It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps*, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom (Dan 6:1-3. *A satrap was a governor of a province).
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ (Col 3:23-24).
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet 1:3-11).
Excellence is not a destination. Excellence is a journey, a habit, a way of life, an attitude. It’s something you do, not something you arrive at.
Excellence was the subject today in our staff discipleship group. One thing we realized is how we failed to be excellent, and the misconceptions many of us had about excellence.
A big misconception was that excellence is a status or a destination. Our director, Andy, started by sharing this quote from bible.org (which is a great site for topical bible study), found in this article:
The quest for excellence fuels our fire and keeps us from just drifting downstream gathering debris.
I love this image. Because, if you think about it, everything you do is slowly being undone. We have a term for this: entropy. Things are always falling apart.
Because of entropy, because everything of this world is always being undone, if you want to do anything that will last, you need to constantly strive forward. You are a ship trying to sail upstream: you need an engine that will drive you upstream, or you will drift with the current, losing ground. And that engine is excellence.
Excellence is an ongoing process.
Let’s unpack 2 Peter above.
First, we see that excellence is a calling. It’s something every Christian is called to: God’s glory and excellence. It is by these things that God has saved you, and it is to them that you are called.
Second, because you are called to God’s glory excellence (“for this very reason”), you must pursue not just faith, but also virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
These are not things that you have or have not. Not a destination. They must be increasing! It’s something ongoing, a pursuit!
Through and through, the Bible attests that excellence is a journey.
The second misconception we realized some (many) of us had was this: that excellence was perfection.
Excellence is not perfection! If it were perfection, it would not be a journey—because where can you go from perfect?
It’s very easy to confuse excellence with perfection. The fact is, you only have so much time and energy. You only have so many resources. You are not going to be perfect in everything you do.
When you confuse excellence with perfection, you burn yourself out. You hold yourself to an impossible standard, one you will never meet, and you will not meet it. In the pursuit of it, you leave no margin in your life, no rest, and you can’t take it. You burn out.
God didn’t make you to burn out. God gave you a Sabbath. Remember that the Sabbath is a commandment and a promise of rest and renewal!
Don’t get disheartened by not being perfect. Don’t let perfection consume your life. Excellence means growth, not perfection.
Everyone has something you need to grow in. The question is not “Is it perfect?” but “Are you growing in it?” If not, how will you grow? Set a goal, make a plan, and get some accountability on it. That’s excellence.
Strive towards godliness, knowing that you don’t have to earn the presence of God, His love, nor his salvation. Those are yours because you are God’s child! You don’t have to strive for them!
Let excellence be your journey, not your destination. Let God be your destination and excellence be your journey! And may the peace of God rest on you!