Becoming More

In support of excellence, strength, abounding good works, fullness of life, and actually becoming all that God has had in mind for us to be:

Romans 5:1-2 (TLB) – So now, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith in his promises, we can have real peace with him because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. For because of our faith, he has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to actually becoming all that God has had in mind for us to be.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV) – God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Philippians 4:13 (NIV) – I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
John 10:10 (NIV) – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 14:12 (NIV) – Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

Habits of Excellence

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

We’re familiar with the quote, widely attributed to Aristotle. But it was Will Durant who summed Aristotle’s ideas and wrote the following:

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation: we do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have these because we have acted rightly; ‘these virtues are formed in man by his doing the actions’; we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit: ‘the good of man is a working of the soul in the way of excellence in a complete life… for as it is not one swallow or one fine day that makes a spring, so it is not one day or a short time that makes a man blessed and happy.”

With the concept of excellence on my mind all week, I researched what others had to say on the topic. It didn’t take long to wonder, “Who am I to weigh in on the topic, compared to those great minds?” Eventually, I realized we all are looking for relevance to our own lives; we all need to reconcile others’ ideas to personal experiences. Beyond that, it’s too late; I already weighed in with “Excellence and Success.” I’m just relieved I wasn’t out in left field—it fits in nicely with Aristotle’s observations.

It was another of Aristotle’s quotes that affirms those of us who are less brilliant:

“It is simplicity that makes the uneducated more effective than the educated when addressing popular audiences.”

There is a time for every purpose: a time for simplicity and a time for profundity; a time for brevity and a time for elaboration; a time for touching the surface and a time for depth. Thank God for pragmatic folks as well as brilliant minds; for the abundance and variety of formats by which we are enlightened, affirmed, encouraged, and emboldened.

(Source: Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World’s Greatest Philosophers (1926) [Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books, 1991, ISBN 0-671-73916-6] Ch. II: Aristotle and Greek Science; part VII: Ethics and the Nature of Happiness: The quoted phrases within the quotation are from the Nicomachean Ethics, Book II, 4; Book I, 7. The misattribution is from taking Durant’s summation of Aristotle’s ideas as being the words of Aristotle himself.)

Excellence and Success

If a person (let’s say a man) has expectations of excellence in life, and applies himself to the required work, there is naturally an outcome of success. Given time, he cannot help but positively affect his own life, the people in his environment, and every area he applies himself.

Consider two men, one with a mindset of excellence, one without. Give them identical jobs working side by side. Make all factors equal: each receive fair employee treatment and opportunities;  both have good health, aptitude, ample financial resources, family and community support. Then sit back and watch the two employees over time. Observe the man of excellence’s attitude and diligent work ethic. Inspect the quality of work of the man with lesser standards and listen as he defends it. How will the men’s lives differ over time?

The man who habitually aspires to excellence is the one whose future points to success. He can go no other direction. Never mind the times of frustration and apparent failures—barring conditions beyond his control, he will achieve over time; he continually invests and applies himself to succeed.  He expects his relationships, career, obligations—all areas of his life—to be of high quality. His actions reflect his thoughts, and success naturally follows.