I really want to be excellent at whatever I do. The problem is I rarely feel excellent. Maybe you can relate.
It feels like there is a gap between what I bring to the table and what I wish I brought to the table. Anyone with me? Over the course of time I have realized that intangible label of “excellence” I pursued was really mis-labeled. I thought I was striving for excellence. At the end of many exhausting days and draining moments I realized I was inadvertently pursuing perfection.
Pursuing perfection is like running on a treadmill. You burn a lot of calories but you do not gain any ground.
When we confuse perfection and excellence one of two things tend to happen:
- We exhaust ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually by striving for perfection. We put ourselves in a race we will never finish or win.
- We stop trying altogether. We see the gap between us and perfection and just throw in the towel and settle for mediocrity.
None of us can be perfect. Each of us can be excellent.
Not only can each of us be excellent at what we do, but I tend to believe God invites us to be excellent in all the areas of our life. But what does that look like? How do I know if I am offering up excellence or something less than?
When I think about excellence there is a story that comes to mind from the life of Jesus. The story is about a woman named Mary who had major respect and affection for Jesus. She wanted to show her care for Jesus in a big way. I don’t know how you would chose to show respect for someone important to you.
I’d probably write them a handwritten note or a well thought out email. If they were really important to me I might send them a gift. If I am in a hurry I might shoot them a DM with a word of encouragement.
Mary on the other hand decided to work with what she had. John, a disciple of Jesus who walked with Jesus for years tells us that Mary took a jar of expensive perfume and she poured it all over the feet of Jesus.
The act might not make much sense in our day, but there is a lesson behind it that will challenge each of us.
I don’t know much about perfume, but I know that the jar Mary was using was really expensive. John notes that it was worth a years wages. That had to be some fantastic perfume!
There is a simple lesson you and I can learn from Mary and this story.
GIVE YOUR BEST.
You and I are excellent when we give our best. We don’t need to be perfect. We can’t be perfect. But we can be excellent and offer up our best.
That jar of perfume that Mary used. That was the best she had to offer. It wasn’t the best jar of perfume in the world, it wasn’t a perfect jar – but it was HER best.
We offer excellence when we give our best at whatever we are doing.
God is inviting me, and He is inviting you… to be excellent by giving your best at whatever is in front of you.
- You will not be a perfect volunteer. But you can be an excellent volunteer by bringing your best energy and passion whenever you serve.
- You will not be a perfect friend. But you can be an excellent friend by listening, caring and engaging.
- You will not be a perfect husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend or fill in the blank. But you can be excellent by honoring your significant other and putting them first.
- You will not be a perfect boss or employee. You can be an excellent boss or employee by finding ways to add value and treating people with dignity and respect.
Find a way to aim for excellence today. Don’t exhaust yourself trying to be perfect. Don’t give up altogether because you can’t be perfect. Just offer up your best.
So this week, wherever God has given you influence and relationships, aim to be excellent in those areas of your life – and see what God will do.
I invite you to continue the conversation around Excellence through one of two ways:
- A brief 3 minute video:
- A great podcast conversation
3 thoughts on “Aim for Excellence”
And this, Pastor, is an excellent article.
“Pursuing perfection is like running on a treadmill. You burn a lot of calories but you do not gain any ground.” – Pastor Cory Lebovitz
I’m saving and sharing your words, Pastor. Thank you.
Love this. Excellence vs perfection
The discussion concerning perfection and excellence provide an important life lesson for all of us. As we know, all of us fall far short of perfection. In his writings, St. Paul teaches us that perfection is unobtainable in our mortal lives; however, it is by the grace of God we are saved and one day will be made perfect. With this knowledge, we may aim for perfection, but be content to settle on excellence.