Monday, August 10, 2020

A Commitment to Excellence

For reasons I still don't entirely understand, I have been taking on a lot of landscaping projects this summer. I'll admit that there's something about the finished product, something about the end result that gets to me. I just love the way the land looks without all those weeds and all that overgrowth in it, when the flowers are free to finally pop through or the vegetables take root and start to flower. When the mulch still smells fresh. 

I post pictures on social media of my conquests because, well, isn't that what we do these days? My hope, honestly, is to inspire others with something beautiful, to give them a glimpse of new life breaking through, to show them what things can look like with a little hard work - the pay off is amazing. 

But, as social media tends to go, I can't control the responses of others and my intentions don't always hit the nail, and so one thing I've heard over and over again as I post one clear ground after another, one new bloom after another, is: Wow. That's amazing. Are you available for hire?

The answer is both "almost always, yes" because I like to work and I like to bless others, but also "ugh, no" because the truth is...I hate landscaping. Hate it. The only around-the-house task that I hate more than landscaping is painting. Honestly. Now, when I tell others that I hate landscaping, the typical response is something like, "But you're so good at it!" 

To which I say, never confuse completing a task well with the enjoyment of said task. In other words, just because I do something well doesn't mean I've enjoyed doing it. 

You've probably heard that you should do everything as though for the Lord. Work every job with His glory in mind. This is exactly what we're talking about. You don't have to enjoy something to do it well, and you don't have to enjoy it to do it for His glory. So when you look at pictures of my garden all tilled up or with the flowers showing through or next to its 'before' picture with all the weeds that are now gone, it's not because I got 'in the groove' and loved what I was doing and labored to do it to perfection. 

It's because from the very moment that I began the project, I committed myself to doing it with excellence, as though for the Lord. It's because I knew when I took it on that the end result says something about the kind of person that I am, and because I am a person who loves God and who is loved by God, the end result ought to say something about what that means. And what that means is that I give wholly of myself, do things well, finish the job, and take ownership of my work. 

In fact, if I cannot do these things, then I will not even begin the task. I just won't take it on. If it's something that I think is unlikely to end as a witness to His goodness and grace, then I don't do it. Because if I half-heart it, if I leave it unfinished, if I take shortcuts through it, if I do only the bare minimum instead of the full work, then that says something about who I am, too - and whatever says something about who I am says something about who my God is. 

Our lives are full of tasks we don't enjoy, but things that must be done nonetheless. Our days are filled with invitations to do things we don't love, but often for persons who we do love. We don't have the luxury, nor should we pretend that we do, of simply opting out of everything that doesn't bring us joy. Some things are just part of life. 

But nor do we have the luxury of doing the bare minimum on them, of just squeaking by, of doing just enough to check a box off a list and doing things, but not doing them well. Everything we do is for the Lord, everything for His glory. The work we undertake in the world, whether we love it or hate it, says something about who we are and that means that it says something about who our God is. Which means that when you look at the end result of something I've done for you, I want you to know, without a doubt, four things: I love God. God loves me. God loves you. I love you. 

And that's what excellence says. All of that. 

Do everything as though you are doing it for the Lord, for His glory. Because you are. 

Even if you hate landscaping. 

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