Excellence is a Heart Issue

Jared Massey —  January 27, 2012

…not a talent issue.

Last night on the Kidmin1124 radio show on CMConnect, I once again got into some passionate prose, but failed to remember that some listeners may not know me in the capacity that the panelists know me.  I felt the need to clarify what I mean when I say we should do all things with excellence.

As we discussed large group teaching, we were in a conversation about various methods.  I implored those serving in children’s ministry that whatever method they chose to incorporate into their large group teaching, do it with excellence or don’t do it all.  Wayne brought some nice balance to that conversation, but I still felt that some loose ends were left.  (I’ve embedded the audio from the show tonight below.)

Serving with excellence is not to be equated with serving with talent.  There are many very talented people who do what seems to be a great job, but fail to serve with excellence.  I know, because I’ve been that person more times than I care to admit.  Because of a charming stage presence and some natural communication giftings, I have been known to appear to do well even with little preparation.  That will never be considered serving with excellence.

On the very opposite side, I have known and witnessed many who serve with fewer of the natural giftings in stage presentation, but serve with greater excellence than myself.  It’s because they have committed to give God their very best.  They operate not in natural giftings, but through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

I’m reminded of the story of David being chosen as the next king of Israel.  Though all of his brothers seemed to have the better ability to serve as king, God chose the one whose heart was right.  As I taught this story at our last family experience, I said it this way.  God didn’t need a king who was good in battle, who was strong or even talented, He could do all those things on His own.  He needed a king who heart was set on worship.

I’m also reminded of the woman who gave just two minas when the Pharisees gave so much.  But they gave out of their abundance.  She gave out of her sacrifice.  Jesus brought honor to the woman and shame to the Pharisees.  I believe he is teaching me this lesson still.  When I serve out of my ability, I serve out of abundance.  When I give Him more than I have to give, when I offer my best and then some, when I have nothing left to give, that’s when I’ve truly served with excellence.

Another thing that was recently dropped into my heart, one that I was intending to write a blog post on soon, is also about David.  It’s when he purchases the threshing floor even though it is offered to him for free.  He says something so profound.  He says, “I won’t sacrifice to God if it doesn’t cost me something.”  What if we applied that same line of thinking to our lesson preparation.  I won’t teach this to kids unless it costs me my time and energy.  Not the extra time and energy I have, but out of my sacrifice.

Now, I will not pretend to be perfect in this area.  I often rely on my own God-given talents instead of my God-given assistant, the Holy Spirit.  I challenge others to serve with excellence, to give their all to kidmin, while secretly I sometimes struggle to prepare before Saturday night or even Sunday morning.  I can honestly say that God is working on me in this area and with each passing week I get better.

Have you ever struggled in this area?  How have you overcome serving out of ability (abundance) instead of out of the heart (sacrifice)?

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Jared Massey

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Jared is the associate pastor at Warsaw Assembly of God in Warsaw, IL where his primary responsibilities include children's and youth ministries. He also works full time during the week at local bank. He is married to his high school sweetheart and they have one son.

5 responses to Excellence is a Heart Issue

  1. Jared,
    I’m always impressed with your wisdom beyond your years. I have been in ministry fro 25 years and I can tell you your spot on. I have been doing ministry to kids since I was just a kid and I have come to realize that my “ability” is from God and yet at times I have chosen to do things in my own ability. Call it becoming too comfortable in those abilities, laziness or whatever, your right it should not be done. We must give our best to God and to the children/families they serve. He gave his best, withholding nothing so we should never hold back, regardless of whether or not anyone acknowledges our abilities or talents. I agree with you that as teachers of children we should never lean on our own understandings, talents or abilities. We should plan, prepare and give our best so that the Word is the centerpiece. I often say I too love doing illusions, but I never want the illusion to outshine the message.
    My young brother, don’t lose that passion and keep speaking! Us “old dogs” need some pushing every now an then.

    • Thanks Tom! Since I knew you had listened to the show last night, I really wanted to hear your opinion to not only how I presented myself but also this followup. Thanks for sharing.

  2. You have a very important point. I know myself, in my humanity, to be prone to pride and self-sufficiency. Every time I sense the Lord calling me to work for Him, I pray “Lord, keep me humble”.

    Many times something that generally comes easy for me just does not seem to be working out, and it drives me and my team to prayer. I believe that this is an answer to prayer in itself!

    In the end, we know it will work out. God always empowers us to do what He calls us to do. Our utmost prayer is that hearts will be blessed through our service to God. We are only giving Him of His own, but the process is exciting and faith-building!

    Definitely, excellence and perfection are states of the heart–not of the ability!

  3. I would not say that I’ve overcome that pride issue at all. I still struggle with trusting in my own skills, instead of trusting in Christ.

    I’m a work in progress, for sure. So glad I follow a gracious and patient God!

  4. I enjoyed listening to the conversation. By the end, there was a very good balance. I agree with what you are saying by doing with excellence. And I agree with your distinction between excellence and talent. I love using puppets, but by no means am I a super talented puppeteer. I myself generally use a single reoccuring puppet. I have videotaped him in his own web blog. I do my very best when I use him. Yes, there are many people who could operate a puppet better than I can. I have taken several ‘puppeteering’ classes, so I am not the floppy headed stare at the ceiling puppet guy. Similar to your juggling illustration. You may not be the best juggler, but it is something that you can use at times to use in your service.

    I have always thought that if you dont do your best, then there is no reason to do it at all. That doesnt mean I am the best at what I do, it just means that I give all that I am to what I do. And you cant be afraid to let your lack of talent stop you from doing something either. If I only did things that take skills I have mastered, I wouldn’t do much, and my service time would be pretty dull.

    I greatly enjoyed listening to your discussion, and reading your posts. Keep up the good work Jared!