Sunday, July 6, 2008

Serve with Excellence

I recently returned to the United States in order to raise support for KEZA . My first stop was in Amish country up in Ohio. I was there for my cousin Rhoda’s wedding and it was a spectacular event; so genuine and meaningful. I’m so grateful that I was able to attend. While I was there I stayed with my parents at a local hotel called the Carlisle Inn. The craftsmanship in the hotel was magnificent. There was lots of solid oak and a tremendous attention to detail. Nothing was done solely from a utilitarian standpoint; everything had such meaning and purpose. There were hundreds of rooms, each marked with a solid oak name plate with names like “Evening Mist”, “God’s Grace”, ‘Tranquility”, and “Day of Peace”. Everywhere I looked, I saw complete perfection and purpose.

I was in awe of the attention to detail, especially after having just stepped off the plane from Africa, where virtually everything is purely utilitarian (for good reasons). It is just an entirely different world, and one that I respect. I had been wondering to myself what it must have been like to create such a magnificent structure, with such meaning intertwined through it all. As I thought about this, I remembered the times when I saw Amish barn raisings as a child. The community and interdependence was something that really stuck with me. Witnessing this attention to detail and community dependence throughout my life has certainly made a tremendous impact on the way I live. I notice everything around me, and I am so grateful for it all. I certainly hear “he’s a perfectionist” or “he’s a bit Obsessive Compulsive”, often, but I’ve heard worse things said about me. Those I sort of appreciate.

When I was walking in the entrance to the hotel, I noticed a small plaque on the wall. Upon it was the great Harry S. Truman quote, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit”. I’ve heard this time and time again, but this time it really hit me. It’s powerful. I was standing there in awe of how these regular small town people had created this amazing hotel with such intricate and breathtaking craftsmanship, wondering how they did it. And there was my answer. They did it together. And they did it with great care. They were not just trying to do the minimal amount of work in order to get a paycheck. The money was secondary. Doing their work with excellence was the top priority. They built that place as if God himself were going to be staying there for a night.

Imagine what this world would be like if everyone operated this way; if everyone cared so much about every detail, no matter who got the credit for it. Imagine the satisfaction of those that are creating, and that of the ones receiving the creation. Everyone wins. Everyone is happy and has a sense of fulfillment. I believe a person’s work is a reflection of who they are. How is your work representing who you are? Furthermore, for those of us that call ourselves Christians, we are called to an even higher level of responsibility to work with excellence. God calls us all to greatness. And if we have a “Christian business”, (advertised that way or not), we are representing the Kingdom of God. How is your quality of work representing the Kingdom? Think about it. That question is being asked of all of us, by everyone that experiences our “work”.

God calls us all to excellence, in all that we do. And we are all called to serve, just as Jesus did. So one would deduce that we are to serve with excellence, always. I dream of a world where everyone selflessly serves each other to the best of their abilities, never caring who gets the credit. Serving in community, relying on each other and God; united. Think of how pure and perfect that would be; such a beautiful exchange. This is ubuntu. It’s a choice we all make every day. Your choice, today.


Ashley Rose said...

Wow--incredible words, Jared, as usual. I love that quote--we so often get wrapped up in the glam-everyone wants credit for what they've done. But what a true lesson in humility and passion to truly work your hardest just because you desire so much to do what you see as worthwhile. That is beautiful. I'm reading a book called "Amish Grace" right now--if anyone is interested in the lives of the Amish, this book is incredible and details the Nickel Mines school shootings and forgiveness-both in the Amish community and how it applies to the larger world. You'd love it, Jared.

Amber Beckham said...

Jared - thank you for writing such amazing words! You are an example to me. I feel honored to know you...