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Did Jesus Emphasize Excellence?

Today is my son’s 32nd birthday. He is a person of excellence – he doesn’t cut corners. How about you? Are you a person who works to “good enough” or do you work to excellence? Are you known for high standards? What would Jesus say? 21 years ago, seeing some trends in short-term missions, I help…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Today is my son’s 32nd birthday. He is a person of excellence – he doesn’t cut corners. How about you? Are you a person who works to “good enough” or do you work to excellence? Are you known for high standards? What would Jesus say?

21 years ago, seeing some trends in short-term missions, I helped start an association to establish excellence in missions called SOE.org. What has amazed me since is how many short-cuts many people take. They don’t like having to make plans way in advance. They love people and would rather just show up and figure it out.

Excellence, by it’s nature, exists only at the margins. “Average” is normal. A lot of people shamble through life and are OK with average. Just 3% of people operate out of a vision for their life. The rest just react. 

Who doesn’t enjoy a nice dinner out? Where the atmosphere is perfect, the food is delectable, and the service is solicitous? That restaurant experience doesn’t just happen by accident – somebody had a vision and hired people who could implement it, and then worked until reality matched what they saw in their minds eye.

I just got an email from a friend. I had encouraged him in a goal. His response was, “Thanks, I’ll do my best.” 

And you know what, I believe he probably will. Because this is a guy who does things with excellence. If he tells you he’ll do a job, he will. He has high standards and usually he meets or exceeds them. My friend has acquired an appetite for delivering excellence. He understands that excellence is giving God your best.

Did Jesus Emphasize Excellence?

Paul tells the Corinthians that he will show them “a more excellent way” – the way of love without limits.

Did Jesus emphasize excellence? I would argue yes. He said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matt. 22:14) That implies some kind of accountability for your life.

He talked about a narrow path that only a few walk on.

Jesus talked a lot about stewardship. He said, “Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!” (Luke 12:48)

The writer of Hebrews tells us that “He obtained a more excellent ministry…also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.” (Heb. 8:6)

It’s interesting here at Adventures (the ministry where I work). Everyone on staff has got a heart for ministry and care about people. But they express it in different ways. Those engaged in discipling others express it in the time they invest in others. While some of our more administrative teams might express it in the way they organize their work. My hope is that wherever they are, whatever their giftings, that they consistently do excellent work – working “as unto the Lord.” (Col. 3:23)

You and Excellence

Excellence doesn’t happen by accident. If we were to look at your life and ministry, what would we find? What does your boss say about you? Do you have the courage to ask her?

Maybe you have reasons you don’t want to give your best. I can relate. At times I’ve felt so poorly about the way I’ve led.I’ve been disappointed in my own performance and wanted to call it quits because I felt unappreciated and often under attack. Organizations I’ve led have lost money and hurt people. There’s a list of people who are bitter towards me. Maybe I’ve disappointed you. 

But I didn’t let my feelings get in the way of my call to do my best work. I was committed to serve God with my life, and if it didn’t feel good, I didn’t quit. If I had a bad day, I asked the Lord to give me a better one the next day. I sought accountability and asked questions. I am committed to running my race in life with excellence and finishing strong.

Excellence takes diligence. It takes blood, sweat and tears. Excellence hurts. Often excellence is birthed out of lonely places.

If someone were to look at your work, what would they say about it? Do you work as unto the Lord?  Are you a steward?

We are called to a more excellent way. I pray that you find it for your life and ministry.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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