Excellence is not perfectionism

7 Jun


The intro was my responsibility. I strummed away and added the sweet guitar lick at the end of the phrase. The vocalists came in with sweet worship ascending to God from within our midst.

The keys came in, and everything came to an immediate dissonant end. I turned deep red, moved my capo to the correct fret, and we started again. I wanted to get away, to hide, to explain to everyone what had happened. Instead, I intentionally turned away from myself and worshiped God in my humiliation. After the service, many people commented that they had truly worshiped God.

I am amazed that when there are mistakes and glitches during a service, more people share how meaningfully they connected with God.

Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. Psalm 33:3

The word skillfully means “with excellence and great skill”. Excellence is one of our worship ministry’s top values.

Here’s why – if we are worshiping the God of the universe, the Creator of all things, the Father who sent His only Son to die for our sins and who adopted us, our Sustainer and Provider (and the list goes on); if this is Who we worship, how can we give Him anything less than our very best?

Excellence is doing the very best we can with what we have for God’s glory.

Excellence is doing the very best we can with what we have for God’s glory. Excellence takes many forms, is intentional, and includes sacrifice and includes–

  • Making personal practice a priority instead of “winging it”
  • Valuing mid-week rehearsal, being on time and staying engaged as it gets late
  • Not being satisfied with the status quo, constantly looking for a way to improve
  • Reading the equipment manual and learning new technical solutions to issues
  • Getting up really early every Sunday for a tech tun-through so that each element and its tech needs is tested and ready to go

Excellence is doing the very best we can with what we have for God’s glory. If we trust God as provider, then we have to believe that he has given us everything we need to lead others in worship. We can worship him without a bass player. We can sing his praises with outdated sound equipment. He will be praised even with prerecorded music – as long as our focus is him and his glory. Envying another church’s stage design doesn’t bring God glory, neither does whining and complaining. He does not hold us accountable for what he has not given us.

Excellence is doing the best we can with what we have for God’s glory. The means, then, are perhaps more important than the end when it comes to worshiping God, because people are involved– and people matter to God. Delivering a perfect production with relational casualties in its wake doesn’t glorify God. Lost tempers, biting comments, drama and gossip behind the scenes are all sinful because they devalue people and do not honor God. Fretting over what could (or should) have been doesn’t honor him either. Soli deo gloria! 

Excellence is different from perfectionism.

Perfectionism strives for a flawless performance and is dissatisfied with anything less. My ego and reputation are wrapped up in delivering an impeccable performance. The goal is a flawless end product. There is an inherent “at any cost” mentality so that mistakes and what is missing loom larger than all else. Nothing about this brings glory to God, so why would we call it worship? And why would God accept this kind of “sacrifice”?

Excellence is doing the very best we can with what we have for God’s glory!



Much of my week is devoted to getting ready for Sunday – communication with team members, assembling the Order of Worship, setting the stage (literally!), thinking through service element transitions, and encouraging everyone involved to remember all this is simply a vehicle taking us toward God’s heart. When something doesn’t go as planned, worship is not ruined, in fact, maybe there is a greater opportunity to worship Him… in spite of ourselves.

Because He is worthy.


4 Responses to “Excellence is not perfectionism”

  1. Scott Sholar June 7, 2014 at 11:56 am #

    I used to belong to a denomination that “winged it” a lot regarding music and other areas of the service. Thanks for sharing, and God bless you.

    • cathyhowie June 7, 2014 at 7:58 pm #

      There is a time and place for spontaneity, but God also works within structure. “Winging it” is another perspective entirely! Thanks, Scott, and God bless you too!

  2. Susannah Francis June 10, 2014 at 10:28 pm #

    WONDERFUL! I think this would a great tool for our praise band to read at our next practice. Thank you!

    • cathyhowie June 10, 2014 at 11:35 pm #

      Thanks, Susannah! This is exactly why I write these devotionals! You are most welcome!!

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