33. Excellence

Henry Kissinger, the US Secretary of State during the Nixon administration, tells of a Harvard professor who had given his students an assignment. After collecting the papers, he marked them before returning them to the students. At the bottom of one was written, "Is this the best you can do?" The student thought, "no," and redid the paper. He submitted it, but it was returned to him again with the same comment. This went on ten times till finally, the student said, "Yes, this is the best I can do." The professor replied, "Good. Now I'll read it."

Nobody is born excellent. Attaining excellence takes discipline and hard work. It involves doing something repeatedly until one gets it perfect, not just right. Then it becomes a way of living and guarantees success in our endeavors. The wise king Solomon once said, "Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank" (Proverbs 22:29).

Well, there aren't too many kings still walking on earth — dear old Charles is probably one of the last — but there is another king greater than any other who rules the earth. His name is Jesus. Paul urges us to please him. "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as (though you are) working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving" (Colossians 3:23-24). However, when it comes to doing things for God, even those among us who generally take pride in our work, get shoddy. Have you noticed? Let us not be like this.

Then, sometimes we believe the nature of the work does not merit the extra effort. Like plumbing, perhaps. However, to paraphrase John Gardner, if we scorn excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerate shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity, we will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water. And that's so true.

The pursuit of excellence begins in the mind. Paul put it beautifully when he said, "Brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" (Philippians 4:8).

So, as we choose excellence today, let us think about such things, remembering yet another piece of advice Paul gave. He said, "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).

God bless you.

More in this category: « 32. Integrity 34. To Serve »
Click here for the extended "LIVE" versions:
1. Abundant Life
2. Perseverance
3. Humility
4. Rest
5. To Abide
6. To Wait
7. To Look Ahead
8. Light
9. Grace
10. Contentment
11. Love
12. Repentance
13. To Forgive
14. To Surrender
15. Joy
16. Faith
17. Discipline
18. Hope
19. Freedom
20. Gratitude
21. To Listen
22. Truth
23. Peace
24. Encouragement
25. To Imitate Christ
26. Friendship
27. Unity
28. To Remember
29. Conversion
30. Generosity
31. Revival
32. Integrity
33. Excellence
34. To Serve
35. Tongue Control
36. Courage
37. Wisdom
38. Purity
39. Stewardship
40. To Evangelize
Choice 01 — I Choose Abundant Life
Choice 01 — I Choose Abundant Life
Today, in our series on *40 Choices*, we choose the *Abundant Life*. Please share the video and bless others.
To watch an *expanded 30-minute live version* of this reflection, please visit https://bit.ly/ichooseabundantlife
Transcript
Jesus said: “The thief comes only to steal Read More
Choice 02: I Choose Perseverance
Choice 02: I Choose Perseverance
Today, in our series on *40 Choices*, we choose *Perseverance*. Please share the video and bless others.
To watch an *expanded 30-minute live version* of this reflection, please visit : https://bit.ly/ichooseperseverance
Transcript
One day Jesus told his disciples a parable to show Read More
Choice 03: I Choose Humility
Choice 03: I Choose Humility
Today, in our series on *40 Choices*, we choose *Humility*. Please share the video and bless others.
To watch an expanded 30-minute live version of this reflection, please visit: https://bit.ly/ichoosehumility
Transcript
One day when Jesus was dining with a group of Read More
Choice 04: I Choose Rest
Choice 04: I Choose Rest
Today, in our series on *40 Choices*, we choose *To Rest*. Please share the video and bless others.
To watch an expanded 30-minute live version of this reflection, please visit: https://bit.ly/ichooserest
Transcript
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary Read More
Choice 05: I Choose to Abide
Choice 05: I Choose to Abide
Today, in our series on *40 Choices*, we choose *To Abide*. Please share the video and bless others.
To watch an expanded 30-minute live version of this reflection, please visit: https://bit.ly/ichoosetoabide
Transcript
One of the loveliest pictures Jesus painted is the one Read More
Choice 06: I Choose to Wait
Choice 06: I Choose to Wait
Today, in our series on *40 Choices*, we choose to *Wait*. Please share the video and bless others.
To watch an expanded 30-minute live version of this reflection, please visit: https://bit.ly/ichoosetowait
Transcript
One of my favorite passages of Scripture — I have Read More
Choice 07: I Choose to Look Ahead
Choice 07: I Choose to Look Ahead
Today, in our series on *40 Choices*, we choose to *Look Ahead*. Please share the video and bless others. 
To watch an *expanded 30-minute live version* of this reflection, please visit https://bit.ly/ichoosetolookahead.
Transcript
Disappointments are a part of life. So is failure. So, also Read More
Choice 08: I Choose Light
Choice 08: I Choose Light
Today, in our series on *40 Choices*, we choose *Light*. Please share the video and bless others.
To watch an *expanded 30-minute live version* of this reflection, please visit https://bit.ly/ichooselight.
Transcript
Have you ever had to navigate a room in the darkness? Read More
Choice 09: I Choose Grace
Choice 09: I Choose Grace
Today, in our series on *40 Choices*, we choose *Grace*. Please share the video and bless others. 
To watch an *expanded 30-minute version* of this reflection, please https://bit.ly/ichoosegrace.
Transcript
John Bradford was an English Reformer who lived in the 16th century. One day Read More
Choice 10: I Choose Contentment
Choice 10: I Choose Contentment
Today, in our series on *40 Choices*, we choose *Contentment*. Please share the video and bless others. 
To watch an *expanded 30-minute version* of this reflection, please visit https://bit.ly/ichoosecontentment.
Transcript
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote: "I know what it is Read More

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