(Note: Be Great for God is part of a series being taught at Calvary United Pentecostal Church in Springfield, Missouri. Audio of this lesson and others in the four part series are at SpringfieldCalvary.church. This is the lesson as in my notes. The original outlining does not make the cut and paste process. If you would like to have a copy of the teacher’s notes, student handout, etc. email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. )
Review prior week’s lesson: Disciplined to Greatness
- Discipline is a non-negotiable for greatness for God.
- Greatness builds on the basics, and the basics can never be eliminated.
- “Be Great for God” will never exclude spiritual discipline. Tools provided to establish spiritual discipline: A.C.T.S. model of prayer, Prayer Clock, Prayer guide for a week, and “Covenant to be Disciplined for Greatness.
Things You Must Know
. . . it is a wretched waste to be gratified with mediocrity when the excellent lies before us.
Issac D’Israeli, 1834
I. Key observations regarding the idea of “Seek to Excel!” as we focus on “Be Great for God!”:
A. Excellence is a “God thing.”
B. The opportunity to excel is different for each person.
C. To excel seldom depends on natural talent, but is based on focus, learning about the area of focus and applying oneself to excel at a particular thing.
II. Excellence is a “God thing.”
A. God does the things He does with excellence.
1. At creation – repeatedly – it is good! (Genesis 1:7,11)
2. Water made “best wine” – John 2:9-11
B. God desires excellence by His people:
1. The word to a preacher – Study to show thyself approved a workman who needeth not to be ashamed (2 Timothy 2:15)
2. Spiritual gifts are to be used with excellence to build up the church (1 Corinthians 14:12)
3. 2 Corinthians 8:6-8 is instruction in giving. Paul expresses his observation about the people in Corinth. You abound in faith, utterance (you speak well), knowledge, diligence – refers to their eagerness to serve, and love for Paul.
1. The phrase translated “abound in everything” is translated in the ESV as “excel.”
2. The word means to “super abound.”
C. The builders of tabernacle and temple were denoted for the skill of their work.
D. God – does excellent work AND instructs that we not be mediocre, slouchy or sloppy. Excellence is not an option.
III. The opportunity to excel is different for each person:
A. Consider how different we all look. We are equally different in our temperament and the way God bolted us together. Each is different in what God puts into us.
1. Psalms 139:14 – Hebrew word “wonderfully” means “to distinguish” We are made with distinction – in virtually every way.
2. Romans 12:6 – Having then gifts differing.
1. Ashley – guitar
2. Michael – illusion
3. John and Carole – picture of cake(s)
4. Carrie Cook – crochet
5. Shelli Allen – author, teaches seminars on “working with special needs children.”
6. Sis. Coon – album
7. Karla Cook – seamstress work
8. Sam Kahre – likely one of the ten best diesel mechanics within 100 miles of here.
9. Mike Bennett can take a bomb of an antique radio or gramophone, rebuild it, refinish it and have it playing.
10. Lana Kincaid – writes and does photography for “Nanny” magazine.
11. Familiar with Mexican Villa and have eaten their hot sauce – for 34 yearsLee Denny managed the factory that made their tortillas and hot sauce.
12. Pam Eddings author of 3 books, and edits the writing of multiple authors – including my own.
13. Paul Maddox – slipped up and did not have a 4.0 GPA earning his Bachelor’s degree, 4.0 with Master’s and Doctorate.
14. I’ve written nineteen books
15. Excellent woodwork and carpentry – John Curtis along with others
16. School teachers, managers, business people, musicians, singers who can hit a note and understand the different between tenor, alto and soprano
17. Ladies who are exceptional mothers and house-wives; men who are extraordinary fathers and providers.
18. Maestros of the kitchen – banana pudding, biscuits, etc. .
C. Fearfully and wonderfully made – distinct – not alike, but every single excellence can be of service to the community, the church and to the cause of Jesus Christ.
A poem captures the concept of being excellent in your distinction:
IT CAN BE DONE:
If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill,
Be a scrub in the valley–but be
The best little scrub by the side of the rill;
Be a bush if you can’t be tree.
If you can’t be a bush, be a bit of the grass,
And some highway some happier make;
If you can’t be the muskie, then just be a bass-
But the liveliest bass in the lake!
If you can’t be a highway, then just be a trail;
If you can’t be the sun, be a star,
It isn’t by size that you win or you fail–
Be the best of whatever you are.
IV. Excellence is not luck or being born with talent, though the latter certainly can be of benefit. Excellence is based on focus, learning and applying oneself to excel.
A. The concepts that produce excellence are consistent whether one is bent toward electronics, academics, music or woodwork.
1. Ecclesiasties 9:10 Whatever your hand findeth to do – do it with all thy might. (might = vigor, ability)
2. Work is the true elixir of life. The busiest man is the happiest man. Excellence in any art or profession is attained only by hard and persistent work. (Sir Theodore Martin)
B. In Jim Collins book Good to Great which is about how corporations become great he talks of what he calls: The Hedgehog Concept. The term hedgehog comes from an ancient Greek parable with contrasts “the fox who knows many things,” with the hedgehog who “knows one thing.” The hedgehox is focused on finding a bit of food, the fox bounds about – covering much ground. Collins says “great companies” have a hedgehog approach.
1. What does that have to do with excellence for God: Everything! Those who attain excellence will be to a great degree: hedgehogs. In essence, they will “know one thing.”
2. In being great for God, the following questions have to be asked:
1. What is a thing that I can be great at?
2. What is a thing that can produce a “return on investment” for the Lord’s work? A “return on investment” is measured as –
(1) Getting visitors to church
(2) Seeing people converted
(3) Assisting in the personal growth of others
(4) Impacting service to the church and community
(5) Disciples for Christ.
3. What do I have a passion to do and accomplish?
3. The answers to those three questions that are included in the student handout define what the “hedgehog” – one thing should be.
4. The Hedgehog Concept that leads to greatness is not a vision or strategy, but an understanding. An understanding of what we can do, right now with what we possess, our talents and abilities.
C. A further point drawn from Good to Great – excellence looks dramatic but it is actually organic and cumulative. This is – “the teacup #12 concept.”
1. Teacup #12 at Silver Dollar City – has no governor to limit the speed.
1. You can get the teacup spinning at what is a dizzying speed.
2. Things get to moving so fast – and from the inside it feels dramatic, from the outside it looks fast. It is fast!
3. But the speed is actually the cumulative effort of eight hands on the wheel in the middle – moving in the same direction, in concert – “over and over and over.”
2. Excellence is not the result of a single defining action, there is no grand program, not a lucky break or miracle moment. Excellence is a result of doing the same thing over and over again – going in the same direction, all energy focused on the one thing!
- Decide what it is that you wish to excel in. Don’t become unfocused. None of us do everything well. To discover what one is “not” to do is a high point of life.
- Associate with those who excel at something. Don’t be intimidated by excellence, but engage excellence.
- Teachers – listen to yourself teach.
- Preachers – listen to yourself teach.
- Singers – listen to a recording of yourself singing; particularly when aiming to do as well as some other person.
- Practice – makes perfect . . . not true . . . Perfect practice prepares for perfect perfomance.
- Unless it is an absolute necessity, don’t try to do a thing that is not a strength. Me cooking Sunday lunch.
- We won’t do what we are not capable of . . .
- Connect to people who excel – pick their brain, listen to them . . . they are reading books – they are watching TED, looking at Youtube videos on “how” to do a thing. Ask questions: (1) What are you reading now? (2) Can you show me or tell me how you do that? (3) Would you take this audio of me singing or speaking and critique it? Don’t tell me I’m good – tell me what might have improved on.
Toward Next Week:
Tools to begin your journey of excellence!
I am gifted at (list three things you and at least two other people have expressed you to be good at):
Answer the hedgehog questions:
- I can be great at: ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- I can produce a “return on investment” for the Lord’s work by: _______________________________________________________________________________________________________
- I have a passion to accomplish the following: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
From your answer to those three questions, what do you envision as a focus for “being great for God.”
Resources that may help you seek to excel:
Overdrive is a free app available to anyone who lives in Greene County and has a library card. Overdrive allows you to check out books, audiobooks and training videos for phone and tablets. Many of the recommended books are from the Greene County Library.
Tom Peters book (available on audio) – In Search of Excellence
Jim Collins book (available on audio) – Good to Great
James Kouzes and Barry Posner’s book (available on audio) – The Leadership Challenge
Chuck Swindoll book – Living Above the Level of Mediocrity
Florence Littauer book – It Takes So Little to Be Above Average
Carlton Coon book – If Everybody Here Were Just Like Me . . . What Kind of Church Would This Church Be?
The most important thing in life is to live your life for something more important than your life.
Philosopher William James