Some have equated excellence with perfection. I want to dispel this notion by breaking the two words down into bite-sized pieces. In defining each concept, I hope to help others avoid the destructive sink hole of perfectionism that I’ve fallen into from time to time. We can find success, peace and satisfaction in life, even though we’re imperfect people in an imperfect world.
I don’t see excellence as a destination, but rather a road trip—heading out on a God-journey toward bigger and better things that He has planned for us. We need to remember that “ … we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10-NIV)”
My granddaughter, Charlotte, will turn one year old in September. The pediatricians say that she’s right on target in overall health, development and size. She tried to crawl up our stairs last week, and if it weren’t for us hovering over her like helicopters, we would have spent the rest of the day in the emergency room. You see, as a baby, Charlotte is doing extremely well; I would consider her an excellent baby. If one were to measure her behavior and physical abilities compared to an adult, though, we would be worried. Thankfully, Charlotte is living up to her baby-sized potential.
Excellence is in play when a person or an organization is operating at their highest potential. They may not have all of the resources, or the strength of the next guy, company or church, but they are maximizing their capabilities and giving it everything they’ve got. The good thing about excellence is that it has nothing to do with the “next guy.” Pursuing excellence is not a destination—it’s a state of mind that helps us focus on the best possibilities for our personal lives, our families, our businesses and churches. While on this journey, we can still make mistakes, learn from them and get back on track.
Perfection is an unreachable destination. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines perfection as: being flawless; free from fault or defect. Unfortunately, we humans have lost the race when it comes to perfection. The Bible defines sin as transgression (violation; crime) against the law of God. In archer’s terms, sin is a result of failing to hit the mark of perfection—we’ve missed the bull’s eye! But, glory to God, Scripture says: “For just as through the disobedience of the one man [Adam] the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man [Jesus] the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:17-NIV)”
God canceled our sin-debt through the blood of Jesus. Through faith in Christ, we no longer have to worry about being perfect: Jesus, the Spotless Lamb, became a perfect sacrifice on our behalf! Perfectionism will always frustrate and disappoint because we will never live up to its demands. When we try to attain perfection in business, as artists, in church, in relationships, etc., we will never be truly content. There will never be perfect symmetry on earth, perfect people or perfect organizations—and certainly not perfect churches. We need to deal with that fact and get on with life.
Excellence versus perfection? I choose to travel on the road of excellence. I may hit a bump or two along the way, but I know that if I fix my aim on pleasing God, and offer my very best in every circumstance, I’ll hit the bull’s eye every time.