The word “excellent” has as its root “excel” and this means to possess outstanding quality or superior merit; to be remarkably skilled. It implies being beyond expectations or averages. The Word of God uses it to describe works of our Father (Psalm 150, Isaiah 12:5), a wife who is the crown of her husband (Proverbs 31:10), and speech not fitting for a fool (Proverbs 17:7). God Himself is the standard of what is excellent; His works are all outstanding, complete and perfect, and we were created to bear His Image into a dark and non-sympathetic world.
This might sound daunting or impossible - isn’t it enough to serve God, love God, think about God daily, ask Him to bless our food, and strive to raise our children to do the same? What if the answer is No; what if He calls us to dig in and reach higher, and inspire our children to More? And what if that direction doesn’t take us to places that are secure? Being made in His Image means He calls us to create, to imagine, to explore the gifts He placed in each of us to bless His World His Way. That might feel difficult or counterintuitive, but that is what He means for us - be unapologetically diligent, bypass some good things to reach the best things, because those best things are needful for His Kingdom work.
Prov. 22:29 - “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” The writer doesn’t specify what type work, only that it be done skillfully. A woman came to our community & spoke about this verse once: she was a basketball player, too short to “go pro” but extremely talented in handling & shooting the ball. Her message was that despite the naysayers around her, she had invested her youth in becoming excellent at basketball, and she had indeed performed in an exhibition for a royal court in Asia, and because of her ball skills was able to share the love of God in a dark place. What a testimony to God’s faithfulness! What if she had ignored her calling & gone an easier route?
In the arts, we believers have to see the connection: if you are aware of today’s artistic offerings you must see the lack of anything akin to excellence. TV shows, plays, books, movies - much of it lacks real creativity and instead showcases baseness and admiration for darkness. This current age has descended into such twisting of God’s image and un-Godly creativity that anything with light and excellence stands out in the dark. What does God think of creative excellence? David, the shepherd boy who God crowned as king of Israel, carved his own instrument, wrote poetry, set it to music and then sang it himself, and Acts 13 tells us he was a man after God’s own heart. When we look for God’s idea of creativity, we only have to go as far as Exodus to see the details He specified for the building of His Tabernacle; 1 & 2 Chronicles tells of the incredible beauty in every detail of God’s Temple that He described to David and Solomon carried out; even the priests’ clothing was woven and sewn with amazing details & richness. This all was how God’s people approached Him in the space He designated among them to live. Where does He live now? WE are His Temple, I Cor. 6 tells us. What should we offer Him as creativity in His temple now?
As parents, it is our call & responsibility to get to know our children deeply, to understand them better as little people than they do themselves, so we can help them bring out and develop the specific targeted gifts God placed in them for this world at this specific time. Explore with them; play together; give them opportunity after opportunity to try out all kinds of experiences and places, and see what they are drawn to; watch how they process. Then train them up in those things and equip them for those tasks so they can excel. When you do what you were meant to do, the desire for excellence will be inherent.
Titus 3:8 says, “The saying [He has just described the mercy of God shown to us through the sacrifice of Christ] is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.” The phrase “good works” means “inherently good, complete, worthy....calling”. He says God’s work of mercy through Jesus is so that those who believe in God may be careful to devote themselves to a worthy, inherently good calling because those are excellent & profitable for us. Of course; He calls us to do His work excellently because it is good for us.
How can we stand before God and offer Him less than excellence in the very things He put us here to do? Dare to do what God is asking of you; dare to speak that over your children. His World will be blessed by your stepping out in faith & being excellent.