Hello lamewads, I’m with you
Raise your fists if this rings true
Hello lamewads, never quite our best or finest
Hello lamewads, I’m predicting a C minus now
These lyrics, which are from a song written by Reese Roper (former lead singer of Five Iron Frenzy), remind me of many people I know. Their main goal, regardless of the task at hand, is to merely get by, to meet the minimum standard, the minimum required to “pass.” They give no consideration to extra effort; they give no consideration to excellence. Or, if they do, they conclude that it’s not worth their time.
In recent years, I have observed an ever increasing disinterest in pursuing excellence. Not in wanting to be recognized for excellence, but in the actual act of pursing excellence. In my opinion, this is because pursuing excellence requires effort. It requires commitment. It inevitably requires sacrifice – that the pursuer “pays their dues.” Unfortunately, the culture of instant gratification, instant reward, and instant recognition in which we live provides little incentive to pursue excellence.
So what is excellence? The Random House Dictionary defines it as: “the state, quality, or condition of exceling; superiority; eminence.” Wow! That is indeed a lofty goal. But I, as a Christian, believe humanity (whether Christian or non-Christian) is encouraged (if not commanded) to strive for this goal.
The writer of Ecclesiastes penned these words: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom” (Eccl. 9:10, NIV). The Apostle Paul advised the same in his first letter to the Corinthian church: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31, NIV).
EXCELLENCE IN WHAT MATTERS
Notice, these passages do not instruct us to pursue excellence in only certain areas of life. No, we are instructed to pursue excellence in every area – whatever it is we find ourselves doing.
Now, some may say that pursuing excellence in every area of life is non-realistic; at best, we should concentrate our pursuit in one area. I disagree. It is certainly unrealistic to believe that we will be (or are) excellent in every area. I nonetheless posit that excellence is always the goal toward which we should strive, at least in what I consider the four most important areas of our lives – spiritual, familial, relational, and professional.
Interestingly enough, a study conducted a few years ago by Dr. Richard H. Bube, a professor at Stanford University, concluded that pursuing excellence in only one area can actually result in “negative excellence” in other areas. Dr. Bube defined “negative excellence” as a major failure that resulted in damage both to the person and to others dependent upon the person.
For example, when a person pursues professional excellence without also pursuing spiritual, familial, and relational excellence, that person will likely experience damage in one or more of these latter areas. Concomitantly, others, namely those dependent upon the person, will likely suffer, too. While, in this example, the person’s level of professional excellence may surpass that of professional peers, this will likely come at significant cost in these other, more important areas of their life.
EXCELLENCE IS DIFFICULT
Pursuing excellence in each of these important areas of life is something that is easier said than done. Let’s be honest, we humans aren’t naturally excellent at anything, let alone things that matter. Thus, we have to continually work our way toward excellence. Pursuing excellence is a persistent, life-long, and sometimes lonely task that requires effort, commitment, and sacrifice.
Pursuing excellence can sometimes grow wearisome. We can sometimes get discouraged and begin wondering if our effort, commitment, and sacrifice have actually worked against us. It is in those times that we have to push such doubts out of our minds, and hold on to the words of the Apostle Paul: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9, NIV).
MEDIOCRITY IS EASY
The antithesis of excellence, mediocrity, is always easier to pursue. Doing just enough to get by, and nothing more, requires little, if any, effort. It certainly does not require commitment or sacrifice. Yes, there may be times when a person may actually reap some benefit from their mediocrity, but I believe any such benefit will be short lived, non-fulfilling, or both.
In the long run, the persistently mediocre will reap what they’ve sown – spiritual mediocrity, familial mediocrity, relational mediocrity, and professional mediocrity. Emptiness epitomized.
DON’T BE A LAMEWAD
I don’t want to be a man who spends his life pursuing mediocrity. Nor do I want to be a man that pursues excellence in one area of my life only to suffer in other areas. I want to pursue excellence in at least the most important areas of my life. Yes, this may come with a cost – I may not achieve the same level of excellence in one area as my peers who are solely concentrating on this same area. But, it will also come with a benefit – I will achieve higher levels of excellence in all of the other areas of my life that these same peers will not, while simultaneously avoiding the impact of “negative excellence.”
Any lamewad can pursue mediocrity. Any lamewad can give less than their best, less than their finest. Any lamewad can settle for a C minus. That’s easy.
I don’t want to be a lamewad. I hope and pray that you don’t, either.
 I will expound on what I mean by excellence in each of these areas in later posts.