I have been thinking lately about excellence. Not just at work, but in every area of my life — as a Christian, husband, father, friend, volunteer, Starbucks customer… Do I truly aspire to excellence in the work I do? In the relationships I have?
I guess this sudden conviction is a result of the convergence of many different coincidental situations, conversations, and readings that ultimately leads one to hear that “still small voice.” Or, in my case it is more like a divine ass-kicking, with God telling me what I should already know by now. Which is a message that says:
“Stop striving. Take a look around at what’s right in front of you, and give it your best. Then, trust God for the outcome.”
I tend to get caught up in “What’s Next.” The next big exciting deal or promotion or position or recognition. It’s like I can’t function without having some huge ambitious goal looming in the horizon, calling out to me, luring, pulling and compelling me towards some “better” future. It’s like a mental illness, really.
I suppose it’s been hard-wired that way for quite a while now, but I’m getting a little older now and God is giving me a very distinct message that says “Whoa, boy. Settle down. Deep breath. Good.”
Quite literally, just like that. “Look.”
And when I stop, and breathe, and look, what I see is this: my wonderful family that I love so desperately; a terrific job with great people; many other wonderful friends that I share community or work with at church or through volunteer committees.It’s not that I have been ignoring or neglecting all of these relationships up to this point, but I wonder if I’ve been fully present. Have I really, honestly been giving them my best? Have I been excellent? Or, have I been thinking more about what I will get out of this? Or, what will this look like on my resume? Or, am I sitting in that meeting thinking, “What am I going to have for dinner tonight?”
I’m constantly trading up, rather than engaging fully, completely, in the moment.
So, I was reading the Psalms yesterday and I came across a verse that I never quite caught on to before. It somehow capped this message that I was getting from God. It’s the last verses of Psalm 60, verses 11 and 12, and it says:
“Give us help from trouble,
For the help of man is useless.
Through God we will do valiantly.”
That word “valiant” seems like a quaint old 14th century middle-English word that doesn’t really belong in a Blog conversation. Certainly not a word we use very often today. But it conjures up in my mind thoughts of bravery, courage, victory, boldness… and excellence.
I decided that instead of driving myself mad scheming about the future, I am going to apply myself, fully, valiantly, with God’s help, towards the things that are in front of me right now. Truthfully, this might mean cutting back on some obligations to do only the few things that I can realistically excel at. It definitely means that I am giving myself more fully to the people and conversations I am having, with a clear focus on their needs and interests, rather than my own.
I am learning that God is the God of now. He wants me to do the best with what is before me, and trust Him for the future outcome.
Through God we will do valiantly.