The sixth need facing Christian schools today is the need to pursue biblical excellence. Some may be thinking that this really isn’t a need because everyone claims that they are doing exactly this. However, too many Christian schools are pursuing excellence that is not truly biblical. If you go on any school’s website or look at their printed material, you will more than likely find some claim to excellence. One of the most common phrases I hear and see goes something like this – Academic Excellence in a Christian Environment!
It is important that Christians strive to be excellent in all we do. Yet, very few Christians understand what excellence is from a biblical position. I think you will agree with me that there must be some set of standards to follow if one is going to pursue excellence. This makes the pursuit of excellence very difficult in our society. We live in a culture that has denied the existence of any absolute values or standards. This has led to excellence being totally relative and, therefore, illusive to achieve. In fact, it is impossible to pursue something that you cannot define and you cannot define excellence without accepting some absolute standard.
The problem with the pursuit of excellence in Christian schools (and churches or homes) is that we have tried to define excellence from a horizontal perspective. Excellence is determined by comparing ourselves to and competing with others. We can then claim excellence because we are “better” than the other person or institution. This can easily lead to arrogance and pride.
Christian schools must define and pursue excellence from a biblical perspective. This starts with a vertical look rather than a horizontal one. When we do this, we will quickly realize that God is the only absolute standard for excellence. It is His holiness that must be defining point of all excellence in our lives and our institutions.
It is true that everything God does is excellent but biblical excellence is not determined by what God does but by who God is. It is because God is who He is that causes Him to do the things He does. This must be our guide as we pursue true excellence in our lives and our schools. We must strive to do everything with excellence because we first strive to be excellent in our character.
Biblical excellence main focus is on character. Then one’s character colors all of one’s performance. Gary Inrig defines excellence this way.
Biblical excellence is conformity to God’s purpose for the individual believer, in character and in conduct.
Please note the order of his words. Inrig defines excellence in line with how the Bible always compares character and conduct. Being always precedes doing (Psalm 78:72; Sermon on the Mount). It is critical that Christian educators pursue biblical excellence. This means we must evaluate how we are promoting excellence on our websites and in our promotional materials. Are we primarily focusing our attention on how we are “performing” or on Christlikeness? This is the key to being successful in fulfilling God’s plan for educating future generations.
I posted a series of blogs that tried to address the issue of excellence from a biblical perspective in greater detail back in February of this year. I strongly encourage you to read each of the 6 posts I made back then so you have a better grasp on true excellence. You can begin with the post, Excellence: A Misunderstood Word and then proceed to the posts that follow this one. We must pursue true excellence in all we are and all we do.
I pray that God will lead you to pursue biblical excellence in your own life and in your home, church and school. This will bring glory to God and draw others to Him.