Is Lack of Excellence Excusable In Christian Business?

Have you ever dealt with an organization that clearly performed at a low quality level? If you are like me, it is really frustrating. What is worse is when they profess to be a Christian organization, using their “cause” as an excuse for less than excellent work. Why is it that Christians so often think they should be given a pass when it comes to excellence?


Jim Reese – CEO, Atlanta Mission

This is the fourth post in a series of five that describes the advice my brother and I received from business and ministry leader, Jim Reese. Mr. Reese seen incredible success in the business world over a stellar career with executive positions in companies such as Randstad N.A., Frito-Lay, and HoneyBaked Ham, but he has also significantly impacted people for eternity through his work with Atlanta Mission. He has taken his exceptional business skills and is applying them in Christian ministry.

Below, is the fourth of five main points I gained from our conversation. This advice is directed at anyone trying to buck the norms of this world and integrate their faith into their work. If you are trying to run your business from an eternal perspective, then you need to heed this advice.

[box][typography font=”Cardo” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Recommendation #4:[/typography]

    [typography font=”Cardo” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]Excellence is not optional.[/typography]


Emphasis on Excellence

If there was one of the five main points Mr. Reese made with extra emphasis, it was this one. We spent at least twice the time on excellence as we did on the other topics.

Obviously excellence is an extremely wide topic. For the purpose of this post, here is our definition of excellence.

Excellent organizations achieve and sustain superior levels of performance that meet or exceed the expectations of all their stakeholders.

Lower Expectations?

So many Christian ministries and organizations today think they get a free pass in regards to excellence because they are doing God’s work. They think people will (or at least should) accept less than excellence when they know the cause is right. While it is truly sad, many people have come to expect this from Christian organizations.

Folks, this is simply ridiculous thinking! If anything, work done for God should be held to a higher standard, not a lower one. If we are following Scripture and working as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23-24), then we should act like it! We are serving the King of the Universe! He would not accept less than excellence from Cain (Genesis 4:3-7) or from the Israelites (Malachi 1:6-13), why should He accept it from us?

Excellence Is Central

This attitude of excellence should be central to everything we do. It should drive every aspect of our lives and our businesses. There should be nothing in our lives that we accept as less than excellent.

This is not to say that we can achieve perfection, but we should always maintain a culture of improvement. This culture will cause us to always be working on any weaknesses so that they do not remain that way.

Right To Influence

If we are to be Greatest Commandments and Great Commission companies, then we must earn the right to influence others. We earn this right by doing business with excellence. Anything less will risk pushing people away from the Gospel.

Do you consider your company as one of excellence?

Do you recognize the importance of excellence?

What do you need to change right now?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • In the daily trenches surrounded by co-workers who supposedly have the same company objectives, we can be challenged by the differences we each hold in our personal goals, attitudes and motives at work.  For the faithful Christian, Ephesians 5:15-18, 6:5-9 are equally powerful to what Mr. Reese presented. As a Christian with our attitude as working for Christ it can be a challenge to stay committed to “doing right” when others are looking for short-cuts to be rewarded and recognized. And I agree that nothing can exasperate a believer more than when someone professing to be a Christian tries to use their claim to justify their actions which clearly are not in “doing right”.

    Question: Should Christian workers strive for success and the recognition and rewards at all costs? Or, seek to honor Christ in their diligence to “doing right,” trusting the outcome of their efforts will be justly rewarded and recognized, even if they do not get all the recognition and rewards that are offered to entice them to be viewed as successful? I know this is almost a conundrum for Christian business leaders. 

    • Coach, I think you bring up two great points.

      First, it is certainly discouraging to work hard at your faith in whatever the endeavor while watching other professing Christians take short-cuts and compromises. My advice there is to take two approaches. One, work to build relationships with them to the point where you have earned the right (with them) to help hold them accountable. Without a relationship, you will just come across as holier-than-thou and judgmental. Two, at the same time, continue to run your race, throwing off anything that distracts you from it. Work hard and trust God will bless your efforts accordingly.
      The second great point regarding reward and recognition boils down to which scoreboard you are watching. The world’s scoreboard is the one that ranks financial and material success. It does not consider the heart. God’s scoreboard is the opposite. God is watching our intentions, our heart. If we are working in everything as unto Him, pursuing excellence, then He will reward us accordingly. This may or may not be reflected in financial or material gain.

      Our end goal is to seek His kingdom first and trust His Word. I believe this translates to doing our absolute best in our jobs, giving all of our effort to the job while we are there. The difference is that our motivation, our reason for doing it, is to point people to Him. The “success” we seek is to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

  • What a great topic. I think so often we confuse what true excellence is. We look at being excellent as being nice people and praying a lot, and allow that to excuse sub-par work. But instead, we should strive to be both – to let our Christianity be seen through our excellence and not as opposed to it.

  • When I become overwhelmed, I start to rush through things and compromise excellence. The more organized I stay and the more aware of my ultimate goal (doing God’s will) I am, the better able I am to maintain excellence in all that I do. Also, staying well rested and keeping healthy is an important aspect of being able to always live with excellence.

    • Kari, you are dead on! The faster we try to rush through life, without taking the time to eat right and stay rested and fit, the harder it is to produce excellent work.

      Thanks for those points!

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  • Pursuit of excellence certainly should be our goal in all phases of our lives. We should seek it because we need to leave no room for confusion, conflict or controversy by settling for anything less, because we think we can get away with it. The challenge in business or any team organization is getting everyone to buy into the “pursuit of excellence” vision, and that vision must be channeled from the leadership down. Jesus modeled the Father’s vision to His disciples who modeled it to their eventual followers and the great church movement thrived as the first great Christian enterprise. It to this day has more franchises than any other enterprise the world has ever known.

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