How do you define “excellence”?
The head coach of the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI in 2007, Tony Dungy, whose team won the Super Bowl that year, defines excellence this way: “Excellence is doing something at the very highest level it can be done using all your capabilities and everything God has given you.”
What do you think of Coach Dungy’s definition of excellence?
Read and Respond to 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
24 Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. 25 Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away.
- According to these verses, what do athletes compete for?
- Is it right or wrong for Christian athletes to seek to win the prize of athletic games? Why do you say so?
- What does verse 25 teach us about self-control?
- What does verse 25 teach us about keeping these in eternal perspective?
In terms of excellence and spiritual values, Coach Dungy says this: “If you just practice one day a week, you’re never going to be as good as if you practice every day. And that’s what it’s all about, really. It’s reading and understanding what God wants you to do and then putting it into practice. When you come up a little short and don’t quite get it, don’t give up. Continue to work at it. Say, ‘Okay, Lord, I fell a little bit short in this area. Give me another opportunity to work on it.’ The more you practice those values, the easier they become, and the better you get at them.”
Is Coach Dungy right?
As followers of Christ, we must remember that we are not just on earth to accomplish things for our own benefit. When we have success, we must not become prideful. Coach Dungy says that our purpose behind striving for excellence must always be balanced and in tune with God’s plan for our lives. We can’t just be building “bigger barns” for ourselves.
Read and Respond to Luke 12:13-21
13 Someone from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 “Friend,” He said to him, “who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 He then told them, “Watch out and be on guard against all greed because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions.”
16 Then He told them a parable: “A rich man’s land was very productive. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What should I do, since I don’t have anywhere to store my crops? 18 I will do this,’ he said. ‘I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones and store all my grain and my goods there. 19 Then I’ll say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.”’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared—whose will they be?’
21 “That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
- What is the point of the story?
- What lessons does the story teach us?
- How can a person be rich toward God?
What are your priorities in life?
If excellence to you is only about winning or losing, then you are in danger of pride (if you win all the time) or depression (if you never win). As Coach Dungy says, “Excellence is about how you do things and doing the very best that you can. Excellence doesn’t mean you always have to win or always have to be in first place.”
Excellence for the athlete who is following Christ also means never cutting corners. Excellence includes integrity in every way. Jesus compares a person whose life is built on following Him versus one that is built on anything else.
Read Matthew 7:24-27
24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!”
- What do you learn from these verses?
- How do these verses apply to your life today?
The “big win” is our reward in heaven, to hear the Lord say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Earthly success is fleeting. Do your very best at everything you do. Live your life with excellence. But remember you are on this earth to make a difference in people’s lives for eternity!
Quotes are from Excellence: True Champions Pursue Greatness in All Areas of Life, chapter 1: “The Big Win,” produced by Fellowship of Christian Athletes.