”Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24
One of the beautiful things about life with Jesus is that it connects everything we do to an eternal purpose. Nothing in life has to be mundane or meaningless anymore; everything can be imbued with lasting significance. You’re not working for your wife, your kids, your boss, or your pastor. Not really. Whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it all for the Lord. In Colossians 3, the apostle Paul speaks of the eternal reward that comes from a life of serving Jesus. That’s what we’re living for.
But the rewards of serving Jesus aren’t limited to the next life. Working with all your heart yields great rewards in this life. Our spiritual perspective leads to all kinds of practical results. What this text evokes for me is a spirit of excellence. This is not the type of person who does some things well. It is someone who brings their best to everything they do. A spirit of excellence is a distinguishing factor in life. Everyone works. Not everyone works with all their heart. The man or woman with an excellent spirit will see doors open for them in every area of their lives.
We have a spirit of excellence because we serve an excellent God. He does all things well. But, as an added bonus, let me show you five things excellence does in your life.
1. Excellence Attracts
Excellence is attractive, because people are naturally drawn to great things. When you go to a restaurant, you don’t ask, What’s average here? You don’t go to a theater to see the latest mediocre movie. You don’t go shopping looking for something that works. The best thing is what attracts us most. We may disagree on what is best, but we all agree that the best is what we’re going for. If you can be excellent—personally, professionally, organizationally—you will be attractive. You will set yourself apart from the average. But it’s got to be in your spirit. You can fake excellence for a moment, but eventually the truth will out. The goal is not to project excellence, it is to be excellent.
2. Excellence Builds Trust
Excellence builds trust, because it answers questions before people ask them. When parents come into our church, they are wondering, Is this location safe? Is it clean? Is it organized? Excellence answers all of those questions before they have the chance to ask them. It closes the gap of uncertainty. Trust is a powerful cultural currency, and excellence is one of the best ways to build it. If you don’t have trust on your team, you don’t have a team. The consistency of excellence creates confidence and establishes trust.
3. Excellence Makes You Memorable
If you want to be unforgettable, be exceptional. You don’t set yourself apart by meeting the bare minimum. Best practices can serve as good guideposts for us, but imitating the behaviors of others will often lead you to mediocrity. Someone established the best practice. And they didn’t establish it by doing what everyone else was doing, or what everyone else used to do. They brought the full weight of their creativity and effort to the table and created something lasting. I want to create a lasting impact. I want to be memorable. I want our church to be memorable. Often it’s the little things that make a big impression. Excellence will make you memorable.
4. Excellence Raises The Standard
Excellence shows people around you what is possible. In my life, it has often been my exposure to something great that has given me vision for the future. When you encounter something that exceeds expectations and defies the norm, you are called up to a higher level of thinking. The standard is raised. A once-in-a-lifetime performance will set the bar for everything that comes after it. An unbelievable meal will render the alternatives bland by contrast. What are you doing to the standards in your life and work? Are you lowering the standard? Are you maintaining the standard? Or are you raising the standard?
5. Excellence Produces Inner Satisfaction
There are few things more rewarding than knowing you have done good work. From the beginning, God wired us to work. Work is not a punishment, it is part of God’s plan for us. Before Adam was cursed, God put him to work. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). Excellence is just a word for doing good work. To be excellent is to work well. And, because work is part of our identity as human beings, excellence is incredibly rewarding. It attracts others, makes us memorable, raises the standard, and, perhaps most significantly, produces inner satisfaction.
“Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings…” Proverbs 22:29
Excellence isn’t having everything, it’s putting everything you have to work. It isn’t having the most, it’s doing the most with what you have. We see it in Jesus’ parable of the talents. Not everyone has the same amount, but those who multiplied received the same reward. God is into multiplication. But he won’t multiply what you fail to maximize. Rather than ask him for more, why not look for every opportunity you have to draw more out of what you have already been given? That’s the kind of spirit that gets God’s attention.