Mediocrity is fast becoming the byword of our times. Every imaginable excuse is now used to make it acceptable, hopefully preferred. Budget cuts, time deadlines, majority opinion, and hard-nosed practicality are outshouting and outrunning excellence. Those forces seem to be winning the race. Incompetence and status quo averages are held up as all we can now expect, and the tragedy is that more and more people have virtually agreed. Why worry over the small stuff? Why bother with the genuine now that the artificial looks so real? If the public buys it, why sweat it?
To make it painfully plain, why think clearly since most folks want someone else to think for them? Why live differently in a society where it’s so much easier to look the same and swim downstream? Why fight fiercely when so few seem to care? Why stand courageously if it means risking ridicule, misunderstanding, or being considered a dreamer by some and a fool by others?
Why, indeed? To quote young David just before he took on that Philistine behemoth in the Valley of Elah, “Is there not a cause?” Must we wait for someone else to establish our standard or to set our pace? Not on your life! It is my firm conviction that those who impact and reshape the world are the ones committed to living above the level of mediocrity. There are still too many opportunities for excellence, too much demand for distinctiveness, to be satisfied with just getting by.
Excellence is a difficult concept to communicate because it can easily be misread as neurotic perfectionism or snooty sophistication. But it is neither. On the contrary, it is the stuff of which greatness is made. It is the difference between just getting by and soaring—that which sets apart the significant from the superficial, the lasting from the temporary.
A commitment to excellence is neither popular nor easy. But it is essential. Excellence in integrity and morality as well as ethics and scholarship. Excellence in physical fitness and spiritual fervor just as much as excellence in relationships and craftsmanship.
Since it is the living Lord in the final analysis who appraises our excellence, it is He whom we must please and serve, honor and adore.
Excerpt taken from Dear Graduate: Letters of Wisdom from Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2007 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. For additional information and resources visit us at www.insight.org.