You've probably heard it said (or read, since it's biblical) that whatever you do, do it as though you're doing it for the Lord. Whatever it is, do it for the glory of God. Whether you change tires or toilet paper, invest in banking or diaper stocks, teach or learn, everything you do is a work of God. Thus, your attitude, work effort, work ethic, discipline, etc. all reflect your faith.
The world used to have a similar saying, something that meant basically the same thing - "anything worth doing is worth doing right." I think in a lot of ways, the world has loosened its grip on this idea and changed it to something like, anything worth doing is worth doing cheap. But in some places, the sentiment is still there.
It certainly should still be there for us as Christians, since it's still God's Word and God's desire for us.
This is something I have really taken to heart. No matter what I've done in my life (and I've done a lot of weird stuff), I have always tried to do it to the best of my ability, with the fullness of everything I can give it. So that anyone who watches me knows that something drives me that is greater than myself and that they might see, in some small way, the glory of God.
I have received a lot of comments on my work ethic and discipline and commitment to excellence. Most of them have been favorable, a few have been snide. "Why do you care so much? It's just ______" whatever it is. But it's because I understand that everything that I do is a demonstration of who I am, and every demonstration of who I am is a demonstration of who God made me to be. That means I reflect Him with every breath.
Which is why it bothers me so much when I do things that aren't my best. When I do things that aren't excellent. When I struggle, especially when all eyes are on me. On the days when I can't give any more and can't reach that standard of excellence that I've set for my life, I can really come home and beat myself up. I'm disappointed. I can usually think of at least 2-3 things I could have done better, times when whatever the situation was turned in a direction that it could have - and should have - gone the opposite way. I start to get angry with myself. Sometimes, I start to think I'm nothing but a failure.
I have let myself down. I have let others down. I have let God down.
Most of the time, the problem isn't really my attitude, though. Or my discipline. Or my drive. Or my desire. Most of the time, on the days that I have failed - or think I have - what has really held me back is my humannness. Something broken in me. Something broken in my life. Something broken in my body. Something broken in my heart. Something that keeps me from having any more to bring, even when I know that under normal circumstances, my well would have been deeper.
So for moments like these, which come often in my life, what I'm learning - or trying to learn - is grace.
If you brought your whole self, that brings glory to God. Even if your whole self wasn't quite enough. If you gave everything you had, you brought glory to God, even if you really needed to have more to give. If you did everything to the very best of your ability, that brings glory to God. Even if the very best you have to offer today is only a shadow of the best that you might have to offer on another day.
We don't live perfect lives. We don't. We don't have the kind of consistency in our broken beings that God has in His. Not every day is going to be our best day. (But thank God that not every day is our worst day, either.) We have to stop beating ourselves up - I have to stop beating myself up - when the best that I have today isn't as good as I want it to be. It's still my best. And if I bring that to whatever I'm doing, that is glorifying to God.
That is what He wants.