The cure for selfish ambition and restless devotion to The Next Big Thing is contentment. But like happiness, excellence and drive, contentment is not something you can just generate from within. It has to have an object. There must be someone or something that is so satisfying that we can sing “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also.”
– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 123
Being “ordinary” means that we reject the idolatry of pursuing excellence for selfish reasons. We aren’t digging wells in Africa to prove our worth or value. We aren’t serving in the soup kitchen or engaging in Spiritual Disciplines because we long to be unique, radical, and different. When we do these things for selfish reasons, God becomes a tool for winning our lifetime achievement award. Our neighbors become instruments in the crafting of our sense of meaning, impact and identity. What we do for God is really for ourselves.
– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 38
What Jesus is saying is that every excuse for refusing the master’s invitation (Luke 14:15-24) – even the pursuit of religious “excellence” – will make you an outsider to his kingdom. Your religious excellence will not earn you a place at God’s table. Your own efforts will never merit you a seat of honor. The invitation is not Christ plus anything, but Christ alone. Material, moral, or spiritual self-sufficiency is deadly, and it has everlasting consequences.
– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 37
Excellence requires caring about someone or something enough to invest time, effort and skill into it, with God’s glory and our neighbor’s good as the goal. Biblically defined, true excellence has others in mind – first God and then our neighbor (I Corinthians 10:31).
– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 28-29
But God is a being infinitely lovely, because he hath infinite excellency and beauty. To have infinite excellence and beauty, is the same thing as to have infinite loveliness. He is a being of infinite greatness, majesty, and glory; and therefore he is infinitely honorable. He is infinitely exalted above the greatest potentates of the earth and highest angels in heaven; and therefore he is infinitely more honorable than they. His authority over us is infinite; and the ground of his right to our obedience is infinitely strong; for he is infinitely worthy to be obeyed himself, and we have an absolute, universal and infinite dependence on him.
– Jonathan Edwards, On Knowing Christ, The Banner of Truth Trust, copyright 1990, page 118
In everything, do the best you can. Excellence brings its own satisfaction and doing your best will reinforce your authority in the eyes of your followers.
– Haggai, Dr. John E, The Influential Leader: 12 Steps to Igniting Visionary Decision Making, copyright 2009, Harvest House Publishers: Eugene, Oregon, page 223