If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” – Colin Powell
There are so many qualities that set successful people apart from everyone else but there is one quality that cannot be excluded: the quality of excellence. As I reflect on one of the most successful young men in the Old Testament – Daniel – I see him succeeding in one of the most adversarial environments and situations anyone could find himself in. I believe that one of the reasons Daniel was used so greatly by God in what would seemingly be negative and oppositional circumstances is found in this characteristic recorded in Scripture:
Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit [was] in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. – Daniel 6:3
There was something about the spirit of this young man that provoked even an ungodly and idolatrous politician to set him apart from every other one of the candidates vying and jockeying for position and prominence in the palace.
Even in the middle of adversarial circumstances and intense criticism – Daniel maintained a spirit of excellence and integrity
Daniel did not choose to go to Babylon – he was forced there by an enemy invasion. Daniel did not choose to live in an idolatrous environment – but he still knew that he had the ability to choose how he would respond in that environment.
Some of you find yourselves today living or working in an adversarial environment. You live with a spouse or child whose sole purpose in life seems to be to bring aggravation and agitation. They may take every opportunity they can to confront or criticize your faith and commitment to God. Small and seemingly insignificant issues become enormous and completely out of hand. You may possibly go to work each day facing an employer or co-worker who brings chaos into your life on a daily basis. At every turn – there is a critical or carnal word hurled at you dealing a blow to your emotions and mental well being. You may wonder to yourself what you could say or how you can respond that will bring an end to this antagonistic environment. But here is what you must remember…
You may not be able to choose your environment or the people around you – but you can always choose how you respond to your environment and the people around you. Freedom to choose is one of the greatest liberties we can ever have in life – and one that absolutely no one can take from us!
I challenge you today to examine how you have been responding to those who have been hostile toward you. It is so easy for us to respond to others in the same manner that they have treated us but Jesus said:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, Matthew 5:43-44
It was the excellent spirit of Daniel that attracted the attention of an ungodly and idolatrous king and promoted him to an incredible position of leadership impacting that whole nation. Did you ever stop to think of what God may do through you if you will only maintain that spirit of excellence and integrity in no matter what setting you find yourself? You may be the one who receives the promotion on the job. It may be the Godly response to an unsaved spouse that makes the difference in whether or not they receive Christ. The sweet spirit you maintain in the grocery line when everyone else is cutting and cursing may change the day – even the life – of the clerk handling your groceries.
The greatest manner in which to impact this world is not marching down Main Street with signs and billboards – it is through the everyday greatness of keeping an excellent spirit of character and integrity. Believe me – it speaks louder than a thousand words shouted through a bullhorn.
What has your spirit say about you today?