Last Friday Gary and I saw the opening night performance of "Dancing at Lughnasa" at Northwestern College. Our son Blake plays "Father Jack" alongside seven other talented actors.
He was nervous, we were nervous. Had they practiced enough? How would they do?
They did just fine. We enjoyed the play so much, especially because it was fun to see Blake shine.
As I looked at the back of our program later, I realized why we could enjoy it so much.
I think it all comes down to this line: "...excellence honors God."
Blake and the other actors, as well as everyone involved behind the scenes, worked hard to make sure they were presenting the very best performance they could.
I've been thinking about this all week. I realize that I haven't been honoring God with excellence in many areas of my life.
When I play the keyboard for worship I often don't take the time to practice enough and it sounds pretty rough on Sunday morning.
I often wait until just before our Fresh Hope support group to pick a topic and decide what we're going to talk about that night.
I usually look at my Sunday School lesson on Saturday and then finish getting ready to teach on Sunday morning.
I write my blog posts at ten p.m. on Friday nights instead of starting earlier in the week.
Now, these things are understandable if I've had a busy week and can't find the time, but usually I have plenty of time and I just put them off.
What's the big deal? People understand when I goof up on the songs, they aren't upset. My friends at Fresh Hope don't mind when we just chat about something unstructured. The kids in Sunday School seem to enjoy the lesson and learn something. People usually like my blog posts even though I write them so late.
The big deal is that I'm not honoring God when I put off all of these things and do a mediocre job.
I think of my friend Nancy and how she would often talk about doing things with excellence when she directed our handbell choir back in Chandler, Minnesota. She made us keep practicing until we could play a song well. It felt good to do our best and bless our listeners with an excellent performance.
I feel myself being called to focus more on excellence in the things I'm doing.
To practice until I can play confidently.
To spend some time preparing for our Fresh Hope discussions.
To start my Sunday School lesson early in the week so I have time to prepare those special activities or crafts that the kids love so much.
To spend a little more time on my blog posts and make sure they are the best they can be for my readers.
Of course, there's grace. We are all going to make mistakes and fail sometimes, even when we take time to prepare. God loves us and people will usually be understanding.
Oh, but just think of how much it can honor God and point others to Him when we take the time to do things with excellence.
"But since you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you--see that you also excel in this grace of giving." (2 Corinthians 8:7 NIV)
Do you strive for excellence in all that you do, or do you settle for mediocre? How can focusing on God help you to do your best and honor Him?