Toward Excellence

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. (2 Peter 1:3, ESV)

I am nearing the end of a two-week travel schedule that has included two charity pro-am events, two Symetra Tour visits, two days with my family, and a long weekend in Florida. Though I have enjoyed it all, being a guest speaker at my niece’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes high school huddle meeting has been the highlight.

I had 15 minutes to share with a room full of unpredictable young athletes. I felt led to share about the difference between striving for excellence versus performing for acceptance. The image came while on my morning run. It is a message I am intimately familiar with as I have struggled with using my performance to feel loved and accepted throughout my life, even as a follower of Jesus and a professional golfer.

Our identity in Christ is an easy concept to speak of and hard to understand. The longing to be loved resides deep in our hearts, making it a desire we desperately want fulfilled. As I thought about the difference between striving for excellence versus performing for acceptance, I knew that I needed to hear this message as much as the students I was on my way to meet.

Imagine you are looking at a whiteboard with the words excellence and acceptance written side-by-side. Two lists begin to form. Under excellence:“unconditional love,” “worthy,” “peace,” “gratitude,” “joy,” “playful,” and “enough” fill the column. As your eyes drift right, “conditional love,” “unworthy,” “emotional chaos,” “complaining,” “fear,” “anxiety,” and “not enough” darken the white space underneath acceptance. Two completely different lists; two underlying motivations in our search for love.

In today’s passage, excellence is translated from the Greek word arete. Aretedenotes in a moral sense what gives man his worth, his efficiency, virtue. If our identity is truly in Jesus, then we have been given all we need that pertains to life and godliness. This means we don’t have to perform for the acceptance that we crave. We have freedom to strive for excellence to be the best version of ourselves and to make a difference in our world simply because we are loved by Jesus.

We all struggle with the futile pattern of performing for acceptance—regardless of age and profession. You have nothing to prove or earn today. Go and strive for excellence.

Tracy Hanson
May 10, 2018
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