from JO’s sermon tonight:
we live in a society where mediocrity is the norm; many people do as little as they can to get by. they don’t take pride in their work, in who they are. if somebody is watching they’ll perform one way, but when nobody is watching, they’ll cut corners and take the easy way out. if we’re not careful, we’ll get pulled into this same mentality, thinkin’ that it’s ok to show up late to work, not look our best, not give it our all, but God doesn’t bless mediocrity, God blesses excellence. when you have an excellent spirit, you do the right thing whether anyone is watching or not; you go the extra mile, you do more than you have to. other people may complain, go out lookin’ sloppy, cutting corners, but don’t sink down to that level; “everybody’s doin’ it, everybody slacks off when the boss is gone at my company, everybody compromises at my school, everybody doesn’t take care of their yards in my neighborhood,” no, you’re not everybody, you’re a cut above, you are called to be excellent, God wants you to set the highest standard. you should be the example your company uses as the model employee; your boss should be able to say to the new hires, “watch this person, develop their skills, learn their habits, they are the cream of the crop. they’re always on time, they always have a good attitude, they do more than they have to.”
when you have an excellent spirit like that, you’re not only going to see promotion, but you are honoring God. a lot of times we think, “lemme go to church to honor God. lemme read my Bible and pray to honor God,” and yes, that’s true, but it honors God to get to work on time, to be productive each day, to go out looking your best. when you are excellent, your life is giving praise to God; that’s one of the best witnesses we could ever have, because some people will never come to church, they’ll never listen to a minister, they’re not reading their Bible, they’re reading your life, watchin’ how you live. don’t be sloppy. when you leave the house, whether you’re wearin’ a suit or a pair of shorts, make sure you look the best that you possibly can; you are representing almighty God. when you have a spirit of excellence, you do more than you have to. you don’t just do the minimum amount required, you go the extra mile. this phrase comes from the scripture; Jesus said:
Matthew 5:41 (NIV)
41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.
back in those days, a Roman soldier, when they were traveling through the city, they could require by law a person to carry their armor for one mile; after that mile, they would have to find somebody else. Jesus said, “if they ask you to carry it for a mile, go beyond the call of duty, do more than is expected; carry it 2 miles.” that’s the attitude we should have, not, “I’m gonna go to work and do as little as I can to try to keep this job, no, I’m a person of excellence, I’m gonna go beyond the call of duty, do more than is expected of me.” that means, if you’re supposed to be at work at 8:00, you show up 10 minutes early; you do more than you have to. you don’t start shutting down 30 minutes before the day is over, no, you go the extra mile. some people go to work 15 minutes late, walk around the office, get a cup of coffee, get to their desk about 8:30, spend the next half hour surfin’ the internet, makin’ personal phone calls. they wonder why they don’t get promoted. here’s why; God doesn’t reward sloppiness, God rewards excellence.
Genesis 24 (NIV)
24 Abraham was now very old…2 He said to the senior servant… 3 I want you to swear by the Lord… go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac… 10 Then the servant left, taking with him ten of his master’s camels…11 He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town… 12 Then he prayed, “Lord, God of my master Abraham… 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac…15 Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder… She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again.
17 The servant hurried to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.”
18 “Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink.
19 After she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have had enough to drink.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels.
Abraham told his assistant that the way you know you will find the right girl is… (Abraham didn’t say it, see the verse quoted above; the concept remains valid whoever said it). a camel, after a long day’s walk, can drink 30 gallons of water. this man had 10 camels with him. if she had a 1-gallon bucket, she was offering to dip the it 300 times (um, probably not, no woman has that kind of strength, but the concept, again, is valid). that’s goin’ way beyond the call of duty. she is chosen to marry Isaac, who comes from the wealthiest family of that day. God rewards excellence. when you do more than what’s required of you, you’ll see God’s goodness in a new way.
you say, “I’m declarin’ God’s favor, promotion and increase is coming”; that’s one part of it, but the 2nd part is, are you getting to work on time, doing more than you have to, better this year than you were last year? your company shouldn’t get along nearly as well without you. you should be so skilled, productive, valuable, needed, they can’t afford to lose you. we live in a very competitive marketplace. if you’re not growing, improving, learning new skills, you’re fallin’ behind. if you’re at the same skill level today that you were 5 years ago, you’re at a disadvantage. you need to take steps to grow; whatever you do, get better at it. take classes, find a mentor, study ways that you can be more productive, efficient. don’t get stagnant; an excellent person keeps growing.
there’s always room for improvement; we can always get better. when you’re a person of excellence, you don’t get stagnant; you’re always takin’ steps to improve, lookin’ for ways that you can be better. favor and excellence go hand in hand; increase, promotion, reaching your highest potential, it is all tied to a spirit of excellence. some people are driving a car that hasn’t been washed in 6 months; if you don’t take care of what God’s given you, how can God bless you with more? whether you have a lot or a little, whether it’s new or old, take pride in what God has given you. when you have a spirit of excellence, it’s ingrained in you. this building represents almighty God, we do our best to take care of it in a first-class way. we represent God, and God is not sloppy, run-down, 2nd-class; He is an excellent God. that doesn’t mean that you have to have the best to represent God, it simply means whatever God has given you, take care of it the best you possibly can. do what you can to represent God in an excellent way.
when our children were younger, we used to take them to Disneyland; that place is always spotless. take this to your own life: your house, car, clothes, cubicle, office; I’m not asking you to spend a lot of $, it’s all in how you choose to take care of what God has given you. do it with excellence, knowing that you represent almighty God. you may be in a situation where everybody around you is a little lazy, indifferent, undisciplined; don’t let that rub off on you. you be the one to have an excellent spirit, stand out in the crowd. what kind of witness is it to our friends, neighbors, coworkers, if our yard is sloppy, our car is never washed, we’re always running late everywhere we go; that’s not a good representation, not who you really are. God made you as a person of excellence; maybe all you’ve seen modeled is mediocrity, but God is callin’ you to a higher standard. He’s gonna take you places you’ve never dreamed of, but you’ve gotta do your part and stir up the excellence that’s on the inside. don’t make excuses, come up to a higher level of excellence.
even in our personal appearance, how we dress, present ourselves, there are all different styles, we have different taste, one is not right and the other is wrong, you may not like to wear a suit, that’s fine, the main thing is make sure you present yourself in a way that you’re proud of. don’t leave the house feelin’ sloppy, less than your best, knowin’ that you didn’t take time to look as good as you could have. you are a temple of the most high God; God lives in you, take time to take care of yourself. some of you ladies, you’re very good at taking care of others, you put the children first, you’re a great wife, you’re runnin’ the household, but you need to start takin’ time to take care of yourself. go get your nails done, get your hair done; it’s scriptural to take care yourself in an excellent way. some of you men haven’t bought yourself any new clothes in 27 years. you’re an excellent worker, a great provider for your family; make sure you take care of yourself. we represent almighty God, and God does not like sloppiness. even around the house, of course we all like to be super-casual, but make sure you still look good for your children, spouse. ladies, get your husband’s credit card, go up to the mall, find something that makes you look like the masterpiece God made you to be; now you men can thank me later.
when you’re at the store shoppin’ and something accidentally falls off the rack, don’t act like you don’t see it and just leave it there; a person of excellence picks it up and puts it back. when you’re shoppin’ for groceries and you decide you don’t want the cereal anymore, don’t just stick it over by the detergents; a person of excellence takes it where it belongs. somebody that has a spirit of excellence doesn’t park in the handicapped spot because they don’t feel like walkin’. when you have this spirit of excellence, you do the right thing, not because s0mebody’s watching you, not because they’re makin’ you do it; you do it to honor God. a person of excellence does the right thing even when nobody’s watching, even when you don’t agree, even when you don’t think it’s necessary. sometimes you have to say, “God, I don’t feel like doin’ this, but I’m gonna do it unto you. God, what my boss is askin’ me to do is not right, but I’m gonna do it unto you. God, I didn’t make the mess, I shouldn’t have to clean it up, but I’m gonna do it unto you.” some people are not seein’ God’s favor like they should because they’re not passing the small test; bein’ more excellent may not be some huge adjustment you need to make, it may just be somethin’ small, like getting to work 10 minutes earlier, not complaining when you have to clean up, doin’ the right thing even though you don’t feel like it.
Song of Solomon 2:15 (KJB)
Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines
I don’t want somethin’ small to keep God from releasin’ somethin’ big into my life. are there areas where you know God’s dealin’ with you about comin’ up higher? any time God asks you to do something, if you will obey, a reward will follow. whether you realize it or not, people are watching you. even in small areas, make sure you’re representing God in a great way. In the book of Daniel it says:
Daniel 6:3 (ESV)
3 Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him.
as a teenager, he was brought to Babylon; the king was training all these young men, and the best ones would become the next leaders. Daniel had made a vow to God that he would always honor Him. the Babylonians were worshipping idols; Daniel was respectful, but he wouldn’t eat the king’s fancy food, he didn’t just follow along and do what everyone else was doing. he made more excellent choices.
Daniel 6:3 (NIV)
3 Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.
it doesn’t say that God distinguished Daniel, and he got promoted, it says he distinguished himself. the Message translation says:
Daniel 6:3 (MSG)
3 … Daniel, brimming with spirit and intelligence, so completely outclassed the other…
that’s what happens when, #1, you honor God with your life, and #2, you have a spirit of excellence. you don’t compromise, you don’t just go with the flow, do what everybody else is doin’; like Daniel, you make the more excellent decisions. when you have an excellent spirit, God will give you unprecedented favor, creativity, ideas, that will cause you to stand out. you will outclass, in humility, those around you that are not honoring God. are you distinguishing yourself, going the extra mile, doin’ more than you have to, makin’ the more excellent choices? God is always dealing with us about some area to come up higher in; maybe it’s to be more excellent in how you treat people, present yourself, in your career, improving your skills. don’t let somethin’ small keep God from releasing something big into your life. you are called to be a cut above. you have excellence on the inside; now stir it up and bring it to the outside. God is going to give you more wisdom, ideas, strength, creativity; you’re going to outclass, outperform, outshine. God is going to promote you, put you in a place of honor, and you will fulfill your God-given destiny.