Coached to Excel

Consider God’s influence on people’s lives. Consider his influence on YOUR life. Imagine him as a great coach, teacher, or parent. He knows what you’re capable of. He knows what is still uncovered or undeveloped within you. He knows how to coach that potential to excellence and success.

What coach, teacher, or parent wants his capable child or player to aspire to something minimal?  What kind of coach of a gifted athlete says, “Well kid, I’m dreaming big for you. I hope you can get off the bench for at least ten minutes during this season”?

Young Baseball Player Waiting on Sidelines

Great coaches, teachers, and parents are adept at assessing our potential and nurturing it to fullness. God, of course, is perfect at it. He knows our potential; he’s the one who put it in us. He never dreams small for us. He is satisfied when we develop all that we were meant to be. He wants us to succeed in a big way. He’s not satisfied until our capabilities have been drawn out, nurtured, and developed to maturity. He loves seeing you gratified, thriving in the fullness of who you were meant to be.

Until we reach our potential, he cajoles, pushes, disciplines, encourages, and (if we’re stubborn or immobilized by fear) he’ll even push us into situations to show us we can do it. He’s not coaching you to be a benchwarmer—he’s coaching you to excel. It is not a good day when one of his kids is languishing on the sidelines—it’s a good day when one of his kids is peaking in their potential. THAT is what God calls a good day.

Hear the coach’s speech: “You are exceptional. Let me show you what you are capable of; what you haven’t experienced yet. You are a diamond in the rough. You have untapped potential within you. We are going to uncover your abilities, talents, gifts, skills, insights, and more. Let me show you how you can gain mastery, accomplish much, and express your strengths superbly. Raise your expectations to match mine. Don’t settle—think excellence. Form habits of excellence, so I can give you success.”

It’s never too late to change attitudes and habits. Think excellence, let God be your coach, and show the world what you can do. We need your distinctive influence and glorious achievements.



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.)