The ABC’s of Wisdom: Building Character with Solomon - Excellence
Doing Your Best All the Time
Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.
Children and young adults need to memorize this verse because we are told over and over that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. There is some truth to that. But a more fundamental truth is this: The key to success in life is finding out what it is that you like to do-your passion in life-and then becoming very good at it. Be skilled in what excites you, for once you have determined what God has gifted you to do, if you will do it well, you will not serve before obscure men. You will rise until you serve before kings.
Talent matters, and so does giftedness, and it certainly helps if you have friends who can open doors of opportunity for you. But woe to the man who thinks that is all he needs to get ahead in life. The people who rise to the top and stay there are those who pay the price in long hours of study, preparation, and practice. This principle is true in every occupation. The best doctors, the finest lawyers, the most respected business leaders, the skaters who win the gold medals, the managers who consistently push their departments to meet their quotas, the teachers whose classes are filled every semester-these all share a commitment to excellence that begins with hard work and dedication.
Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. I find it encouraging that excellence doesn’t depend on anyone else but me. Every day when I get up I have a new opportunity to perform with excellence. If I don’t, I can’t blame anyone else.
In this verse God promises us that skillful work will not go unrewarded. First Samuel 16:14-23 records the story of David playing the harp to soothe Saul’s tormented soul. David was chosen because one of Saul’s servants “happened” to know that he knew how to play the harp beautifully. Although he was probably only a teenager, and although he was the youngest son, and although he was “just” a shepherd, evidently he hadn’t been wasting those long hours on the rocky fields around Bethlehem. He had gained a reputation as a gifted musician and a brave warrior-two qualities much admired in ancient Israel. Therefore, his father sent him to serve Saul, who liked him immediately. The rest is history. His music gave him an introduction to the leaders of Israel. Not long after that, he defeated Goliath, which meant he would never again be a lowly shepherd.
He was ready when his opportunity came, and he made the most of it. None of us orchestrate how or when our opportunity will come. But we can do something about being ready.
Find your passion. Sharpen your skills. Pay the price to be the best you can be. Take care of your part and God will take care of what happens next.
Spirit of God, help me to do my job well today so that I will be ready when my ship comes in. Amen.
What are the passions of your life? What are you doing to increase your skill level in each area?
Are you willing to wait for God to promote you to the next level?
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