“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might…” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
By definition, virtue is not innate. Virtue comes from behavior, and excellence in behavior is a beneficial and necessary virtue for all fathers who desire to see their posterity follow God.
Excellence is a choice. It is a mindset, a process. It is available to all, but only cultivated by some. It is obtained by dedicated purpose over time. It is acquired through life experience and the testing of our faith (James 1:3-5).
A casual perusal of the life of King Solomon reveals certain personal choices that were anything but excellent. As a matter of fact, those poor choices cost him his throne and split the kingdom for hundreds of years.
But in other areas, Solomon understood the need for excellence. Take, for example, the great expansion and power of the Israelite army. That might was a warning to other nations. It brought peace to the country.
Who could forget his building of the Temple, that great masterpiece of architecture, which stood for over 400 years after it was built? To accomplish such a task, Solomon knew that he needed workers who were committed to excellence in workmanship. Truly, Solomon understood that to achieve great things in life one must strive for excellence. When he penned the words in our text verse above, he intended to convey the importance of “giving it your all” in life.
As a lover of sports, I often hear the phrase, “Leave it all on the field.” In other words, “Play the entire game with every ounce of your strength. At the end, win or lose, you’ll know that you gave your best.” This is how all Christians should approach all of life, especially in their service and devotion to God, and in the example they set for others.
Excellence starts with humility. One writer said: “A proud man will hide his inadequacies, but a humble man will expose them and seek to excel in his weakness through the perfection of Christ.” A person cannot rise to higher planes of greatness without first seeing the limitations that is holding him back. Humility is absolutely necessary for excellence.
Consistency is also necessary for excellence. Obtaining excellence in character does not happen by displaying it sporadically. It comes from daily application in every area of life.
It has been said that what we allow will continue. We can be encouraged that if we practice a constant commitment to excellence, it will become part of our very character. If we consistently “give it all” in everything we undertake, we will end up with that “good name” that is rather to be chosen than great riches (Proverbs 22:1).
Excellence brings blessings. It is contagious. Our children are watching us. If we display an excellence in character in all we do, our children will learn that excellence is the standard by which life should be lived, and, hopefully, will choose to live by that example.
Excellence brings promotion. Proverbs 22:29 says: “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.” Diligence and excellence go hand in hand. Discerning people recognize the value in an excellent spirit and will seek to employ those who possess it.
Excellence plays a very important role in our home. In our minds, it undergirds everything we do. You might be tempted to ask, “Shouldn’t Christianity undergird everything you do?” The answer is yes. But my wife and I believe that wherever true biblical Christianity is on display, excellence will be a part of the equation. It cannot be otherwise. The Lord Jesus Christ lived an exemplary life. All that he did was done with excellence and purpose. He is our example.
The pursuit of excellence is a lifelong pursuit that, at times, can be challenging to accomplish. It requires mental toughness and purposed commitment, but is absolutely worth it. It bears valuable and lasting fruit. Vince Lombardi, the legendary football coach, said: “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.” Wise words indeed!
To Think and Pray About…
- Excellence is a wonderful quality to demonstrate, and it only becomes evident as you apply yourself consistently to the various disciplines of life.
- Review two or three areas in which Solomon showed a commitment to long-term excellence.
- What is the relationship between humility and excellence, and how could you show this in a natural way in your parenting?
This chapter was written by Paul Miller.
This chapter is taken from The Extraordinary Father. CLICK HERE for more information.