Today, I will continue my series about habits. I am introducing habits that we don’t often think of and this week I wanted to talk about the habit of excellence. Excellence is doing the best you can with what you’ve got. The key is to treat what you own and live your life with excellence - make it a lifestyle.
You may have noticed, it is very easy to be a mediocre person. All you have to do is make no extra effort of any kind and drift through life making no difference in the world. But if you will dare to form the habit of being excellent in all that you do, you will be a bright light in the darkness, which is exactly what God has called you to be. God is excellent and we were created in His image. So if we are to reach our full potential in Him, then we also must choose to be excellent.
Excellence is not perfection. I read somewhere that the pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy, but the pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic, and a waste of time. There’s a big difference. Striving for perfection can make you feel like a failure and actually, procrastination can result from being a perfectionist. Fear of falling below the expectations of people paralyzes progress. Do your best and trust God to do the rest. God wants us to always grow and make progress, but He is never angry with us because we have not yet arrived.
To be excellent means to do a little more than you might have to do to get by. When we compromise, it means that we do less than we know is right or proper. Go the extra mile, but don’t take on more than you should in order to properly do what you’ve committed to. Making the commitment to be habitually excellent and following through on your commitments will be very rewarding. Pursuing excellence won’t be easy at first, but eventually it will become a habit.
Develop a system to pursue excellence. I suggest making five signs that simply say “excellence” and put them in places where you’ll see them several times a day. I also believe strongly in the power of verbal confession to help you form a new image of yourself. Try saying these things out loud daily, even multiple times a day. “I do what I do with excellence.” Then expand your confession. “I am an excellent person. I do my work with excellence. I take excellent care of myself and all that I own. I treat people excellently. I think excellent thoughts and I speak excellent words.”
The confessions that you make, which may be totally by faith in the beginning, will help you to remember to do things with excellence and also change how you see yourself. Once you see yourself as being excellent, it will not be a struggle to do what you do with excellence. Remember, habits are developed through repetition, so when you form the habit of excellence it will help you break the habit of mediocrity.
We know in our hearts if we are truly doing the best that we can do, if we are giving it our all. If we are not, then we should make a decision to adjust and move toward excellence. Let’s always do our best not just for significance or praise from others or for worldly promotion, but let’s do all that we can do to glorify God and live an excellent life for Him. I believe He will reward us for our excellence.
The excellence lifestyle starts small, right where you are. Put things back where you got them. Return the grocery cart to its spot in the parking lot. Pick up the trash on the floor. Excellence is a lifestyle… and I believe it’s part of a godly lifestyle.
I could keep adding to that list but I think you get the point that I’m trying to make. We will never get where we want to be unless we truthfully admit where we are right now. Start making the choices and facing the truth and the truth will set you free.
When we are excellent we feel better about ourselves. I found the reward of excellence is peace, peace I receive when I make an effort to do things the way they should be done and don’t compromise to do less than I know is right.
Actions follow what we think, so we must first become excellent in our thoughts. “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8 NLT). “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7 AMPC). What kind of thoughts do you entertain? When you recognize that your thoughts are not good, do you take action to cast them out of your mind or do you just lazily let them remain? It is impossible to become an excellent person without first developing an excellent mind. Thoughts are the first line of defense and we must deal with them. Our mind and thoughts belong to us and we should not allow the devil to use them as a garbage dump.
Just as we can direct our thoughts, we can also direct our words with God‘s help. The power of life and death are in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Our words affect us and the people around us. They also affect what God is able to do for us. We cannot have a negative mouth and end up with a positive life. The apostle Peter teaches us in I Peter 3:10, that if we want to enjoy life and see good days even in the midst of trials we must keep our tongue free from evil. Change your words and you can change your life.
It’s also important that we treat all people excellently. God loves all people and does not take it kindly when we mistreat them. Be polite, respectful, and appreciative. Be encouraging. Everyone in the world wants to feel valuable and many are struggling with feelings of low self-esteem. We are in a position to be used by God to help them by treating each one with excellence. Be an oasis of love. “But earnestly desire and zealously cultivate the greatest and best gifts and graces (the higher gifts and the choicest graces). And yet I will show you a still more excellent way [one that is better by far and the highest of them all–love]” (1 Corinthians 12:31 AMPC).
Love is the most excellent way of all.