Everything With Excellence: Phil Gocke

Heyo,
I am excited about today’s blog post by the super awesome Phillip Gocke.  (Can I call you ‘Phil’?  I can?  Okay.)  Phil Gocke.  ;)  He and his wife Emily worked at my alma mater Central Bible College and they had an easy knack for investing into many, many students.  And they did it so well!  I have been ministered to by his practical words and godly example, and I hope you find encouragement by his post.  Much love,
Josh

What’s the difference between an Apple store and most any other electronics store?  You might already have some ideas, but let’s compare them.

Electronics store:  Offer huge selections with cheap prices, but poor customer service.
Apple store:  Displays are cool.  Products are revolutionary.  Staff is knowledgeable and passionate.  Apple builds great products, sells great products, and supports great products.  And everyone wants to be like them.
In my opinion, Apple does things in the best way possible.  They strive to create and sell the very best products.  And they do!  They are the trend-setter in so many ways technologically.
Let me pose to you a question.  What is something that all of us should do, most of us want to do, but few of us really ever do?  It’s something that the Bible commands and God requires.
Doing everything with excellence.
Apple has made it their goal to be excellent with every product and service they provide.  And in many ways they have achieved that goal!  But as an individual, would you ever say that your goal was to be excellent at everything you do?
In the Bible there is a pattern that I have seen many times over and I want to share it with you today.  God requires us to be excellent in everything we do.

In the Old Testament book of Leviticus, guidelines are laid out regarding sacrifices offered to God.  Leviticus 22:20-22 reads:

“You should not offer any animals that are diseased, weak, or injured or have any defects.  Such a sacrifice is not acceptable for you.  Also when a man offers a sacrifice… he must offer a perfect, unblemished offering in order to be accepted.  Do not offer any animals that are blind, have broken bones, are deformed…”

Living in Old Testament times, sacrifices had to be perfect.  Throughout the New Testament, though, we offer a different type of sacrifice towards God… ourselves!  Romans 12:1 tells us:

“Brothers and sisters… I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship.”

The nature of the sacrifice has not changed: it still must be excellent, but you are now offering yourself to God.  You are offering your work, your habits, your passions, your attitude, and even your motivations and desires.

Colossians 3:23-24 gives us the best example of what I am talking about: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Well, what does it mean to be excellent?

Excellence is defined as exceptionally good, superior, highest quality, outstanding.  University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino once said, “Excellence is the unlimited ability to improve the quality of what you have to offer.”

I work for a University in the state of Missouri and classes have just started.  Maybe you are starting back to school yourself.  Or maybe you’re a parent who is sending your kids back to school.  If you’re a sports fan, it’s the beginning of football season and you’re starting to follow your favorite team.  Or if you’re a nature lover, it’s close to the beginning of my wife’s favorite season, fall.

The start of a new year has traditionally been the time where we create resolutions, and promises to start new habits.  I would challenge you that NOW can be that time, too!

Strive every day to offer God your excellence.

Here are two areas to focus on:

  • Character.  Aspire to be like Jesus in your attitude, in your words, and in your thoughts.  Are you striving for excellence in your personal character?
  • Habits.  It was once said “we are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”  How disciplined are you spiritually?  What habits are you repeatedly doing that will make you more like Jesus?  Are you practicing excellence in your daily habits?
This is not easy, and I am not trying to say that it is.  It is very difficult to be excellent at one thing, let alone many things.  God doesn’t expect perfection from us (that’s why He sent Jesus, who Himself was the necessary perfect sacrifice).  But He does expect us to make every effort to offer ourselves to Him in the most excellent way possible.
I want to leave you with a few verses out of the Message translation, Romans 12:1-2:

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.  Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him.  Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.  Instead, fix your attention on God.  You’ll be changed from the inside out.  Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it.  Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Striving to give God excellence,
Phil

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