Pat Riley, former coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, knows something about excellence. Having won one NBA Championship as a player, and five as a coach (four with the Lakers, and one with the Miami Heat), he had this to say about excellence…
Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.
People who rest on their laurels or believe their own press seldom achieve little more than fleeting success. Those who reach a point at which they become satisfied with their past accomplishments, and rest on past glory are usually left on the shoulder on the highway of progress, and soon become spectators of this Great Race we call Life. Those who spend their lives working for the applause of others are foreign to the loneliness of what it means to be a pioneer, or are unfamiliar with the solitude that comes from being on the cutting edge.
It’s the NBA star who was once the 12-year-old kid, shooting countless free-throws in his driveway.
It’s the inventor who went through hundreds (or thousands) of failed designs before he found the one that worked.
It’s the musician who practiced for thousands of hours in an empty room before playing the first note in a concert before thousands.
It’s the medical professional, who spent lonely years studying what it means to hold life in their hands.
As Christians, we are held to a higher standard…
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 3:12-14
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.. ~ Colossians 3:23-25
Paul shows us that his goal was to keep moving forward, that there is a prize that awaits those who diligently follow after Jesus. Paul makes it clear that excellence is a constant journey that is only achieved by continually moving forward. As believers in Christ, our excellence should be evident to all, for it stands to echo into eternity.
The great Vince Lombardi once said…
Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.
If perfection is our goal, than excellence is within reach.
However, if “good enough” is our standard of success, then we will survive in a nondescript existence of mediocrity and obscurity.
I just think the King of Glory is worthy of more than that… don’t you?