A niece who was constantly receiving A+s in high school changed, saying, ‘Everyone else doesn’t study anyway.’
Excellence means hard work which everyone hates. We may give only the minimum of effort or simply get by with mediocre performance. Is mediocrity the new work-culture today? Are magnanimity and excellence becoming mere ideals? Rick Warren writes, ‘We’re living in a culture of mediocrity.’
My niece, like her classmates, looks for the entertainment value in what they do. Similarly, preachers who entertain are well liked by their audience. Notice here the ‘one-way’ direction of people’s value system. The arrow points inward, to self-interest. Similarly, some politicians and businessmen ask, “what’s in it for me?” Self-interest, cutting corners and dishonesty seem normal practice.
What about – walking an extra mile. Sincere friendship. Giving more than what’s demanded. Corporate social responsibility. Seminar courses to learn human relations skills. Many would reply, “I don’t have time for these.”. But these are what makes leaders excellent.
Notice: People who have excellent attitude seem to get all the good breaks more than those who do not. Why? Because they make people feel happy. See the different, two-way direction of excellent attitude. Clearly, making people happy makes yourself happy as well. But excellence must come from the heart, manifesting naturally and habitually.
Passion is what drives people to do what they do excellently. Because mere play-acting is very stressful, you’d probably arrive home every night dead-tired. You see, it isn’t about technique or self-motivation. It’s an attitude.
Excellent attitude influences our response or ‘good behavior.’ Is it natural? No, because human nature is prone to mistakes, hence there’s negative or crippling attitude. No effort is required to remain mediocre. However, like knowledge, excellent attitude must be learned – as in attending formation talks* – to remove debilitating attitude and change from what I am into what I want to become.
So why pursue excellence? Because humans crave to be appreciated. We work hard for happy reasons: to gain human dignity, respect, wealth and prestige.
Theologically, pursuing excellence in ordinary work is man’s response to God’s call for sanctity. (Seek ye be holy, because I your God am holy.) By working for ‘love of God’, we perfect our character by the virtues we practice, becoming even rich and powerful. More than that, working excellently makes us become holy.
That’s what we mean when we say, “Seek God first.” That we pursue professional excellence for God’s glory, instead of self-interest, money or power. We know that. We can worship God by offering Him our excellent jobs, not the failures due to our willful mediocrity. What happens next is – “and all things will be added unto you.” Yes, begin experiencing abundance, receive grace because work becomes worship-prayer, and inspire others to see and follow God through our work. This is why we pursue excellence.
(Note: *formation talks include BCBP Breakfast, CLP (Christian Life Program), BCMR (Marriage Retreat), BCBR (Businessmen’s Retreat), and FEW (Family Encounter Weekend)