Avoiding or Pursuing Excellence?

I still remember graduating from college, something that had not been achieved in my immediate family. Something that I didn’t think would be possible due to some circumstances that I faced during my time at college. But I made it! I was so excited on that day to achieve something that I thought was at far reach. Nobody told me that the feeling of accomplishing something would quickly turn into a distant memory soon after I received my diploma. What’s next? I didn’t think about that. My goal was to finish school. I was sure I would get a job offer or something that would launch my career at this point. But I basically found myself driving over 300 miles back to my home town. Wow!

I’ll never forget this bitter sweet moment of feeling like I achieved something and failed at the same time. I couldn’t see any positives from me going to college, at this point. But God had a plan.

For over a month I sat at my mom’s house wondering what I could’ve done better, what relationships I could’ve put more time into, etc. and I told God if He gave me another chance, I wouldn’t take the smallest opportunity for granted.

I would do whatever He put in front of me with a grateful heart and do it to the best of my ability.

WELL…. that’s all He needed to hear. I got a call from a guy I had met through some opportunities at school, that wanted me to come join him in Birmingham to be his right hand man. He didn’t have an actual job for me, but there was an opportunity for me to leave my hometown. At this point, I didn’t care what I was doing as long as I was given a chance to do something. So, one of my responsibilities was to setup around 150 chairs (b/c we were believing for that many people) in a gym for a Wednesday night youth service. I could’ve put the chairs in a simple row and just hung out and shot basketball for hours, but I remembered the promise I made God, so I put everything into making sure those chairs had different patterns every week, and they were neatly placed and stacked when we were done.

Regardless of how long it took me to set up those chairs, it was an opportunity for me to give God my best in the smallest of things.

That was years ago and I can say… I kept my promise to the Lord. It was a great lesson for me, at the time, because He knew what I would be doing in the future.

There’s so many of us that take for granted the situations we are in, whether it’s the leader of a big corporation or a cook in a fast food restaurant.

Are you doing EVERYTHING to the best of your ability, or are you only at your best when all eyes are on you?

My main question is…. are you AVOIDING EXCELLENCE?

It’s easy to AVOID EXCELLENCE and settle for mediocracy behind the scenes, but it will catch up with you in the long run, and that’s not what God has called us to.

Here are a couple of ways to make sure you don’t take this approach to life:

  1. Don’t minimize the small opportunities, maximize every opportunity God puts in front of you.

This will allow you to look at every opportunity through the lens of Colossians 3:23 “whatever you do, do it with your whole heart, as working for the Lord, not for man.”

  1. Don’t let what’s challenging scare you into staying comfortable with where you are;

or let me say it this way…..

Don’t let the challenges of God’s best scare you to settle for something good.

I found in life that it’s the little things that make you better. The big things come when God can trust you with those little things.

CJ BLOUNT: Associate Worship Pastor - Campus Worship Leaders @ Church of the Highlands

The Church: Then vs. Now

Acts 2:44 shows us the authenticity of the early church through the practical ways they loved each other, “…All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved”.

The Christians were serious about something when they started meeting…relationships. Not the, “You buy your coffee, I’ll buy mine. Then, we’ll dream about how good life would be if we really did wake up from a coma and Channing Tatum was our husbands” kind of relationships (Guys just talk about being Channing Tatum). They sold their possessions to take care of the poor and needy in their own neighborhoods. Everyone shared everything. If you have enough, I have enough. If you are hungry, I am hungry. You get the idea.

It’s rare to see churches (And I mean the people) living this lifestyle out today. We can’t seem to get past the struggle of giving “our” ten percent. We walk by the homeless OR someone in our own church who we know can’t pay the bills and we pray for them, “God give them a miracle…(but don’t let that miracle come from me, because that will cost me something).”

Paul writes this in 2 Corinthians 6:11-13:

Dear, Dear <insert your name here>, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life.   We didn’t fence you in.  The smallness you feel comes from within you.  Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way.  I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection.  Open your lives.  Live openly and expansively.

Guys, remember when you used to spend your weeknights playing video games and wondering when the girl of your dreams would finally realize you spending countless hours killing zombies was actually a very admirable thing to do? Girls, remember when your weeknights consisted of mulling over, “Does he like me, doesn’t he like me” and writing blogs about how men aren’t the “men” they’re supposed to be.

That’s the smallness Paul is writing about. The first church understood the cost of following Christ and “loving your neighbor as yourself”. See, many of our biggest problems are what we’re going to wear and how it makes our thighs look. We’re so busy thinking about what pair of shoes we’re going to buy next that we forget our brothers and sisters who don’t know where their next meal is going to come from. I can’t help but look back and be pretty ashamed of my life before Jesus came in and ruined it (in the best of ways).  I look at the life and death of Jesus and now see the beauty of it.  Jesus told us to love God and love people. Commands like that require a response. We see it lived out in Acts

We can live it out now.

- Zach Crider
Worship Leader @ Rez.Church