01 Aug Advancing Through Life with the Spirit of Excellence
Daniel was described as a man with the spirit of excellence – ‘an excellent spirit was found in him.’ (Daniel 6:3-5). He was described as faithful, without error or fault, and the secret was found in his connection with his God. With that kind of spirit they could not stop him from succeeding or rising to the fullness of his potential unless they cut him off from his God-connection. In Acts 24:13-21, from the Amplified translation, we read how Paul, in his own defence, talks about his relationship with God: ’and therefore I always exercise and discipline myself (mortifying my body, deadening my carnal affections, bodily appetites, and worldly desires, endeavouring in all respects) to have a clear conscience, void of offence toward God and men’ (verse 16).
To have an excellent spirit demands that we walk in wisdom, knowing how to deal rightly with people, and maintain a relationship with God while still producing undeniable, and outstanding results in this life, giving God all the glory. If the present day believers would admit it to themselves, we will agree that combining the God-factor with the man-factor in the issues of success have not been quite so easy or straight forward. One believer, whose integrity I can vouch for, once said ’I have many ideas and potentials that I am not stepping up to maximise and my major issue is I have not heard from God.’
This matter does not have easy answers.
Having an excellent spirit seems to carry some answers for this quest….
DEVELOPING AN EXCELLENT SPIRIT
To have an excellent spirit demands the cultivation of both spiritual and natural disciplines. Many have written and expounded on the spiritual disciplines of prayer, meditation in the Word of God, worship and fellowship with the Holy Spirit. These all have great contributions to make into our spiritual account as we engage in them. Many people never get connected with the vast resources made available to mankind through the sacrifice of Jesus in His life, death, burial and resurrection. These disciplines are great avenues through which these resources can be tapped into for God’s purposes and for our benefit. The natural disciplines should flow out of these spiritual ones.
The success-psychology books teach us a lot about the natural side of things. The many how-to books are readily available in any bookshop on these matters. I am referring to subjects like ‘goal setting’, ‘time management’, ‘planning’, ‘understanding roles and relationships’ and many along these lines. These all start with you identifying your purpose in life or in an organisation. When purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable. When these tools are rightly engaged, the person is on their way to success. Success we have learned is not a destination but a journey. It is defined as the gradual realisation of a set destination or goal. There are many things to overcome when we really get a hold of these tools. We will make right decisions with the use of our time, have visions that give us a picture of the future and begin to engage our minds, words and actions in our overall drive for things to happen in our lives. I recommend that everyone should endeavour to have a grasp of what these tools are and can do in your life. If you do not have a purpose or vision, there will be nothing to regulate your actions.
Without any regulation, your life is going nowhere fast. With vision come short and long term goals. These goals should be ‘smart’ ones. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Tangible. When goals are set then you have tasks that will lead to their accomplishments within a given time. The value system that generated the purpose or vision will now help you determine the importance of each task. According to their importance the tasks are now prioritised.
The TIME-MANGEMENT matrix now can come in to help as you classify what activity is urgent and what is not urgent; what is important and what is not. You make sure you invest time in what is important and not necessarily urgent. These are done according to the values and relevance of such tasks to your set objectives. The benefit of these exercises is that your life actually begins to gather some movement in certain directions and you feel you are making progress. These exercises can be applied for spiritual disciplines as well. A person with an excellent spirit combines both so well that their lives run effectively through everything they have to do.
Having a spirit of excellence demands effective SELF-MANAGEMENT. Self-management means you take proper steps to create order out of what happens and when it happens in your life. Your self-worth and accomplishments in life will be greatly influenced by the thought patterns you allow and how you manage yourself. There must be some control over the sequence of events in your life. Life management skills involve effective time management. Time is a non-renewable resource. We all get an equal amount deposited into our accounts daily. What we do with this resource determines the quality of our contribution in life. If we do not invest time we waste it. It cannot be stored for use another day. Knowing what we want to accomplish and investing the time it takes to prepare and produce the results will be a function of our time management skills.
Salaries are a result of the time we invest at work. We must determine what is most important to focus our energies on and use time to accomplish the really valuable things in our lives. Great achievers are not known to be the most talented; they are simply masters of their use of time. Self-mastery calls for discipline.
THE POWER OF DISCIPLINE
Discipline is your willingness to do the things you know you should do when you ought to do them whether you like it or not. Successful people have the habit of doing things failures do not like to do. They do not necessarily like doing them either. Their disliking is subordinated to their strength of purpose. You need to discipline yourself and understand that there is no point in doing well that which you should not be doing at all. Concentrate on doing the right things not just doing things right. You should always ask the question: ’Is this what I should be doing to achieve my goals?’
Discipline requires a clear sense of direction and value with a burning ‘yes’ inside that makes you say ‘no’ to other things. It also requires the ability to act based on values and worthy things; not on supposedly interesting or urgent things. People who are disciplined grow continuously, they steadily work towards improvement and they optimise their investment of time. It is said that there are two pains in life: the pain of discipline which comes from what you give up to go up and the pain of regret which comes from the easy road and missed opportunities.
Your values are those things that matter to you that you are not willing to compromise for anything. Your life’s purpose is your destination in life and your priority is a list of what you want in order of importance. Daniel, as an example of a man with an excellent spirit, had values that were consistent with godliness. He purposed in his heart not to defile himself and deepened his consecration to God. His purpose was to glorify God by doing whatever pleased God at all costs. God was the top priority in Daniel’s life. This is the secret of the excellent spirit that Daniel had. His natural disciplines were not lagging behind his spiritual ones either. They could not find fault with him in any area of his life. They knew the secret of his success was found in his relationship with his God.
Success from an eternal perspective is when having said all, the purposes of God are fulfilled, the potential that God gave is maximised and His name is glorified. Real fulfilment is found in fulfilling God’s plans and purposes for our lives. God’s purposes include the revelation of the nature of Jesus Christ in our human lives. Utilising God’s Word to see His will done on earth is included in His plans. Participating with God by acting in faith and obedience and a dedicated life are all part of succeeding in God. No one else should take the credit or glory for the good things that happen in our lives other than God Almighty.
Today’s success literature, when taken to extreme, can convey the fact that we are ultimately the architect of our destinies. I have my reservations here. We need to apply principles as stated here but draw the line and let God be our God and not ‘self’ be our god. We were made for His glory and pleasure. In life or death let His glory be our priority. May you cultivate an excellent spirit in your life and if you already have it, may you influence many more to do so in their lives. It’s time to arise and shine for our light is come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon us.