Excellence? Part 2

January 9, 2008 at 11:50 am 2 comments

Fountain Hills, Arizona

Yesterday was our day to drive into Young, Arizona, a little mountain town north of where we are parked.  It is about 115 miles one way and the last 16 are on an unpaved road that was recently plowed of new snow and now, very muddy.  I probably didn’t need to drive with the truck in 4 wheel drive but it made it easier.  It was colder when we came out so it wasn’t so muddy. This is a very isolated community one very few people even know exists.

Going to Young was a good time to think about this subject of excellence that I started writing about yesterday.  Let me tell you a little about this tiny church as it relates to this subject.  The church has no building and meets in a run down community center.  The leader is a young man with little or no formal education and certainly no Bible or Seminary training.  There are no worship leaders, I led worship just so there would be some exposure to what worship is and it’s value to them.  (anyone who has heard me play guitar knows we missed excellence by some distance) The church has no mission, vision or purpose statement.  They know nothing of church growth paradigms, power points or powerful preaching.  So if it wasn’t excellent, and I assure you it wasn’t, was it not worth doing?

Yesterday I tried to communicate what I thought was wrong with excellence, (find it here) as the goal for church life and mininstry. Here is what comes to mind as some alternatives to a relentless and fruitless pursuit of excellence. 

Operate from approval rather than for approval.  I think it was Kris Vallotton I heard say this and it makes a lot of sense.  If I do what I do in order to feel valued and worthy, it doesn’t matter how good what I do is, it is all just rags.  However, if what I do in my life flows out of a solid conviction that I already have my Father’s approval then whatever we do, whether it is average or excellent will bring the Father glory.

Serve with patience not driveness.  It is fine to have goals and to pursue them but learn to be okay with not meeting them as quickly as we might plan.  Just because some other church, ministry or business doubled in size in six months doesn’t mean if our’s doesn’t, we are failures.  There is  something that makes me suspicious about rapid growth.  A wise person said, the only thing that grows fast in my garden is weeds. Being driven to accomplish goals often ends up producing something that looks excellent but the excellence often lacks substance and depth.  Be patient.

Go back to where you lost your peace. If your pursuit of excellence leaves you at peace, blessed, calm and enjoying life and enjoying the people around you, then your pursuit is probably honoring the Father and blessing those you serve or work with.  However if you are constantly stressed, anxious, angry, frustrated and hard to get along with, then whatever you produce from that place, while it might be excellent, is not honoring.  Go back to where you lost your peace in the process and start over.  Then whatever is accomplished, even excellence, will be a whole lot more fun and I suspect a whole lot more honoring to the Father.

Be inclusive not exclusive. We must find ways to do ministry and all of life, for that matter, with people of average intelligence and ability.  Why?  Because most of us are just that, average.  One thing I really appreciate about our church in Sayre is there is little superstar attitude around.  Our pastor is a gifted and capable man but he isn’t a superstar nor does he aspire to be one.  That attitude permeates the culture of the Family.  It is inclusive rather than exclusive and invites average people to be part of what the Father is doing.

Realize it isn’t all about you. I tell anyone who will listen these days that the key to life in ministry and anywhere else is coming to the realization that it isn’t all about you.  It seems so many of us born since 1945 have the attitude that the world revolves around us and that we are somehow deserving of the very best just because we are breathing.  That attitude is what drives the pursuit of excellence.  I hear it said all the time; “we want to do this with excellence so God can get the glory.”  I suppose many are genuinely concerned with giving God glory but often it is a fear of failure and the need to look good doing what we do that drives us to pursue the unattainable. 

What happened in Young, Arizona last night fell very short of any measure of excellence, but I am certain the Father was pleased with what we did because the focus was not on how we were doing but on what we were doing.  What we were doing was encouraging and supporting some folks to enjoy a relationship with the Father and a relationship with each other and in spite of the less than excellent worship leader (I had a good time playing and singing, by the way) and the less than excellent facilities etc. people were catching a vision of a Father and a Family that could reach their community and enhance their lives. 

Any thoughts?  I would love to hear them.

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Entry filed under: Authority, Belief, Christianity, Culture, Faith, Friendship, Institutional church, Jesus, Kingdom, The Father, Thoughts, Travel.

Excellence? Monday morning meanderings. Vol.27

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anonymous  |  January 10, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Anonymous says,
    I Agree with what you said about what really is excellence in God’s eyes.
    We used to go to a large church where you had to be of “higher” caliber to do ministry. We now go to a small church where my husband and son are on the worship team- not because they are “perfect” but because the Lord can use them just the way they are.
    It is all about the heart. God knows the heart and our motivations.
    Thanks for sharing your “heart”.

  • 2. Dennis  |  January 9, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Love your thoughts on excellence.
    What is excellence in God’s eyes?
    Usually heart and attitude stuff I’d guess.
    Giving it your best effort, not being a quitter, faithfulness in low times.
    In the USA it seems excellence has to do with quality equipment, nice buildings, and good administration.
    In poor countries with poor churches there is little of the above. However, they preach the gospel, pray for miracles, and plant churches.
    For 2,000 yrs. this has produced fruit and will continue to, with or without the stuff of American excelllence.

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