The Greek word for excellence is "arete" and it is most often defined as "virtuous thoughts feelings, actions; moral excellence and purity."
My first reaction, when I hear "excellence" is to think of the best of something. The people and things that have achieved the highest levels of success.
And while that is true, there is another definition. One I found far more interesting.
It turns out the the word "arete" could also be used to describe anything in nature that was fulfilling its purpose. A field ripe with grain was excellent. A tree heavy with fruit was excellent. A tool doing its job was excellent.
As I pondered this definition, I realized I need to tweak my idea of excellence.
Ephesians 2:10 tells us that "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (ESV)
If you are fulfilling God's purposes for your life, then you are living in excellence.
You'll note I didn't say if you are "successful" or "famous" or "rich" or "popular."
It seems to me that the vast majority of people who are fulfilling the call God has on their lives are doing so in virtual obscurity.
Do you remember the photos from yesterday's post? That red leaf was probably blooming on the trees in my backyard when we moved here several months ago. It spent it's lifetime shading my home. Maybe it was one of the chorus that waved and sang to me as I found my way to my ugly chair again and again. Then, the chlorophyll faded, the leaf turned loose from the branch, and it floated to rest, nestled against the ferns under my kitchen window, where it once again drew my heart to praise the Creator for His marvelous works.
That leaf is excellent.
The fragile flower didn't question it's location when it was time to grow and bloom. It didn't point out that growing up in the crack of my driveway was a surefire way to a shortened existence. It didn't argue that if it had only landed a few feet away it probably would have been allowed to live a much longer life. No. It grew. It fulfilled its purpose. And, as the leaf, called out to me, "Lynn, I'm doing my part? Are you doing yours?"
The flower is excellent.
How about you? Have you fallen into the trap of thinking that you aren't living a life of excellence because you aren't meeting the world's definition of 'success'?
Spend some time today thinking about true excellence . . . and be renewed.