IVP - Online Pulpit - Excellence - A Critical Need for a Leader

November 1, 2008

Excellence - A Critical Need for a Leader

“If anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)

People who pursue excellence strive for the best in their families, their businesses, their ministries and their personal lives. The thread of excellence runs through the fabric of their lives. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry.” Whatever our role or lot in life, we should strive for the best.

Jesus was committed to excellence. The New Testament writer Mark reminds us, “People were overwhelmed with amazement, ‘[Jesus] has done everything well,’ they said.” (Mark 7:37 NIV). God gave his very best—his Son. And his Son gave his very best—his life. His followers should do no less. To do less than our best is less than adequate.

What Is Excellence?

  • Excellence doesn’t mean being the best but being your best. Understanding that variation makes all the difference in the world.
  • Excellence is not success. Success means being better than everyone else is.
  • Excellence is not perfection. Excellence is doing the best you can with what you have.
  • Excellence is not being “good enough.” Excellence is going the extra mile.
  • Excellence is not arrival. Excellence is found in the journey, not in the destination.
  • Excellence is a process, the long-term pursuit of quality.

Tips for Pursuing Excellence

Discover your niche. Excellence requires finding what we do well and then doing it. When we discover our niche it helps us exercise our spiritual gifts and natural talents. Consequently, it helps us to prioritize our time, finances and other resources. It aids us in saying no to the many demands, comparisons and comments that might sidetrack us.

Give attention to detail. The difference between something good and something great is the attention to detail. In the end people will never know how long it takes you to do something. They will only know how well it is done.

Be committed to work. Long ago an ancient Greek wrote, “The gates of excellence are always surrounded by a sea of sweat.” It takes work to achieve excellence. There are no shortcuts.

Focus your mind. Your mind needs to stay in the present in order to pay complete attention to the task at hand. Unfortunately, errors occur when you are distracted. You must focus your mind to remain firmly planted in the here and now.

John Gardner writes in his book Excellence: “Some people have greatness thrust upon them. Very few have excellence thrust upon them… . They achieve it. They do not achieve it unwittingly by ‘doing what comes naturally’ and they don’t stumble into it in the course of amusing themselves. All excellence involves discipline and tenacity of purpose.”

And the apostle Paul reminds us that “those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.” Let’s serve Christ well by being excellent leaders.

Posted by Rick Ezell at November 1, 2008 9:25 AM Bookmark and Share

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