For my first five years working in creative ministry, I was obsessed with the idea and the destination of “excellence.” I always felt excellence was a value often forgotten or overlooked in the church world, and I tried to make it my mantra as a young creative to fix everything and bring it up to a level of excellence I could be proud of.

I still love and value excellence. I think it’s critical to effectively communicating the story of what God is doing in and through our churches.

However, as I look back at that first season of ministry, there was something missing. Now I realize that drive for excellence created a steady rhythm of being overwhelmed, frustrated and feeling like I never arrived anywhere.

Everywhere I would look, I would find things that need fixing, frustrated by things that I couldn’t control or speak into, and facing challenges with limited resources and staff. I was wasting sideways energy on so much that I couldn’t control, feeling like excellence was the destination that I’d never actually get to arrive at.

If I was going to survive and be effective in the call God placed on my life, a couple things needed to change.

Redefine Excellence

It’s time to redefine excellence. Excellence isn’t a destination. Excellence is less about perfection, and more about doing the very best with what you have. You can’t measure it by what the church down the road does with a budget 10x as big as yours. Excellence is about the expectation of you and your team that you’re going to maximize all that you have.

Embrace Stewardship

As church communicators, we constantly encounter things that aren’t as good as we think they should be and need fixing. Some of these things are within our realm of control to fix. Others, simply, are not.

God has not called us to fix everything we see. Instead, God has called us to be good stewards of the time, talent, resources and responsibilities that he’s placed in our hands. Your role is not just a job. It’s a stewardship.

If God hasn’t placed a role/decision/project in your hands, that’s OK! Dive into the things that are your responsibility, and be a good steward of them. Let go of the things you can’t control. Stop worrying about them. What I’ve learned from this concept (and Matthew 25:14-30), is that if you can be a good steward of what God gives you, he promises to give you more.

Working in the church, especially in church communications, is a grind. It’s a challenge that few understand, and can be overwhelming. Don’t give up. Take it a day at a time, and be a good steward of each moment that God gives you.

At the end of the day, I think that’s what excellence truly is.

Originally posted on Church Marketing Sucks

  • @justineklund

    Great post, Phil. I like how you added people into your stewardship discussion. Early on I found myself putting projects and excellence above people. I often found myself more interested in quality than relationships. Thanks to some key friends and leaders I began to realize that people are much more important to God than perfection. It’s been a tremendous blessing to grow with people and serve together – even if their level of excellence wasn’t always where I thought it needed to be. In God’s economy it’s truly more about the people than the project. It’s messy but it’s worth it.

    • Thanks Justin! I feel like this is a lesson we need to keep reminding ourselves of. Thanks for sharing!

  • Nice perspective on this. When I was on church staff, we used the term “excellence” in meetings and communications, but, to be honest…many of us just took it to mean doing our job well. I think your statement, “God has called us to be good stewards of the time, talent, resources and responsibilities that he’s placed in our hands. Your role is not just a job. It’s a stewardship.”, is a wonderful clarification for what “excellence” is. Being a steward is an ongoing process, without a defined end. I like that 🙂

  • btmcallen

    You have no idea how much I needed to hear this Phil. This is so great! I am guilty of being frustrated in the fight for excellence that at times feels so unattainable in certain areas this speaks so much clarity into that for me. I think we tend to define excellence in our own way that it becomes this huge monstrosity of unrealistic expectations. Thank you for sharing this! -Denise

    • Thanks for sharing, Denise! You’re not alone!

  • This is perfectly timed — thank you!

  • Felicia Weese

    Beautiful. Thank you ^_^