our Heavenly Father. Just as my parents inspired me to do the best that I could, so our Heavenly Father is the Ultimate Cheerleader, waiting to turn to all who will listen and say, "See my son, my daughter down there? They are giving their best." (Remember Job 1:8?)
Striving for excellence is a fast-fading character trait among Americans. My pastor, in a sermon a week ago, spoke of this very thing: that Americans today, more than ever before, want maximum reward for minimum effort. "But that's human nature, isn't it?" you say. Yes, it is human nature: fallen human nature. However, it is unbefitting a Christian. We should be different.
I've thanked my parents for teaching me this. I'm not saying that I'm Mr. Excellent; I fail plenty. But I have noticed that STRIVING for excellence is a driving force in me, a character trait planted and nurtured first by my parents, then by God. I believe my boss has discovered this. He knows that I like challenges. He will get better and faster work out of me if he will call me in and say, "Chuck, I have something here that I need help with. Could you see if you can do something with it? Just do it when you can." I'll hop to it and see it as a challenge to show him how well and how promptly I can do it. I'll do it much better and faster, than if he said, "Chuck, do this...and do it by Thursday. Close the door on the way out." In that case, I'll do it, and I'll do it proficiently, but probably by Thursday afternoon. (I should probably work on that. I should be inspired by either approach to the task, actually.)
I've found that creativity and excellence are cousins. Tell me to do it in an A-B-C step, and I will. Tell me to find a way to do it, and I'll likely find it challenging and attempt to find a new way to do it. Finding creative ways to do God's work is exciting to me, too. Traditional ways are fine, but the Creator is creative. I love it when God shows me new approaches to do His Biblical enjoinments.
I didn't mean for this devotion to be so much about me. But, in a way, it is a tribute to my earthly parents and my Heavenly Father, all of whom have inspired me toward excellence. I want the world to believe that my parents are excellent and that my Heavenly Father is excellent. The only way I can do that is to live as excellently as I can.
Author Chuck Bassett