27 Sep Excellence – A Christian Mandate
I saw an advertisement of a hotel “excellence is our minimum standard.” That hotel would be giving excellent service. Many times we undervalue the meaning of excellence. Our God is a God of Excellence. His excellence is seen in every minute make up of fauna that ranges from an amoeba in water to man on earth as crown of all creation. The flora consists of its colours, varieties, adaptability, growth, blossoming, etc. reveal the excellence of our God’s handiworks. The solar system, galaxy and the universe manifest His craftsmanship (Ps. 24:1). Excellence in creation also manifests the perfection in make ups. Otherwise we may say excellence is hardly seen imperfect things. Excellence and perfection are the two characteristics of His creation. Therefore, as we claim to be children of the Excellent God, does He not expect the same excellence from His children?
A disciplined father always expects his children also should have certain level of discipline. But when he doesn’t see this quality in his children’s lives father would be pained in his heart. So how am I involved in the mission of our God, whether it is study or career, mission or profession? Are we taking the pain to complete the task excellently for the Lord? Why are we not able to do things excellently? There are many reasons.
The prime reason is lack of passion. If we have real passion to do something we will put our mind, soul, and physique on it. The total involvement of all the faculties of life may be called, passion. This is seen in the preaching, teaching, and healing ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. Even the little matters Lord involved, be it healing Peter’s mother-in-law, raising Lazarus from death, He did everything with a passion and the output was excellent. He finished earthly public ministry in three and half years and never missed any opportunity or wasted any time. We read that Jesus got up early in the morning, spent time with the Father and was able to complete every task entrusted on Him even on the cross. We have a passionate God. So this passion should necessarily be exhibited in studies as well as in profession. If we don’t have the enthusiasm to study the subject well we may not excel in our examinations. If we lack enthusiasm to involve in any profession or mission then we can’t expect outstanding result. Therefore, how much we involve physically, mentally, spiritually and with a passion at any given task given by our teachers, employers, and superiors matters. Let’s remember that lethargy is a big threat to excellence. Paul urges Timothy, . . . to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you. . .(2 Tim. 2:6) Again he exhorts him to be like a Soldier, Athlete and Farmer; he expects Timothy to have such a wholehearted involvement in the ministry. (2 Tim. 2:4-7).
Secondly, we lack excellence due to less preparation and practice. This is true for all the three professions mentioned above. A soldier is thoroughly trained and prepared to undertake any uneventful task at any situation. Whether it is war or disaster or riots he is trained to take up any responsibility at his commander’s order. Similarly an athlete practises daily and disciplines his body and mind to achieve the crown (excellence). Farmer also prepares and tends his field daily or frequently and expects his first fruits. Advance preparation and regular practices are inevitable for excellent output. Some students don’t prepare thoroughly for the exams but they may be familiar with the passage, portion and locations of their subjects but not thoroughly imbibed the content of the subject. During the exam they may write half the answers. Overconfidence can also inhibit proper preparation. Intense practice and thorough preparations produce excellent output. I still remember a member of Parliament from Kerala who was elected first time to the Loksabha had a tough time initially in communicating in Hindi and English. But before each session of the Parliament he prepared thoroughly with the help of his colleagues in JNU, New Delhi and deliberated excellently in each session of Parliament. I know a few Christian leaders who prepare thoroughly and well in advance for their sessions for any conference or Seminars. During this preparation period they normally don’t take up any other assignments. I have found all their sessions well laid down and thought provoking. As Christians how much we prepare and practice for our assignments? Our preparation and practice are directly proportional to the output. Moreover as Christians we have an upper edge on excellence as we can sandwich preparation and practice with strength of prayer.
Pursuit is absolutely necessary for sustaining excellence for it doesn’t come spontaneously. Why don’t we bother about excellence? Perhaps hardly we tasted the joy of being excellent and how it brings glory to the name of the Lord.
Once we bring excellent result we tend to do more because that gives us motivation to pursue. When we are satisfied with bear minimum result, we also lack consistency in achieving excellence. Consistency in excellence is achieved through pursuit and hard work. Pursuit without boredom is difficult. Occasionally we may face defeat but it should push us forward to excel in our work next time. We should be patient enough to see the best outcome of performance.
Hard work is also equally important to achieve excellence. In a instant world, people prefer immediate results. But every natural phenomenon takes its own time whether it is gestation period of animals or human beings, blossoming of flowers or fruits, seasons or climatic changes (unwanted climate changes takes place due to exploitive human interventions) can’t be substituted with instants or shortcuts. Shortcuts may not give desirable results always. Now a days people say ‘not the hard work but the smart work matters.’ But this has been misunderstood as ‘hard work can be replaced by smart work.’ That is not true as hard work has got significant place in achieving excellence. No toppers, achieved excellence except through hard work. Again all the three analogies defined by St Paul has got element of pursuit and hard work though it is only tagged with farmer. Moreover Paul also reminds the churches about the need of working hard for the cause of the Gospel as he too set an example for the same.
I often wonder how the Lord pursued the disciples to carry on the mission He finished on the cross. Even after repeated instructions, interpretations of parables, times and events Apostle Peter and others went back to their old profession of fishing. But the Master persuaded him and challenged him to set the priority right and brought him back on the right mission even when very few days were left for His ascension. That persuasion reinforced Peter to preach the gospel in an excellent way in later years. If youngsters want to perform in studies or in ministry or in profession some persuasion is necessary from the senior’s side. Yielding to correction, patient listening, consistent pursuit are not options for excellence but are mandatory.
About the Author
George Thomas, is the Director Operations ESAF, also serves as a member in Governing Board of Christian Auxiliary for Rural Development (CARD), the Secretary, National EGF. His wife Sheena works as Civil Engineer with Kerala PWD. He is part of Thrissur EGF.