Sunday, April 10, 2016

Devotion 4.11.16

Jordan Spieth went into the final 9 holes of The Masters with a certain win.  He led for the first three rounds and had four birdies in a row on the front nine of the last round.  And then came number 11.  I was on the road, and I was listening to The Masters in the car. First shot in the creek.  Drop the creek.  Next shot... in the sand.  Jordan went from the lead to three back in one hole.  Like that, he was done. 

When we speak of excellence, we don't speak of perfection.  Unfortunately, we too often put ourselves up against impossible expectations, and unfortunately, we have people who claim to be friends who make us feel as though perfection is an expectation.  Yet there is a vast difference between excellence and perfection.  One is attainable, and one is not.  One is a frame of mind, and the other a game you play with yourself or others play with you.

Excellence may result in a win, and excellence may result in failure.  Either way, a person seeking excellence puts their hat in the ring and strives to be the best he or she can.  Theodore Roosevelt said it this way in one of my favorite quotes in life:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."  Theodore Roosevelt, "Man in the Arena," Citizenship in a Republic speech in Sorbonne, France, 1910

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face if marred by dust and sweat and blood.... because there is no effort without error and shortcoming."  You got out there, and you fought the good fight.  That is excellence, win, lose or draw.  Paul says it this way:  "We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." (Romans 5)

Excellence doesn't mean greatness.  Excellence doesn't mean a sure victory.  Excellence means being in the arena.  Excellence means endurance, maybe even as we suffer.  That endurance means character because we learn to enjoy the great enthusiasms and devotions, spending our time in a worthy cause, that of Christ and him crucified, even when it may mean loss.  And if (and when) we fail, at least we fail while daring greatly, in the name of Christ.  Yet we never want to be numbered among those timid, those "lukewarm" men (Revelation), who know neither victory or defeat.

Hope Men's Minisitry

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