Thank you to Miles Welch for giving us permission to repost his blog article. Miles writes excellent, insightful articles in his blog called Developing Next Generation Leaders. You can find it at: mileswelch.com. Miles has served the local church as a pastor and leader for 20 years, and has been at 12Stone Church (Lawrenceville, GA) https://12stone.com/ since 2001.
A commitment to excellence is not a leadership quality or ministry skill. It is a deeper, core issue. Excellence is a character issue; it is about the type of person you are and want to become. When we read what Paul wrote in Colossians 3:17 we understand excellence is also a spiritual issue. Check it out: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
1. You get to choose your level of excellence.
Consider all the things you do not get to choose in your life; your intelligence, your gifting, your gender. These things are all important but the quality of your life is more determined by the level of excellence you choose than all the things you do not get to choose. Humble excellence will always elevate you to high places.
- Proverbs 22:29 Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.
- The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor. –Vincent T. Lombardi
2. You have to keep choosing excellence.
In every project you have as a leader there is a moment when it is “good enough.” This is the moment when can stop working because the project is done. This is also the moment when you decide if you value excellence. People chase excellence when good enough is no longer good enough. No real excuses for anything less than excellence.
- It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it. — Somerset Maugham
3. Choose excellence in small things when no one is looking.
You can and should be excellent at whatever it is you are doing, however small, however insignificant. Your private level of excellence will go public.
- The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water. — John Gardner
4. Excellence is not perfection.
Perfection means without any error. It is an unrealistic pursuit. If you chase perfection you will be frustrated. Excellent on the other hand is doing the best you can with what you have. Sometimes the pursuit of excellence gives you a moment of perfection, but not often.
- The pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy. The pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic, and a terrible waste of time.” — Edwin Bliss
5. The pursuit of excellence is a process.
Excellence involves growing in skills, capacity, knowledge and wisdom. As you grow the bar of excellence rises. Leaders who lead with excellence year after year have an internal hunger to exceed themselves.
- Some people have greatness thrust upon them. Very few have excellence thrust upon them, they achieve it. They do not achieve it unwittingly by ‘doing what comes naturally’ and they don’t stumble into it in the course of amusing themselves. All excellence involves discipline and tenacity of purpose. John Gardner
6. Authenticity is no excuse for a lack of excellence.
All of us desire to live from a place of deep purpose and authentic joy. Some choose to excuse a lack of excellence with their authenticity. The truth is we only find our authentic purpose and joy as we chase excellence.
- Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way. — Booker T. Washington