Tag Archives: excellence

Excellence is not perfectionism

7 Jun

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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 We can sing his praises with outdated sound equipment.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!

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

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.

Paradox: Strength & Weakness

17 Aug

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Worshiping God with anything less than excellence gets my hackles up. I’m really passionate about glorifying God with my best. Since you are reading this, you probably have similar tendencies.

Those of us on worship teams – vocalists, instrumentalists, techs – operate out of our God-given talents and strengths. In Psalm 33:3 the word skillful means with excellence:

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

You’ve heard me say this before. Many times. Nothing new here.

PARADOX

Except it’s not that simple.

Paul goes on a rant at the end of 2 Corinthians (Ch 11-13) responding to the Corinthians’ apostasy in believing false teachers – teachers who seemed to have more on the ball than he did. But rather than give a list of credentials and successes, he shares his weaknesses (2 Cor 11:30). He even boasts about a man who was caught up to paradise and saw wonderful things (2 Cor 12:1-5), but he doesn’t even mention that the SON of GOD appeared to him and the events of the next few days (Acts 9) that solidified his calling. Not even the tiniest hint.

Why??

Power.

The power that Paul lived in was the same power that raised Christ from the dead.

Think about that for awhile.

Christ was crucified in weakness, but raised to life by the power of God (2 Cor 13:4).

Paul had the choice to talk about himself and how God was using him. Or he could share his weaknesses so God would be glorified and “Christ’s power may rest on [him]” (2 Cor 12:9). Paul chose wisely.

PARADOX RESOLUTION

God has gifted us, and every time we lead worship we have the privilege and responsibility to lead his church with excellence in praising him.

Do we chuck all that in order to boast about our weakness?

Of course, the answer is a resounding and emphatic: NO!

Because God’s power works through weakness does not mean it can’t also work through strength. Remember Samson? God made him strong and used his great strength to liberate Israel from the Philistines (Judges 15:14-17). God uses the gifts he gives his people… until we begin to trust in the gift. Samson lost it all when he became proud (Judges 16).

Paul knew what had happened to Samson–  and he had seen the glorified, resurrected Son of God.

After his vision on the road to Damascus, Paul worked with a single focus– to serve and glorify his Savior:

  • In strength – God used Paul’s intellect to pen more of the New Testament than any other writer’s
  • And in weakness – the suffering for the Gospel, the thorn in his flesh, his less-than-stellar speaking ability – all turned attention off Paul and on Christ

God calls us to turn all the attention on him. He promises to direct us (Prov 3:5-6) as we rely on him whether we are working in our strengths or weaknesses.

Here’s what God has been showing me this week: When I am weak, I have access to resurrection power. However, because God has given me talents and abilities, I am almost always using them… and almost never operating in my weaknesses.

It’s counter-intuitive. Run into my weaknesses? Seriously?

God doesn’t call me to use my intuition. He calls me to follow him. My weaknesses are part of that – so others will see him and the power that raised Jesus from the dead.

This is what the world needs.

His power, not mine.

——————————

READY FOR SUNDAY

Have I been deluded by an either/or instead of a both/and philosophy regarded strengths and weaknesses? Why?

What is holding me back from being vulnerable and letting God work through my weakness?

How can I balance using my gifts with operating in my weaknesses?

Oh that I would walk so closely with God I could hear his call toward a weakness instead of going to a default strength! That I would glory only in the cross of Jesus and let his power flow through me into those I lead and into the world! That he will receive all the glory, forever and ever… may it be so. Yes and amen.

The very best

15 Feb

??????????????

Sitting down at the piano with 1:38 left on the countdown video, I arranged the charts I hadn’t seen since the rehearsal four days ago.  My scrawled pencil marks reminded me of some basic cues, but my heart squeezed my blood pressure until I felt my pulse in my fingers. “I meant to practice.  Really,” I whispered a quick confession, not daring to ask for his help since I hadn’t made time to practice.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I led our worship teams in a study of Psalm 33:3

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

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 (the list could go on and 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. A short list of examples–

  • Making personal practice a priority instead of “winging it” (!)
  • Valuing mid-week rehearsal, being on time and staying engaged even 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 is tested, rehearsed, and ready to go

Excellence is different from perfectionism.

Perfectionism may look the same as excellence on the outside, but the heart attitude and motivation couldn’t be more different.  Perfectionism strives for a flawless performance and is dissatisfied with anything less. The goal is a perfect end product with an inherent at-any-cost mentality, so that mistakes loom larger than all else. Ego and reputation are wrapped up in delivering an impeccable performance, consequently, a disappointing presentation means the performer’s worth is greatly reduced. Simply put, this is pride– performance for self.

Excellence seeks to do its very best, and is happy with a less-than-perfect result. Far from a “settling” mindset, however, excellence learns from mistakes and works to make the next time even better.  The focus is on God and pleasing him, not on the performance or on self.

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

———————-

Ready for Sunday

What am I doing during the week to get ready for Sunday so that my contribution to the service is excellent?

How do my priorities reflect my commitment to worship God with excellence?  (One answer to this for me is that I now put “practice” on my schedule!)

What other activities, practices, and attitudes are important to excellence?

This is the first post in a 3-part series on Excellence vs. Perfectionism.
Next week: “What we have”
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