As a kid growing up in Mississippi, I have many memories of my parents giving me a hug on the way out the door for school. On test days I would always hear the words, “Do your best” as I scurried off.
In that context, “Do your best” had certain connotations. And those words really covered more than just test days. “Do your best” meant:
- Pay attention in class
- Do your homework thoroughly
- Take your time and don’t make careless mistakes
- Ask questions for clarification
I guess that in spite of short-comings that all parents have, mine did a pretty good job of instilling that principle. While I deeply appreciate that fact, it sure makes it difficult to be tolerant of those who don’t do their best work.
Take customer service, for example. When I worked in retail sales, the reigning mentality was “the customer is always right.” I would submit to you there are very few businesses who operate by that principle today. Now, granted, we know that the customer is not always right. But I think the main point of that mantra is that as a business person, it is important to always treat even the most difficult customer with a measure of dignity and respect. Through the years I’ve come to think of it differently — more along the lines of “I’d rather be paid than be right.”
It pains me to see that today’s fast-paced productivity-minded culture encourages quantity over quality. So many people simply do not seem to care to do their best.
In ministry, doing our best means many things. It means taking the time to listen; following through on what you say you’ll do; being intentional about changes and transitions; hurting with people in need; being diligent in preparation, no matter how large or small the crowd may be. The church is a place where good principles of ‘customer service’ can be readily applied. I still think of myself as a salesman of sorts. Of course, the main difference is that I have the most important thing to offer — and I’m giving it away!
Because I represent Jesus Christ, it is essential that I do my best. That means lots of attention to not just the big picture but also to the details — those little things that are extremely time-consuming but that make all the difference in the world.
Colossians 3:23 says this:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
As you go through your routine today, I hope you will give life your best — every aspect of it. Give your family your best. Give your employer your best. Give your friends your best.
I’m frequently reminded that God gave His best for us; we owe Him nothing less.