Learning Excellence in Unexpected Places

September 4, 2012, 0 Comments

Mechanically inclined [məˈkænɪkli in-klahynd] – A term used to describe someone who is very good at building and fixing things.

Mechanically declined [məˈkænɪkli dɪ-klahynd] – A term used to describe Philip Nation, who is incapable of fixing anything but skilled at breaking many things.


I’m fascinated with people who have a natural talent for fixing stuff. My father is one of them. He grew up in a rural area as the son of the town mechanic. When the car broke he fixed it. When something in the house needed repair, he tried his hand at it. Painfully for me (and my wife), none of these skills were passed along through the genetic pool.

As church leaders, we often feel the need to be excellent at everything. Our self-image is often wrapped up in how well the Sunday message went, if the staff is following our lead, and everyone understands the vision we’ve cast for the congregation.

Leaders in every sphere feel the same pressure. In business, we want to be ahead of the game. In the community, we want to be well-respected and networked with others. In the academic world, we want to be recognized among our peers as an expert. No matter your field, we strive for excellence. Excellence is normally equated with being noticed.

But what if being excellence is not about being noticed? If we desire excellence in our work, it should be for the sake of the work. Not for the sake of the workman.

Several weeks ago, I came across the video below. It shows how to lay 12-inch cement blocks. I know… it sounds riveting. But I’ll bet you’ll watch more of the video than you expect. The worker’s face is never shown. He works with excellence. Efficiency of movements. Steady hands. Skilled at his craft. Dedication to accuracy. And, yes, he lays cement blocks like is an art.

Today, as we go about our work, do so as if no one will ever see your face but everyone is depending upon your dedication. Work as if what you do today will be built upon by others tomorrow.

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