Is “Excellence” the Road Less Traveled?

I was recently asked to speak during a business women’s luncheon at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. As I prayed about what God would have me say, my attention was continuously drawn to one specific word…excellence. One day as I was preparing, my life flashed before my eyes. In that moment, I began to assess my actions and efforts, past and present, which led me to ask a couple of questions…

  • What does it truly mean to be excellent?
  • Is excellence today’s standard or is it overshadowed by success?
  • Are excellence and success comparable?

The online dictionary’s definitions explain excellence as the very best, possessing good qualities in high degree, a higher standard than set by culture or the world, giving your best. But forty-two years of life (and a little research) has taught me more about excellence than Webster ever could.

Here are 10 things I’ve realized about excellence:

  1. Excellence and perfection are not synonymous. Excellence is doing all you have with what you have in a particular season of life.
  2. Excellence and success are not interchangeable. Culturally, success is measured by title, prestige, and status. But while success, by the world’s standards, is only available to a few, excellence can be achieved by all. Excellence can lead to success, but success does not always equate to excellence.
  3. Excellence knows when to say no. Excellence does not attempt to be all things to all people all the time. (which leads to #4…)
  4. Excellence does not over promise and under deliver.
  5. Excellence goes beyond that which it feels like doing. It is fueled by will not want (see last week’s post!). Excellence goes the extra mile.
  6. Excellence understands that its only competitor is itself.
  7. Excellence does not live in the past, but moves forward unrestricted by yesterday.
  8. Excellence is the measure used to evaluate decisions and actions based on the highest quality you have to offer.
  9. Excellence is a process and is intentional. Pat Riley, one of the greatest NBA coaches of all times once said, “Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.”
  10. Unlike success, excellence does not always make the headlines, but is most often noticed when it is no longer there.

My discussion with the ladies during the luncheon began with one of my favorite poems but today, I think I’ll close with an excerpt. The final stanza of The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost says this…

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Ahead of each of us are various roads. Much like the poet, we too must make a decision as to which path we will choose. The road of excellence. The road to success. The road that gains the approval of others. The road of dormancy due to indecisiveness. And although all roads are not mutually exclusive, I must ask…

In today’s society, is excellence the road less traveled?

Now, share your heart with me. Looking forward to your perspective on excellence.

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Y is for Yes!!!

ARE YOU READY TO SAY YES??????????

Before you answer, let me tell you what God told me as I headed to the rooftop because I wanted to shout my “YES” to the world.

He said, “You are correct. Y stands for yes, but sing the childhood tune once again.” So I did. A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y.  God then asked, “Do you understand?” I hesitated because I had a feeling He had something up His holy sleeve. Then He said, “My child, this is where the problem lies. Your yes is not consistent. “And sometimes yes” is not sufficient for where I am taking you. Your yes must be constant like Joshua’s.

Throughout the book of Joshua, Joshua trusted God. I could only find one instance where uncertainty crept in but God quickly gave Joshua instructions as to how he should handle the situation. After following God’s instructions, again his faith was strong. Joshua’s humility was grounded in the confident expectation that God would do just what He promised. Did it always make sense? No. Were God’s instructions always easy? No. But Joshua understood that Truth begets truth. God’s promises were “yes and amen” to Joshua and they are still “yes and amen” today.

But what about us???

Our yes is often dependent on a number of variables. We want to say yes:

When it’s convenient
When it adds to our comfort
When the odds are in our favor
When the opposition is a molehill instead of a mountain
When we can see the ram in the bush
When we can go across but someone else raises the rod or gets their feet wet first
When His instructions make sense
When the unwillingness to change is external not internal
When He answers all our questions

As I took another look at the book of Joshua, I realized something even greater. Joshua spoke very seldom. Yes, he gave the people instructions from God, but Joshua was not a man of chatter. Even during his last days on earth, his words were pertinent and purposeful. Could that have been how he remained in harmony with God? He listened more than he talked. I believe Joshua understood Proverbs 18:21: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Could it be that he was so committed to speaking life that he only regurgitated that which the Father said? Could this explain his recurring yes? Joshua gave the enemy nothing to work with. Words of doubt and death he did not utter. His yes could not be coerced because even his words were grounded in God’s promise.

But what about us???

Could this be why our yes is so erratic? Is our inconsistent yes the by-product of the prophetic poison spoken from our lips instead of the prophetic promise? Is our own godless chatter muting the voice of our Father and filling our minds with toxic venom that yields a fickled yes?

God is looking for those who will be like Joshua: Focused, Faithful, and Futuristic.

Does that describe you? Are You Ready To Say YES??? If you are ready, type YES here in the comment section or on social media. I’m ready to say yes and I hope you are too!

 

 

“O” is for Opposition

What is your “this”?

I know you are wondering what in the world is she talking about??? But all of us have one. Some of us admit and deal with our “this”. Some of us tip toe around our “this”. Some of us act as if our “this” does not even exist. “This” is simply your greatest opposition. What keeps you from successfully moving forward? When you take one step forward, what is the opposing force that causes you to take two steps back? Your “this” may be internal or external, but if “this” has hindered you from trying, achieving, or succeeding, then “this” has got to go! It’s a new year and we are taking over new territory! But the only way we will continue to thrive is to handle our “this” like….Joshua.

Let’s go back to Joshua 7.

Joshua had to make a decision.  His men had just been defeated in a battle that should have been unproblematic. Several lost their lives, while others fled in fear. The opposition was real. The opposition had gained the upper hand. The opposition was now experiencing the victory which had been promised to Joshua. And Joshua wanted to know why!

When he went to God for an answer, God was straight with him. Not only did God tell him why he and his men had been defeated, God also made this profound statement, “I will not stay with you any longer unless you completely rid yourselves of ‘this’ sin.” Yes, God made it very clear. Joshua’s choices were “this” or God. So how did Joshua respond? Scripture says, “Early the next morning…” Joshua wasted no time in identifying or calling out his opposition. He was not going to rest until he figured out what “this” was. Nothing was going to separate Joshua from the God whom he knew as faithful, provider, sustainer, deliverer, and way maker.

So we already know how the situation ended. It was Achan.  Achan was Joshua’s “this”. Achan’s inability to follow God’s instructions positioned him as Joshua’s opposition. Two who once walked together were no longer in agreement and “this” was an issue.

Joshua was relentless until he pinpointed his “this”, but what about you? Who or what is your opposition? Let me be very clear. Contrary to Joshua’s “this” being external, often our opposition is internal. The opposition may be fear, the need for approval, the past, pride, lack of focus, even ineffective communication. The list could go on and on, but the point is…Whatever your opposition or your “this”, be like Joshua and call it out. Don’t allow “this” to stifle your drive and determination. Don’t allow “this” to keep you in a place of mediocrity. And definitely don’t let “this” separate you from your Father. I love the fact that Joshua actually took it a step further. After calling “this” out, Joshua made sure it was destroyed!

A wise woman once told me confession is good for the soul. So today, I choose to be like Joshua. I am calling out my “this”. My greatest opposition in moving forward has been my “sight”, until today! This year, I willing choose to walk by faith and not by sight. No longer will I wait until all conditions are right, until I have it all together, or until I can see how to make it happen. The very thing that has been an opposition much of my life, I release “this” today!

What is your “this”? Call it out! I challenge you to be brave enough to destroy it. When you do, the opposition is defeated and we stand victorious! Be like Joshua because when it comes down to God or “this”, “this” must lose every time!

 

 

“A” is for Across

For those of you who started this blogging journey with me, if you remember, our journey began with the vowels. Well, as another year begins, I am compelled to go back to the beginning. Even though I still consider myself a virgin blogger (been blogging for a little less than a year), I think the vowels will be my annual blogging tradition.

So here we go!

I believe this year is the beginning of promotion, elevation, increase, and supernatural favor for those who are willing to go after it! Last year was a year of preparation for many. We chartered into territory that was new and for some, unexpected. Others went through unforeseen struggles, publicly and privately, but I believe each struggle made us stronger and wiser and was just to get us ready for what’s to come. So I began asking (as always), “What’s next God” and He took me back to my post on October 28, 2015, Ready To Get Your Feet Wet. Knowing the first blog of the year would begin with the vowel “A”, I pondered over what God was saying. I read Ready To Get Your Feet Wet again and again and I re-read every response posted on the blog, social media, even those sent via text, and finally, I heard God say…

 “A” is for ACROSS

Although a very familiar and elementary word, I went straight to dictionary.com. I understood across to signify movement from one place to another, but I was curious to see if there was something else I was missing and as always, there was more. Not only did the term mean on or to the other side of, it also yielded these meanings: (1) into a desired or successful state and (2) beyond.

To say I got excited is truly an understatement!

So I went back to the book of Joshua where the Israelites made the decision to get their feet wet and God showed me three things. There was a plan, a promise, and then promotion.

THE PLAN

Joshua 3:6 (NLT), “Lift up the Ark of the Covenant and lead the people across the river!”

The Israelite officers laid out a plan (verses 2-4). Joshua’s words, here, were in response to the plan. As I read chapter 3, I could feel their excitement. There was no hesitation. It was almost as if they knew without a doubt the victory was guaranteed.

THE PROMISE

Joshua 3: 9, 11 (NLT), “So Joshua told the Israelites, ‘Come and listen to what the Lord your God says.'” “Look, the Ark of the Covenant, who is the Lord of the whole earth, will lead you across the river.”

The plan was solidified by a promise from God himself. God spoke these words to Joshua who in turn used them to encourage the Israelites.

THE PROMOTION

Joshua 4:1 (TLB), “When all the people were safely across, the Lord said to Joshua…..”

The priest led the way carrying the Ark while the others followed. The result of their obedience was promotion. Finally, the Promised Land! They made it safely to the land flowing with milk and honey which had been promised over 40 years before.

I believe, today, God is ready to take us across. Many of us have a plan and a promise, but promotion will only come once we are willing to follow God, even if it means getting our feet wet. And there’s no need to worry. Our victory is guaranteed just like the Israelites. “How do I know,” you may ask? Just as God told me “A” is for across, He also reminded me that our victory was secured over 2000 years ago on A CROSS.

I hope you are running and shouting with me!!! I believe this year will be one of the best we have ever had! I’m ready to go across and I believe you are too! If you know someone who needs to activate their plan and stand on His promise in order to receive the promotion, please share. Let’s go across together!

OK, even though I am still running and shouting, I’m ready for the vowel “E”, but let’s have some fun. What do you think “E” will stand for? What about I, O, U, and Y? I think I know what “E” is, but I am always listening for His still, small voice.

Next week, same time, same place!