The Commitment to Excellence

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If we were to hire a contractor to do work in our house and after he was done he said, “Well, I could have done better, but this is good enough,” we would be shocked… at best. If a surgeon were to come to us after operating on us and say, “Well, the procedure could have gone better, but it was good enough for me,” we would be mortified. We place high expectations on the actions of others, and the Bible tells us that God puts a pretty high expectation on us as well.

In the Gospels, Jesus tells us to “be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.”(Matthew 5:48) In other words, settling for “good enough” is not how God wants us to look at our life — *especially* our spiritual life. God wants from us a commitment to excellence.

“Excellence” means “to excel”. God calls us to excel at worship, to excel in outreach and acts of unconditional love, to excel in our spiritual growth, to excel in being heralds of His Kingdom in this world.

If we see our parishes, institutions, organizations and especially our own lives straying away from the goal of excellence, we must make the effort to getting things back on track. This is exactly what is meant by “repentance” — it is a “change of mind” or “change of direction” away from life-taking attitudes and behaviors and towards the life-giving Way of Christ.

One thing to be aware of in the commitment to excellence is the fine line between a sincere struggle to “be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect” and the fall into pride and vainglory. Our commitment to excellence is not for the sake of basking in glory. We struggle to excel in our lives because God deserves nothing less from us. As we pursue the commitment to excellence we do so in humility, knowing that success comes not from our own efforts alone, but with the grace of God who give us strength, wisdom and courage. St. Paul says “it is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me”(Galatians 2:20) In reality, it is not our perfection that we achieve in the commitment to excellence, but the perfection of God that we partake of through our sincere, prayerful effort.

When it comes to the health and well-being of our souls, “good enough” is not good enough at all. Playing small does not serve anyone. It is the devil who asks us, “Who do you think you are reaching so high?” Our commitment is to growth in a humble excellence, which is not self-centered, but God-centered — rooted in God’s strength and reflecting His glory which exists as a  potential in each one of us.