Excellence – The quality of being outstanding, or extremely good.
Perfection -- The condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.
We can be outstanding. Only God can be flawless.
I grew up on a farm. My dad was a hog farmer and my mom had the job of being the manager of our home. At an early age, I was taught how to assist in the management of our home as well as the hog business.
My mom and dad were strong believers in when you do something, do it right. One memory I have of this is Dad teaching me how to mow the lawn. Dad would sit on the mower with me right beside him. He would teach with each turn of the mower how to run it and how to make sure each path was straight and each corner squared off to make the lawn look precise.
After many passes with the mower, I would tell Dad, “Ok, I’ve got it.” Yet Dad would continue mowing and teaching. Before I knew it, the lawn would be mowed, and Dad never got off the mower and never stopped teaching.
Have you ever experienced this with a leader, mentor, or parent? They are not quite ready to give up the control of making sure the project is done just right…to their expectations.
As I think back on this story, and although it is a story that I cherish and makes me smile today, I realize how it has influenced my striving for perfection, not excellence. It has also influenced a fear in me to try new things in case I don’t do them perfectly.
My expectations of what I want life to be can overshadow the good things that are already in front of me. When I went through a divorce as a young mom, one of the biggest hurdles I had to overcome was my expectation for that perfect life, not only for myself but for my children.
I learned through that struggle to remember that all God asks of me is to live the best life I can with what I am given. The point is, we are all given different blessings AND different crosses to bear, which means we can only take care of what's in front of us in that moment and do the best we can…with excellence, not perfection!
Too many people miss the silver lining when they are expecting gold.
When I am faced with a time in life when my perfect plan doesn’t turn out the way I envisioned, I have to remind myself that only God’s plan is perfect. If I am not intentional in opening my eyes and heart, I will miss all the silver linings He has placed on my journey.
When my focus is on living the best life I can with what I have in that moment, I will find my silver lining. I'm not looking for the gold that I think I should have. I'm looking at the silver right in front of me and saying thank you every day.
I also know I can't just apply this to my own life…I have to apply it to the people in my life as well. If I am really allowing the people around me to live the best life they can with what they are given, I can't put my own conditions on them. Some people have been given more of a capacity for compassion, some for actions, some for being loving. I have to trust that people are doing the best they can; so instead of expecting gold from every person in every situation, I can be thankful for the silver lining they inevitably bring to my life in other ways.
"But as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you – see that you excel in this act of grace also."
2 Corinthians 8:7 (ESV)
With love and joy,