The world around us is obsessed with appearance. It’s so prominent that I don’t think I even have to offer many examples of it. People put so much effort into how they look, how their house looks, and on and on. Businesses and organization spend major money on websites and other digital presences.
For the most part, there is good value in all of this. A good image and excellence in appearance is a good thing.
There is an abundance of resources available about striving for excellence. In our life, business, and work we should strive for excellence.
While the definition of excellence where the lines of it are can be debated, I think the one thing we can all agree on is the importance of putting our best foot forward in what we do.
Whether or not you believe the Bible is a spiritual guide for your life, it is filled with many good lessons of life and interesting stories. There is one particular story in the ancient scripture that addresses the idea of excellence in a unique way.
In the book of Exodus, the author gives us the description of the ancient Israelites building a portable place of worship to their God. One of the items used in worship was the Ark of the Covenant. Yes, that Ark as portrayed in Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The first part of Exodus chapter 37 describes the making of the Ark and includes an interesting statement:
…He overlaid (the ark) with pure gold, both inside and out, and made a gold molding around it…-Exodus 37:1-2
This thing was beautiful and sacred and they took their time making it. It was extravagant.
I want to highlight the fact that they overlaid the INSIDE with gold. Here’s why that is so noteworthy. No one was ever going to see the inside of it.
Seriously, they could have used anything for the inside. There was no reason to use gold. Covering the outside with gold made sense. The Ark would make some public appearances and was an altar of worship. But the inside?
They did it because they believed it was for God. In their mind, God deserved the best, seen or unseen. Their standard of excellence wasn’t just appearance based.
In our lives and work, I wonder if we are really striving to do things with excellence or just the appearance of excellence?
I know it is possible to make something look really good and yet have no substance behind it. Anyone that has ever done anything in theater, TV, or movies can tell you that some of those sets and props might look impressive, but in reality they are weak and just a facade. It’s fake.
Fake can look good for a time and fool many people, but it never withstands a real test.
But even beyond that, this is about true excellence. Doing things just as well that aren’t seen as those that are.
Getting a little bit personal:
- Do I put the real work in behind the scenes? Or only when it is seen?
- Am I prompt and dependable?
- Is my communication timely and clear?
- Do I plan ahead?
- Am I prepared when I am using other people’s time?
- Do I speak well of others at all times? Whether or not they will know?
- Do I monitor my private thoughts? Even though they aren’t known?
- Am I a loving, kind, thoughtful person to my family behind closed doors?
Real excellence is not just making something that will be seen pretty. Real excellence is doing the work on the inside so that the work on the outside is an authentic representation of the whole. Real excellence is doing it the right way because it is the right way. Real excellence is taking care of the details, even when they may not be seen.
If our lives are lives that are worth living, then we need to put forth the effort to make them truly worthwhile. If we have purpose in what we are doing in our jobs and activities then we should put our absolute best effort into them and make them excellent.
It’s not enough to layer the outside with gold, we need to layer the inside also. That is a job done with excellence!