This goes against many of the thoughts about excellence that I grew up with:
- "You can't be excellent at everything."
- "Focus on your strengths and let someone else look after the rest."
- "Pick your central theme - be excellent at that - and the other things will fall into place".
Really? Is excellence something that I have to reserve for special occasions? Do I have a limit on the excellence I can produce - so I need to be careful to apportion it sparingly?
Aristotle put it this way: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act, but a habit." Is it possible - that in our churches, we have reverted to having excellence as an occasional act, rather than an all-pervading habit?
Disney doesn't always get things right. But you would be a harsh critic not to notice their commitment to excellence in everything.
There are four Disney theme parks in Orlando. My wife and I needed to travel between two of them. Disney runs an all-day shuttle service between its four properties. Shuttle buses are hardly Disney's core business. Their core business is the theme parks. The shuttle buses are merely a logistical necessity.
But everything about the shuttle bus exuded excellence. The driver welcomed us warmly. The bus was in great shape. As we pulled out from the kerb, a commentary came on the PA. "You are riding the Disney Transportation System. Our buses are maintained to the highest possible standard ..." And so it went. Yes - they gave us the information we needed, but everything about that bus ride made us believe that for those people involved in this 'ancillary' service, that bus ride was the most important part of our day. And they were going to do whatever it took to make it work for us.
Martin Luther King Jr put it this way: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
The bible puts it this way: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working fir the Lord, not for men." (Colossians 3:23)
So here's the question: Who better understands the exhortation to do everything with excellence - The Disney Corporation - or the Church?
Years ago, as a youth pastor, we ran a weekly youth group. We honestly wanted to hit the standard of excellence. Central to the night was the preaching of God's word. We wanted that to be excellent. We set a standard for our preaching to be "world class".
As part of the night, we had a canteen, where our high-schoolers could purchase refreshments and snacks. We called it "The Snack Shack". Was this central to our ministry? Was it our core business? Hardly. It was a side-issue. But our aim was to make it the best Snack Shack that our high schoolers had ever experienced. This meant we had a leader whose only job was to head up the Snack Shack. That meant that they spent a few hours each week researching new products and stocking the shelves. That meant that our leaders who helped serve on that team weren't just there to process a transaction; their aim was to build relationships with the students during their experience of spending time with us.
So, at your church, is excellence an act - or is it a habit? Is it an action - or is it an attitude? Is it reserved for special events - or is it all-pervasive? Do you aim for excellence only in the things you think are central (your preaching, your music etc), or does your whole team have an attitude of excellence in everything? What experience will your guests have in the car-park? In your restrooms? At your coffee machine? On your website? In your church office? At the rego desk for your children's ministry?
Who better understands the exhortation to do everything with excellence - The Disney Corporation - or your Church?
Quicklinks to the five commitments:
1. Embrace your guests: Every staff member knows their real job
2. Embrace Excellence
3. Embrace the unexpected
4. Embrace the future
5. Embrace possibility thinking