CULTIVATING A SPIRIT OF EXCELLENCE by AILIE BAUMANN
Intro by Edith
The name Babe Didrikson Zaharias (1911-1956) rings a bell in sports history. Seen as the greatest female athlete of all time, she overcame a height barrier (she was 5 ft. 6 in.) to become a basketball champion. She then conquered other sports such as boxing, tennis, diving, hurdles, javelin, high jump and golf. Why? Because she had a deep-seated desire to be the best at whatever she did. That is what we call a spirit of excellence. Babe set targets and trained relentlessly, with or without help. The laurels she accumulated were the expected outcome of that combination of attitude and lifestyle.
And to teach us how to cultivate such an admirable spirit is my sister, friend and blogging colleague, Ailie Baumann. I’ve observed that Ailie, like Babe, believes in giving her best in whatever she does. Her blogs are always beautifully and painstakingly crafted even though she is a wife and mother and has a full-time job. In this piece, her writing is rich and lucid as usual and she does not detach herself from the subject, thereby giving us the benefit of her personal experience.
This article is for everyone: wherever you are or whatever you are doing, having a spirit of excellence makes all the difference. So read, share widely and leave your impressions in “Comments.” You are highly blessed in Jesus’ name.
CULTIVATING A SPIRIT OF EXCELLENCE
Throughout my childhood, my parents always told me to do my best. They didn’t expect anything less than my best. For me, this became an average of 80% throughout my school years and I managed to complete my university degree with the required 60% average. In no way do my averages make me an A-student but I know that I got these averages by working hard and doing my best.
I remember how each time I got a poor grade, the person hardest on me was myself. I hated not maintaining excellence. I equate excellence with godly living. Ok, I admit, a little ambition and drive don’t hurt either.
Still, as an adult, I apply myself wholeheartedly to what I do. The thought of not meeting expectations or doing less than “perfect” is stressful and at times devastating. My point is that excellence honors God, others and ourselves. It also comes out of a heart that understands what it means to be a child of God and the heart of a good steward. So, how do we cultivate a spirit of excellence?
KNOW GOD’S HEART
Spend time with God. This may be in the mornings or at night. Find what works best for you and enjoy God’s presence. Learn what his heart is towards you, his plans for your life, and get his perspective on life.
I have found that most of what I have achieved in life has been because of God’s help. I have learned to turn to him in those moments I am overwhelmed or at a loss about how to successfully carry out my responsibilities.
Turning to God has been my source of strength, insight, wisdom, and guidance. I find myself regularly thinking of this scripture:
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” – Colossians 3:23 (NLT)
We need to also know who we are. This encompasses our identity in Christ,* our values and beliefs, and our internal motivators. Knowing these things will help you to understand how to channel your best efforts in all that you do to glorify God.
Part of knowing your identity in Christ is understanding your talents and gifts. Pinpointing your strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes is also important. What is it that makes you come alive? When you know your identity, you are able to be excellent as a state of being and not a role to play.
Knowing your identity in God gives you a fuller understanding of your greater purpose in life. This helps you to move forward with fervor and zeal, using your talents and gifts to work out or fulfil your God-given purpose. What we have in us is going to touch many lives. So, we strive to be excellent in all we do because we are God’s children and who knows how deep our impact will be as we seek to figure out our mission or purpose in life.
Furthermore, assess your internal motivators. For me, I am motivated by a job well done. I get a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment from it. On the other hand, one of my “negative” motivators is the approval and affirmation of others. So I combine these two motivators to drive my excellence.
I give more than what is required of me because I want to be seen and recognized. While this may not be the best motivator, it also helps me in my walk with God. I can take this motivator to Him and ask the Lord to help me value his opinion more than the opinions of others.
PLAN YOUR DAY OR WEEK
We live in a fast-paced society that is jam-packed with responsibilities, pressures, and activities. To cultivate excellence in your life, planning your day or week in advance will help you to control your day before it controls you. Some people have found that planning their day the night before works well; others, enjoy planning their entire week on the weekend. Whatever works for you, planning your day or week in advance will help you to approach each task in your day to the best of your ability.
Having a teachable and humble heart goes a long way in helping us to live an excellent life. Allow others to teach you what they know. Ask questions, research as much as possible, and remain open to learning different ways to accomplish tasks. Yes, you may know how to do something but someone else may have a different approach or know a few tricks that can help you get the same thing done in a fraction of the time.
Continue to grow in your area of expertise, interest, or hobbies. Better yourself in all areas of your life and you will find yourself exhibiting excellence more and more.
Father in heaven, plant in my heart a desire for excellence and help me to pursue it steadfastly so that I can accomplish exploits in line with Your purpose for my life in Jesus’ name. Amen.
*An identity in Christ is obtained through salvation. That entitles you to the inheritance He has for the saints which you begin to enjoy from here till eternity. If you’re not yet saved, pray now asking God to forgive your sins and make you His child in Christ Jesus. Tell Him that you accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour and receive His Holy Spirit to live in your heart and help you live as God desires. Pray this in Jesus’ name.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Below is a brief bio from Ailie Baumann:
I’m a passionate, yet imperfect lover of Jesus, wife, mom, freelance writer, blogger and artist. I grew up in a Christian home and have loved Jesus my whole life. My life motto is to seize every opportunity that presents itself. My life’s mission is to love wholeheartedly, unapologetically and unashamedly.
As a writer, I seek to share my encounters with God in order to inspire and draw people deeper in their walk with him. I believe that God wants all of us to walk in the truth that He is a good Father who cares about every detail of our life.
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