“All things excellent are both difficult and rare”

Spinoza was onto something, I think. And it seems especially germane today. I’m amazed at how often I find myself wondering, “Certainly there is an easier or faster way to do this.” Now, it’s not like I have good reason to think that in those particular circumstances, and I’m aware that efficiency and progress can be important values, but when it’s just a general assumption about how life should be easier in an advanced and technologically drunk society like ours, uh… something’s wrong. And I think it affects our assumptions about spiritual growth and church ministry. Certainly we can just buy something or start a program or make our website to be a little more 2.0… Yeah, I don’t think so. There’s no easy way to memorize Scripture and get it into your head and heart. There’s no substitute for flat-out praying with God. Why should we expect a fast track to an excellent relationship with God?! We are talking about the unfathomable, perfectly holy God of the Universe. Easy? Not so much.

FCC Newsletter Blurb – Why We Pursue Excellence

Figured I’d share some of what I’m writing in the church newsletter. I think I’m gonna have to use snippets from my vocational production (How stilted sounding is that?!… What the heck is “vocational production”?) in order to consistently have fodder for blogging and, at the same time, not add more time than it’s worth (i.e., drive myself crazy with yet another to-do list item that I will never get done.)

Why We Pursue Excellence
When Vince Lombardi took over for the Green Bay Packers, they had lost all but one of 12 games the previous year. They were an organization needing inspiration. Don’t worry, the metaphorical similarity to First Christian Church doesn’t begin there! :o) On the contrary, we’ve been blessed with many years of servant leadership the likes of which many churches never enjoy, and I am fortunate to begin my ministry as your preacher on the shoulders of many who have gone before. First Christian Church has been faithful to God’s calling since its formation in 1926 and, Lord willing, has many great years ahead of it. Friends, we’ve got good stuff to work with and, in many ways, there’s not a lot to “fix.”

But Lombardi did see untapped potential and, in his first speech with the new team he declared with a tone of purpose and confidence, “Gentlemen, we are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it, because nothing is perfect. But we are going to relentlessly chase it, because in the process we will catch excellence.” He paused, stepped up within a foot of the front row of players, and then he said, “I am not remotely interested in just being good.”

Wow! What challenging words for a team looking to win a few games! And while I’m certainly no Lombardi and First Christian Church is far healthier than a team coming off a one-win season, I am excited about pursuing excellence together because of the potential we have together. Not because we want to build a big church. Not because we want to be the coolest church in town… But because we want to communicate to our community and world the excellence of God. As God’s people we are called to spread a passion for the supremacy of God, and in light of that high calling, I don’t have much interest in just getting by. The glory of God is too important.

A lofty goal? Yes. But I’d rather fail trying to attain excellence than be successful at mediocrity. And while we certainly won’t always win, aiming high means we will catch excellence (and a quite a few not-yet-Christians) along the way!

    Good Quote from Jack Nicklaus

    Here’s a good quote I picked up from SmartPastor.com:

    “Achievement is largely the product of steadily raising one’s levels of aspiration and expectation.” -Jack Nicklaus

    Here’s a good source page: The Quotations Page