Serving with Excellence
Have you ever shown up for a church service or community event and thought, “I wonder if they put the elementary students in charge of planning this thing?” There’s nothing worse than being prepared to enter into the presence of God – only to see the screen go black, the instruments hit wrong chords, the singers sing wrong words, and this is all mixed with a look of confusion on everyones’ faces. You can’t help but be distracted in those situations, and why? Why do things fall apart? They fall apart many times because of a lack of excellence.
I figure this is a great time to write about this, because this weekend’s services went smoothly from beginning to end.
1 Corinthians 15:58. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
What exactly does that mean?
Excellence is far above normal. Excellence is high in quality! Excellence can apply to any topic or area of service. It’s not limited to any certain area. Unfortunately, in the Church, we often forget to serve with excellence. We tend to start in that place and even get back there on occasion; however, we usually spend most of our time just doing what we need to get by. How sad! I can think of tons of examples from my personal and church life where I have failed to be excellent – times when I’ve procrastinated and done things just good enough to not get in trouble. On the other hand, excellence is not perfectionism! Excellence is doing things to the best of your natural ability plus just a little bit more. It doesn’t require us to over analyze and over examine everything we see or do, but it does require us to be mindful of the impact our actions have on others. Jesus told us to walk the extra mile and give our jacket when they ask for just our shirt.
Colossians 3:23. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
So what’s the harm?
Typically it’s never big or obvious, but over time, doing things half-way will produce disastrous results. Most people don’t lose jobs because of one bad action, they lose jobs for continually being lazy. People who come visit our church on a weekend may never see anything that’s a “big deal,” but they’ll overhear someone talking about someone else. They’ll pick up their baby with a dirty diaper. They’ll notice breaks in the flow of the service, and they won’t know exactly why they don’t want to be a part, they just don’t.
So how do I do it?
Chelsea and I used to be terrible about coming into a worship set and picking out songs right before it was time to start. It always went okay, but that was it….it was just okay. Worship at UC requires time: Every musicians has a CD of songs that are “on rotation.” We decide by Monday what songs will be in the set for the weekend. I email the songs as well as any notes for the weekend to the band and vocalists. By Wednesday afternoon, everything is charted (sometimes that’s a short process and sometimes it’s a really, really long process). We have a 2 hour rehearsal/group on Thursday nights. On Fridays, I type the words for Keynote and run through transitions. On Saturday, most of the band is there to setup their equipment from 7PM to 9PM. Sunday morning, rehearsal starts at 6AM. All of that for one reason – to ensure excellence!
You don’t wait for motivation or some radical experience to move you to excellence – you begin to take steps right where you are. If you’re in the band, are you practicing your music between rehearsals? If you’re teaching children, do you prepare your lesson before the day-of? If you lead a connect group, how much time are you putting into preparation? Do you work like you’re working unto the Lord?
I Corinthians 3 says this:
12If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
When I stand before the Lord, I want him to bless the work I have done. NO! IT’S NOT JUST BECAUSE WE”RE IN FRONT OF PEOPLE! If you’re cleaning the bathrooms, do it with excellence. If you’re greeting people, do it with excellence. Whatever area you serve in, come prepared! If all of us came prepared and with a paradigm (mind set) of working with excellence, what a difference it would make to everyone who walked through the doors.
Excellence will require time – time to prepare and time to meet with the One who prepares the way. It will require you to reevaluate your priorities and drop the things that aren’t a part of your calling. Ask yourself, ” If I only had time to prepare for a couple of things with excellence, what two things would I focus on?” Then begin to narrow down the things in your life that you’re doing half-way and focus your energies on what you’ve been called to do.
Here’s the thing about excellence: it attracts excellence. At the beginning, lazy folks are always going to resist a change to excellence, but in the long run, excellence spreads. Excellence attracts excellence! Whenever we take the level of quality up in our area of ministry, people will want to be a part.
So, what’s your part? What are you doing that you’re only giving what you must to get by? Are you a survivalist or are you more than a conqueror? Are you hurting the image of Jesus Christ and His bride by your unwillingness to go the extra mile? Repent and be excellent.