Thursday, October 16, 2008
The Ingredients of Excellence
According to The Encarta Dictionary: English (North America), to be excellent is to be “extremely good, or of a very high quality or standard” (Encarta Dictionary: English, North American). Someone who is excellent in what they do is not only competent, but they are extremely gifted and good at what they do. Someone of excellence raises the bar and demands a higher quality and standard in their area of competence, interest or expertise. We should strive to be excellent in whatever we do and in every area of our lives and work.
Competence is one of the seven leadership skills taught and practiced by the National Outdoor Leadership School. According to the NOLS Leadership Educator Notebook, Competence involves displaying the ability to competently and actively improving ones knowledge, organization and management skills, and technical skills. Competent people set goals, make action plans, and follow through with the action plans that they set. Competent people take care of their personal maintenance needs to remain a highly functioning team member (Leach). Competence as a skill is defined in the NOLS Leadership Educator Notebook as “the ability to perform in a way that produces desired results (Leach).” Competence is essential in navigating expeditions in the wilderness. Without competence, we run the risk of failing at our expedition, injury, or even death.
Just as competence is important in an expedition, competence and excellence in our lives and walks with Christ is important to navigating the wilderness expedition of the Christian life. Excellence in our relationship with God and others is essential. A person of excellence, according to Paul in Colossians 3:12-17, has these attributes, elements, or ingredients: they are chosen by God, have a love of God, they love others, are compassionate, kind, humble, have a quiet strength, are disciplined, even tempered, content with where they are, they are forgiving, peaceful, in tune with their surroundings and with others, they are in step with what is going on, and with what is going on with others, they are not loners, are thankful, loving, obedient to the word of God, helpful in directing and instructing, and they use common sense, and rejoice with God and others.
Paul says it this way in Colossians 3:12-17:
“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way (Peterson).”
There are countless other scriptures that give us more ingredients for excellence, here are a few more from the Old and New Testaments:
Psalms 55:17 says, “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice. The ingredients for excellence that the Psalmist points out here are: a deep intimacy with God, regular prayer, honesty with God, and honesty with self ("The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version").
In Proverbs 31:10-31, we see a picture of the virtuous wife who exhibits excellence in the following ingredients: a person of excellence has generosity, has value beyond materialism, does good, is diligent, is hard working, is a provider, a cultivator, a strong person, a giving person, a fearless person, is innovative, and of good reputation, being a person who adds value to others, is entrepreneurial in spirit, has dignity, is joyful, hopeful, and wise, is a teacher, is someone who speaks kindness, is devoted, is blessed, and blesses others, and has the fear of the Lord ("The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version").
According to Luke, in Luke 11:2-4, the ingredient of prayer is mentioned again in a person of excellence along with recognizing God and being dependant on God, trusting God for provisions, seeking God’s will, and asking for forgiveness from God and others ("The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version").
Ingredients of excellence in Luke 18:1-8, according to Luke again, also includes prayer as well as persistence in seeking God out, and faithful persistence in our relationship with God through prayer ("The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version").
In Romans 2:18, Paul states the ingredients of excellence that include: seeking out God’s will and obedience to God’s law and perfect will ("The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version").
In James 1:5, James emphasizes the very important ingredient of excellence, that the Proverbs 31 wife also exhibits, which is wisdom. He also stresses that we get wisdom through another ingredient of excellence, prayer ("The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version"). This wisdom comes from God.
As we can see excellence is challenging as we venture on in this journey of the Christian life and it seems from these scriptures that excellence has less to do with us, and has more to do with our relationship with God and the gifts and strengths that He gives us through the power of His Spirit. We don’t have what it takes on our own to be competent or excellent without God. We cannot be excellent on our own. If we want to succeed in this wilderness expedition of the Christian life with competence and excellence, we must go to the source, who is none other than God. It is Jesus Christ who embodies and models excellence in all that He is, and because God is excellent, we too will be excellent as we follow Him, learn from Him and His word, and are empowered by Him.
May we mirror The Excellent, with excellence,
Encarta Dictionary: English, North American. 2008.
Leach, John Gookin and Shari. The Nols Leadership Educator Notebook: A Toolbox for Leadership Educators. Lander, WY: The National Outdoor Leadership School, 2004.
"The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version." Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997.
Peterson, Eugene H. The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo: NavPress, 2002.