If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. As Paul put it in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (NLT) If we’re representing God, we should do things well for His glory.
At the same time, excellence shouldn’t be exalted above some other values that really outrank it. In the pursuit of excellence, remember these five guiding principles.
We do things with excellence for God’s glory.
If you’re trying to do your best to impress guests or fellow ministry leaders, your heart is already in the wrong place. Excellence is something we strive for in order to bring glory to God. Or to put it another way, we perform with excellence for an audience of One, so that ultimately, He gets all the credit.
We refuse to make an idol of excellence.
Excellence is not the goal. Changed lives are the goal, and excellence merely describes the way we try to achieve the goal. Don’t miss the active and mighty hand of God in the name of excellence.
We refuse to allow the pursuit of excellence to hold us back.
Solomon said, “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.” (Ecclesiastes 11:4 NLT) We have a lot to learn from successful bootstrapping entrepreneurs who dive into new ventures before having all the details figured out. Seth Godin often says, “Ship it. Perfect the product later.” That’s a good word for church leaders, too.
We will learn from models, valuing effectiveness over originality.
Vance Havner once talked about a young man who came to him and boldly declared, “I’m going to be original, or nothing!” To this, Havner replied, “Then you’ll probably wind up being both.” Originality isn’t the goal—changed lives are the goal. In fact, nothing is original unless God is Creator of it. The most creative people I know are those who are always being inspired by existing models and are building on the foundation laid by others.
We will be a model, sharing our excellence with others.
Everyone needs to be mentoring someone, and every church can serve as a model to another church. It doesn’t do much good for a church of 150 people to try to learn only from megachurches. You need to be learning from people just ahead of you, and you need to be mentoring those just behind you. Whatever we learn, it’s free for all for the benefit of the Kingdom.
Excellence is a worthy pursuit, but it’s not really the target. Jesus chose a rag-tag bunch of rough-cut fellows to be His disciples. He led them on a journey in which He often didn’t have a place to lay His head. They fed enormous crowds from lunch scraps. Never allow a lack of resources to become an excuse that deters you from doing the very best you can with what you have, and never let the pursuit of excellence stop you from pursuing God and pursuing souls for His sake.