In Pursuit of Excellence

I am a longtime subscriber to the idea that, as a Christian, worship should be a part of one's daily life. No, that doesn't mean I'm singing hymns and Chris Tomlin songs throughout the day, but that, rather, as Paul encourages, I am worshipping God through how I perform my day-to-day tasks.

This idea's been mulling in my head for the past week or so. You see, recently I've been binge-watching this show, Forged in Fire, in my "spare" time. It's a blacksmithing competition, comparable to what Chopped is for cooking and, because I like blades and ancient weapons, it's right up my alley. Part of what's fascinating to me is seeing how each smith works. I won't lie, after watching some of these guys, I'll never buy a knife from them, but there's one guy from season 1 who stands out to me.

To fill you in on some background, there are many in the show who are religious, Christian and Neopagan being the most common among the older and younger smiths respectively. Majority of these religious smiths seem to be of the "do my work and hope on a prayer" type of persuasion, sometimes going the extra mile, but usually just doing what everybody else does. This guy, though, didn't do that. In fact, he never mentioned his faith on the show, but it still permeated the way in which he did his work.

This guy is Burt Foster, by the way. As it turns out, he's a Master Smith with a long reputation for good work and I'm not surprised in the least. He worked with an exactness, a precision that spoke of many hours of practice at the forge. He had a certain economy of motion and single-focused direction that spoke measures of his knowledge of what needed to be done and the best way to do it. His finished product had a level of detail and care put into it that was evident not in the trimmings, the artistic, decorative work, but in the material and performance itself.

As I was watching him work, there was just something different about him. After looking him up to see his other work, especially since his forge is about a 2 1/2 hr drive from me, I discovered, to my complete lack of surprise, that he is a Christian.

Why do I say lack of surprise? Well, as the founder of my undergraduate alma mater, Jerry Falwell Sr is quoted to have said, "If it's Christian, it ought to be better." I realised, in hindsight, that, for Burt Foster, blacksmithing was worship. In giving his very best to God, it is as though he said to God that he would make for him his very best knives, daily.

That got me thinking. You see, the very fact that I had to remediate two classes tells me that I definitely did not take that approach to my schoolwork. In many ways, I don't do that in my marriage. In my daily walk with Christ, I might give the dregs, the coffee grounds at the bottom of the cup - definitely not my best.

So, I realised that, as a medical student, a husband, a future father (surprise!), a Christian, and as a future doctor, that I needed to pursue excellence in all of these arenas, as an act of worship. Of course, that begs the question of what excellence is, to which I narrowed it down to two factors:

  • Performing to the very best of my ability in any given role
  • Seeking to grow my performance ceiling, or seeking to perform better today than what my best was yesterday
What does that look like? It means being dedicated to my studies (and I'm calling myself out right now on that...) and finding better, more effective methods to help increase my studying. It means serving my wife and seeking to be more in tune with her needs. It means spending time learning in advance what fatherhood entails. It means learning how to be an excellent doctor.

Now, that's a lot of weight on my shoulders. There's a lot of excellence and perfection in that list that most men would balk at and turn around - in fact, I have - many times - but I forgot the most important part, the part that enables me to pursue excellence and perfection.

I forgot the pursuit of God.

Without God, I am nothing. I am human - fallen, flawed, marred by sin, incapable of producing excellence and perfection. But God? In my weakness, His perfection, His majesty, His excellence is made manifest.

So, then, what am I to do?

"Seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and all of these things will be added to you."

Seek God first. Pursue His excellence and perfection and, in the pursuit of Him, bring these burdens to Him, that He may carry them, that, through His excellence and righteousness, I may worship Him in all spheres of my life.

That is my challenge.

In Studio Excellentiae


Popular Posts