Monday, February 13, 2006

Examples in Excellence

I recently wrote in my post “Suffering in Media Ministry” about mediocrity or settling for less in our daily walk with Christ and in our ministries. I wrote about striving for excellence in all that we do for the glory of God. There have been some other good posts concerning the same thing recently in “Dealing with Mistakes” by Anthony Coppedge and “Is EXCELLENCE a dirty word?” by Jeffrey Jones at (not to be confused with Check these articles out when you get a chance.

I believe that many times when you start to talk about pursuing excellence then people have the perception that you want perfection. That is just not true. The definition of excellence is the quality of excelling; possessing good qualities in high degree and the definition of excel is to distinguish oneself or to do or be better than; surpass. The definition of perfection is the state of being without a flaw or defect. Well, we all know that we are not perfect. We are not without sin and we are going to make mistakes. What we do when we sin in our daily lives or make mistakes in the ministry determines whether or not we are pursuing excellence. I want to distinguish myself before the Lord. I want to surpass the old life of sin and I want to do better in the ministry in which God has called me to serve.
2 Peter 1:3 - 9 (NLT) 3As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness! 4And by that same mighty power, he has given us all of his rich and wonderful promises. He has promised that you will escape the decadence all around you caused by evil desires and that you will share in his divine nature.
5So make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises to your life. Then your faith will produce a life of moral excellence. A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better. 6Knowing God leads to self-control. Self-control leads to patient endurance, and patient endurance leads to godliness. 7Godliness leads to love for other Christians, and finally you will grow to have genuine love for everyone. 8The more you grow like this, the more you will become productive and useful in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But those who fail to develop these virtues are blind or, at least, very shortsighted. They have already forgotten that God has cleansed them from their old life of sin.

You can’t say it any better than God’s Word. I believe that as we are given everything to live a godly life that will produce a life of moral excellence we will also be given the power to produce a ministry of excellence. Like I have said before if God has called you to a particular ministry then why would He not give you everything you need to accomplish His will? I wish people would stop putting God in a box. God is able to do exceedingly more than we can think to ask. Let God be the determining factor in your pursuits and not your own limited thinking.

I had the great privilege of witnessing the pursuance of excellence this past weekend in the form of the recording studio. What a pleasure it was to watch a group of men not settle for mediocrity.

My worship pastor, Rusty Fleming, along with Donna Thomas and Marie Broome make up the singing group Surrender that are based out of our church. Last year when they were performing at a gig in the Raleigh, NC area they caught the attention of Winslow Stillman. He liked what he heard and wanted to bring them into the studio.

Winslow Stillman has over 40 years experience in the music business. He is an award-winning music and broadcast producer, having created highly successful syndicated radio shows, including NASCAR Country, and Thunder Road, and the internationally syndicated program, The Road. As a producer in Nashville, Winslow worked in the studio with artists such as Dobie Gray, Kathy Mattea, Pam Tillis, Bela Flek, Burl Ives, and Jimmy Hall. An accomplished songwriter and guitarist in several genres, he has performed with various ensembles and has appeared on national TV as a vocalist.

Winslow along with bass player Gene Barrio and drummer Karl von Gunten continued to impress me with their attention to detail, finesse and their pursuit of excellence. Gene amazed me with his ear for not only his bass part but for everyone else part as well. Karl’s determination to get it right was refreshing but even better was his humble spirit. I really enjoyed talking to Karl over a couple of days. His personality has him at a disadvantage in a room full of prima- donnas. :>)
Winslow’s ability to arrange on the fly, play lead guitar, record and provide overall leadership was a thing to behold. All of them are fine musicians. Did they have the best gear in a state of the art studio with the finest of instruments? No. Did they do the best they could with what they had? Absolutely! Did they make mistakes? Yes. Did they say "that's good enough"? Absolutely not! Let me clarify that what they have to use is better than anything I have ever had permission to touch.

Now, I don’t know where these guys are in their relationship with Jesus Christ but on a praise and worship recording project these guys brought honor to God by their attitudes and by doing the very best that they could possibly do before the Lord. You could consider this a ministry for these guys so what else was really great to see was that family comes before ministry. You have heard me say or saw my writings before in which I have stated that God is first then family and then ministry. These guys practice that very thing. This past weekend a couple of family obligations took precedence over recording and that is the way it should be.

I want to thank these guys for allowing me to hang out with them but most of all to thank them for the examples in excellence.

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