Excellence Where You Are
Next to them Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs. Next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, made repairs, and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. (Nehemiah 3:8)
Sometimes, God’s desire for us is to do our very best even though we don’t quite fit the job. When Nehemiah went back to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of the city and restore divinity to God’s people, the place was in terrible shape. His job looked hopeless, but Nehemiah believed God could do the impossible. He rallied the people and put them to work carrying stones, framing doors, and defending one another from attacks.
Through the chapters of Nehemiah’s story, we find people pitching in where they were needed. They didn’t ask HR to fit them perfectly to their job, they just rolled up their sleeves and went to work. Uzziel was a master goldsmith, but when he was asked to carry huge rocks, he never complained. He just worked. Next to him, Hananiah carried stones too. This guy’s regular work was making perfume, not slinging mortar, swinging a hammer, or lugging rocks! But he worked hard next to the goldsmith.
Perhaps those around you complain when their work doesn’t perfectly match their skills. Don’t let their attitude poison you. Instead, roll up your sleeves and do whatever it takes to get the job done. You’ll win the trust of your boss and the respect of your peers- you might even enjoy it! When you do more than you’ll be paid to do, you’ll be paid more for what you do.
Some people have greatness thrust upon them. 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 W. Gardner
Many people give their entire lives to a career that gives them in return not only benefits such as salary or other material remuneration it also a fulfillment of purpose. For some, their job is just that- a means of income and they only give effort enough to get by.
The Bible teaches Christians to consider everything they do as working for God- whether in the secular or the religious community.
Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [greatest] reward. It is the Lord Christ whom you [actually] serve.
In every field, whether secular or sacred we are called to excellence motivated by the fact that ultimately our work reflects our relationship with God. Mediocrity isn’t a word in Gods vocabulary. Everything that He does is excellent. All that He has created is excellent. The psalmist says, “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth. Sometimes even in our work specifically for God, we only give token effort. But when we see that all we do is in truth work for God it ought to move us to our best work. Those who know me know that I strongly believe that whatever we do, especially what we do for God ought to be our best.
Sometimes the need of ministry calls us to work in an area of ministry that isn’t our preferred place. Sometimes it seems that the area we really want to work in doesn’t seem to open up to us. In both cases, we must choose whether we will give our best or just muddle through until something better comes along. Some will do nothing unless it’s their dream job or position. So what if we begin a revolution in the church. What if we sought out opportunities to work instead of waiting to be asked? What if we gave the church and God the very best of our abilities, talents, and skills? What if with whatever we do, we do it with all our being, not begrudgingly but with joy? What if we were willing to do the small tasks, the unnoticed things, the behind the scenes assignments that no one notices even if we’re not ever recognized for them? What if in whatever we do, we give the time, energy, and preparation necessary to produce an excellent outcome. What if we served God with our whole heart, soul, and mind?
The Bible tells us that one day we will stand before God and all our work will be judged. At this place, we won’t be judged for our sin or mistakes or failures for they have already been judged and nailed to the cross if you are a Christian. But what we have done with our new life after being born again will be tested in the holy fire of God.
For we are God’s fellow workers [His servants working together]; you are God’s cultivated field [His garden, His vineyard], God’s building. According to the [remarkable] grace of God which was given to me [to prepare me for my task], like a skillful master builder I laid a foundation, and now another is building on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one which is [already] laid, which is Jesus Christ. But if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will be clearly shown [for what it is]; for the day [of judgment] will disclose it, because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality and character and worth of each person’s work. If any person’s work which he has built [on this foundation, that is, any outcome of his effort] remains [and survives this test], he will receive a reward. But if any person’s work is burned up [by the test], he will suffer the loss [of his reward]; yet he himself will be saved, but only as [one who has barely escaped] through fire.
1 Corinthians 3:9-15
So whatever we do, large or small, let us do so with excellence for anything worth doing is worth doing well.
Dr. John Thompson