What To Do About Excellence?

March 20, 2010 — 7 Comments

Reading an older post by Donald Miller, regarding rituals he states:

Most mornings I make my bed after I get up: I do this because it gives the day a feeling of organization as I start, but it is also a ritual. I make sure there is nothing on the floor in my room, and all the clothes are folded. While it may seem silly, I’ve been able to turn this ritual into a way to honor God. Bill Hybles says that excellence honors God. Making my bed is a way for me, as an adult, to honor my Father as the keeper and provider of my home. It’s not a right or wrong thing, just a ritual that I keep. And it’s a great way to start the day.”

I love the whole concept of excellence and honoring God.  So I read this to my husband, Don, who had recently attended a city-wide pastors meeting hosting a presentation by Bill Hybles via video.  In the meeting, Don said Hybles stated that excellence honors God, however he also talked about how excellence can be a hindrance to our creativity.  I understood Hybles’ statement immediately!  I live in it all the time.

In teaching my students the writing process, I have discovered some of them shut down in the creativity department once the rules of grammar are added into the equation.  One of my friends who is a beautiful dancer, struggles with “letting go” and dancing freely in worship as opposed to feeling restricted to a beautifully choreographed dance.  I personally experience the tension between excellence and creativity when it comes to writing.  I wrestle with writing well and communicating correctly or simply writing more directly and “telling it like it is”.  My desire to do it right sometimes feels like it restricts the flow of creativity in my heart.

I agree with the concept that excellence honors God and I agree that excellence sometimes hinders our creativity.   I guess I am struggling with what to do about the tension between these two concepts.  Any suggestions?

Does anyone else struggle with this?  I would greatly appreciate any feedback you can give me!

7 responses to What To Do About Excellence?

  1. wow! thank you for writing this post! it helped me to realize that i am that student that struggles with exactly what you described- excellence versus creativity. i’m working on my senior capstone project for school, and i continually feel this angst about focusing too much on technical details and not enough on creativity…

    i don’t have much wisdom to impart, but what i’m learning is that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. for example, with the graphic design stuff i’m working on, i start out brainstorming, letting the creative juices go thru the roof, and then attack the creative plan with all the detailed, technical (boring!) stuff. with your own writing (and maybe teaching it as well-?) a similar approach might be useful- encourage students to be as creative as possible and then to view the grammatical stuff as the carrying out (or communication) of the creative idea they just came up with.

    thanks again!

  2. Thanks Kate, I appreciate your insight. I think I lose sight of the the creativity side when I’m teaching grammar — so I’m going to use your idea with my students — and with myself as well 🙂

  3. My thoughts about this tend toward- are you taking pride in YOUR excellence? Your own creativity? What YOU can do? If so, then you get whatever earthly rewards others care to give – and that’s it. I think that if your heart is in the matter, then God sees whatever you do unto Him as creatively excellent worship – and He smiles greatly. THAT – is storing up treasure in heaven.

    I like to write, too. It is a creative release that God has gifted us with. He takes pleasure in us using his gift to please and encourage others. And why muzzle the ox when working? So, yes – we are to enjoy and nourish ourselves with what we write. I often go with the flow as it comes – and then do the edit later. And sometimes I over-edit because I, too, am wanting to get it just right. Sometimes, however, in “the desire to do it right,” there’s a little too much “me” in there. Just some thoughts…

    Keep writing. I enjoy reading.


  4. Marilyn Johnson March 22, 2010 at 11:28 am

    I found this post to be thoroughly thought provoking. I struggle with the same issues when writing as I feel a need to be grammatically correct while at the same time present my thoughts and ideas in a creative way.
    I find that I personally just “throw it out there” and then go back and adjust. If I stop while the thoughts are coming and try to make sure everything is correct, the thoughts just do NOT come for me. It also depends on what I am presenting and why. Caps, exclamation points and squiggles are a frequent part as I write merely for pleasure. If I am writing for something other than pleasure, I make sure at that point to make the presentation, clear, concise and grammatically correct.
    I guess I am totally agreeing with Kate and love her ideas regarding this issue.
    I also have a thought that I would like your take on as well. Do you not feel that our creativity can be held to a standard of excellence as well and one that God takes pleasure in? I personally feel that excellence comes different ways and in different areas. I would love to know how you feel about that or if I am way off base with that thinking…(there I go with the “extras”!!!!!) 🙂

  5. I revise as I write. That means I start out just saying what I want to say. I feel free to plop it out there knowing I can pause at any moment and correct something. (I’ve changed this sentence a couple of times). I try to live in the freedom of First Draft, always aiming to keep working until I finish the project, day, or life with a clean copy of a final draft.

  6. Thanks everyone!
    Kathy: I loved the “first draft” mentality!
    Marilyn & Dave: Great stuff! I’d say the primary thought is to let the creativity flow and out of it God can be glorified as we take time to go back and shape it into something a bit more excellent.
    Marilyn: I didn’t quite understand your question. Email me on FB and let’s talk 🙂

  7. Thanks for the article, Cheri. It’s a good reminder for me not to get bogged down in wanting to present a “perfect” picture when I write. I want to do my very best, and yet at the same time, I’ve overused that crazy ‘delete’ button feeling many of my stories just weren’t good enough. I had to give myself permission to blog imperfectly or nothing would get written.

Leave a Reply

Text formatting is available via select HTML. <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>