A few weeks ago, I spoke to a youth group on that one thing that is a guarantee of success in life, the discovery and fulfillment of purpose. At the event, I highlighted the fact that success in life is not because of advancement in one’s career, rather it is the degree to which one fulfills purpose that determines success. In essence, a successful person is one who has preoccupied his life with his purpose.
I stated that the discovery of purpose as the point at which one’s passion finds direction from God, and from that point, it is up to the individual to work out that purpose until it begins to yield fruit in increasing measure. The fact that you have discovered purpose does not mean that you will succeed. You have to put in the excellent work required to grow in your purpose until it begins to create opportunities for expression. I went on to share that once you discover purpose, there is a grace that is available to you to grow in increasing measures in the areas of your competence required for fulfilling purpose.
Looking at the life of the missionary Paul as an example, he was able to say, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (1 Cor. 15:10). Alluding to the fact that God’s grace was responsible for him developing competence in the area of his calling.
A young man in attendance asked me to shed more light on the discuss of “uncommon grace and uncommon work ethics.” I thought this was a great question, and the answer should extend beyond him to thousands of others who have a desire to succeed and to stand out in life.
The dictionary defines mediocrity as being “moderate to inferior in quality”. In other words, to be average is to be mediocre. Too often, people put in just enough effort to get things rolling; working just enough to pay the bills, providing just enough service to keep the business open, working just enough at the job to not get fired. The world is filled of mediocre products and people all fighting for the same market, jobs and attention. Those who get noticed are those who have learned to put in above average efforts in order to stand out. These people make more sacrifices, and in turn receive greater rewards.
For you to stand out, you must be excellent in your work ethics. To be excellent is to put in what is necessary to deliver above and beyond what is required or expected of you. This means if you’re a student, you’re not just looking to pass the class, but excellent work demands you get an A+. If you’re an employee, you’re preparing a report with excellent work ethics as if you were delivering it to your CEO. Also as an employee, you’re not just working to keep the job, rather your excellent work ethic dictates that you work like you owned a portion of the business. If you’re a business owner, excellent work requires you to deliver greater value (tangible and/or intangible) above what your customer expects of you.
A business counselor once told me that many restaurants shut down because of poor service, and not because of bad food. Think about it, you go to a restaurant expecting to eat good food. Your expectations are high in that area, so it is very difficult to beat your expectation there. However you appreciate it more (a feel good feeling) when you are treated like a celebrity as you enjoy a good meal. The excellent service makes the food taste much better, thereby winning you as a patron.
For you to deliver excellence in your work, the first thing to do is for you to find out what is generally acceptable in your market space. Take time to understand what your client, boss, professor, or customer expects. Take it a step further, and find out what your competitor in the market space is doing. The intersection between these two sets the baseline for where your starting point should be. Certainly you may not have the resources that are available to others, but it’s not what you have that’s the problem, it is what you have that you don’t make use of. Many times, what’s required to deliver excellence is not tangible. There are numerous soft skills that you can develop that will automatically set you apart from everyone else. Moreover, there is always the grace of God that is available to set you apart from everyone else, despite your limitations.
The Biblical story of Moses and Aaron in the courts of Pharaoh illustrates this principle of grace (Exo.7:8-13). Moses and Aaron had returned to Pharaoh as a messenger from God, demanding the release of the enslaved Israelites, to which Pharaoh requested for a sign. Aaron dropped his rod which turned into a snake. Pharaoh laughed at this gesture, and called for his magicians, who performed the same “trick”. The difference however, is that the rod turned snake of Aaron, swallowed that of the Egyptian magicians (Exo.7:12). This goes on to show that you must be as good as the best guy out there, but with God’s grace on your life, what you do will swallow everyone else.
Too many times, people are expecting a divine intervention and substitute their expectation for the much needed work on their part. Grace is a multiplier, and its results are exponentially seen when a person resolves to perform excellent work. Having an excellent attitude to work is not a one time thing, rather it is an ongoing effort to be the best at what you do. You’re mixing your faith with works. Your faith has taken hold of you until it shapes your attitude and perception of your surrounding.
Your faith creates the expectancy for God’s grace, and when faced with challenges, you have a divine infusion of energy that enables you deliver the above average work that is required of you. This also means that when things begin to look awry in your work, you know that you’re not stuck because of your environment, but you have the ability to transcend the limitations of your environment.
Resolve to be excellent in your work. Depend on God’s grace to develop your skills far beyond mediocrity, and its a guarantee that you will be elevated this year!