I saw it first in church history class. Dr. Jason Lee embodied something fresh and exciting. He was a man who felt called to his work, and this sense of calling showed in how he performed his work. Both he and his class profoundly impacted me during my first semester of grad school.
I noticed the same thing working with Dr. John Hammett. Everything he did exuded something, that something I had noticed in Dr. Lee. When he walked in class, you knew the bar had been raised. A student had to bring their best every day. This “air about him” affected everything he did, and it affected me greatly.
A few years later, it was a student named Thomas White. We were doctoral students. Each week a student had to lead the seminar. He was the first one up, and when he was finished, I knew that I was in a whole new world. Yet, it was not an altogether familiar world because I had seen traces in Dr. Lee and Dr. Hammett.
What is this trait I noticed in these three men? Simply put, these men were excellence driven. Every action they performed, they performed to the best of their ability. When they wrote or spoke, what they wrote or spoke was marked with excellence. Their example was then and is now a challenge I embrace.
As Christians, we have the greatest motivation for excellence in the world. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” When we work as believers, we work as ambassadors for Christ. His reputation is at stake. His fame is on the line. Such knowledge motivates us to give our best, to be driven by excellence. The late Dr. Ted Engstrom was right when he said, “Striving for excellence in our work, whatever it is, is not only our Christian duty, but a basic form of Christian witness (The Essential Engstrom, 87).”
At Christ’s Legacy Academy, we embrace this Christian duty that is a vital form of Christian witness. We strive for excellence because we serve a God who is excellent, who works with excellence, and who loves with excellence. So we seek to honor him by being excellence driven in all that we do.
How can we do this? Engstrom gives a helpful answer. “[P]eople who truly excel in their endeavors are invariably the ones who early on (1) determine clear-cut goals, and (2) habitually direct all their energies toward fulfilling them. The decision to go after a goal is the key to success. The determination to stay with it is what brings out the quality of excellence (Engstrom, 90).”