1 Samuel 17:51b-58 – Be Excellent Even When Nobody’s Looking!

Posted: February 22, 2018 in Book of 1 Samuel

1 Samuel 17:51b-58
Israel Routs the Philistines

My last words of advice to my former staff at Fujikura America, Inc. and at LifeSong Church was to “be excellent even when nobody’s watching.” That is the mentality that I wanted to leave them with. That was the mentality that I had while working at both places was that no matter if no one watched or even cared about what I did, I wanted to be excellent at what I did. I always wanted my work to be more than what was expected. I wanted to exceed all expectations for my work. I wanted to be excellent because doing things half-ass is just not in my nature. I have always done whatever it took to get the job done and get it done right. If that means 80 hours in one week, so be it. If that means working from morning til midnight to get the job done, so be it. I also wanted my work to speak for itself. I wanted for someone to be able to come back a year later without me around and be able to figure out what I did based on the documentation available. I wanted to be excellent even after I was gone. I wanted my body of work over the past decade to speak for itself. I wanted to leave my jobs back in South Carolina better than the way that I found them when I started. I can say that I did that.

In my line of work, as the finance & administrative chief, usually the only time that you get notoriety is when something breaks, doesn’t work, blows up, etc. As a result, the best compliment that you can often get as an finance officer is when there is nothing said about finance or administration. In other words, when things are operating as they are supposed to, there is silence. So, you just got to want to be excellent for excellence’s sake. When you provide order and calmness, people just come to expect that and nothing is said unless something breaks. You gotta want to be excellent without accolades all the time. You gotta wanna be excellent because that’s just who you are. You gotta wanna be excellent because often times it is our work that speaks for us as Christ followers. If you are excellent when no one is looking, that speaks volumes. We as Christ followers should want our work to give Christ glory not shame. We should do our work as unto the Lord. We should be excellent because we work for an audience of One. We should be excellent because our desire to be good at what we do speaks volumes to others about who we are. No matter what we do, we do it with a desire for excellence. No matter what we do, it should be done with the idea that being excellent allows us to say to the world that we are giving glory to the Lord in all that we do. Why not be excellent? We should be excellent out of thanksgiving and praise for what the Lord has done in our lives. Why not be excellent? As Christ’s children, people get their impression of Jesus Christ from us. We can demonstrate that because we love Jesus so much that we give him the best of what we do no matter what it is or who is watching. We are excellent because we love Jesus!

It was that idea of doing your best no matter if you get recognized for it or not that came to mind this morning as I read through this passage, 1 Samuel 17:51b-58. Let’s read it together now:

When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah gave a great shout of triumph and rushed after the Philistines, chasing them as far as Gath[a] and the gates of Ekron. The bodies of the dead and wounded Philistines were strewn all along the road from Shaaraim, as far as Gath and Ekron. 53 Then the Israelite army returned and plundered the deserted Philistine camp. 54 (David took the Philistine’s head to Jerusalem, but he stored the man’s armor in his own tent.)

55 As Saul watched David go out to fight the Philistine, he asked Abner, the commander of his army, “Abner, whose son is this young man?”

“I really don’t know,” Abner declared.

56 “Well, find out who he is!” the king told him.

57 As soon as David returned from killing Goliath, Abner brought him to Saul with the Philistine’s head still in his hand. 58 “Tell me about your father, young man,” Saul said.

And David replied, “His name is Jesse, and we live in Bethlehem.”

In this passage, we see that, although David had played his harp many times in front of Saul, Saul’s question to Abner seems to show that he didn’t know David very well. Perhaps, since David was scheduled to marry Saul’s daughter if he was successful (1 Samuel 17:25), Saul wanted to know more about his family. Alternatively, it could have been that Saul’s unstable mental condition (1 Samuel 16:14) may have prevented him from recognizing David. Maybe, Saul was trying to diffuse the popularity of David that was sure to grow from him killing the giant, Goliath. It was kind of a way to put David in his place as the unknown warrior to the king. Regardless, there are times in which we will toil in anonymity. There are times when we will toil and others will belittle our contribution or even steal the credit for our work. However, if we do our work to simply get accolades from others then we will forever be yanked about by the winds of others’ opinions and favor. If we do our work as unto the Lord, we will strive for excellence no matter who is looking or if anyone’s looking.

Do you see your work as unrelated to your walk as a Christ follower? Do you do things half way at work? Do you give your church half way measures because, after all, it’s just volunteer work? How many times have you done work for the church but did not give it your all? Do you give your regular job the best of you? Do you give your church the best of you? Do you do things short-shrift because nobody’s watching? Do you only give your all when you know you are going to get notoriety for having done the work?

What if nobody’s watching? Are you willing to be excellent? What if you toil away for decades at a job that no one even knows who you are? Are you willing to be excellent? Be excellent even when nobody’s watching or nobody cares. Be excellent. Be excellent because you are a Christ follower. Be excellent because everything we do speaks of Jesus Christ. Even the way we do our jobs in the secular world speaks volumes to others about what a Christ follower is like. A Christ follower wants to be excellent no matter what because we are giving glory to our Savior, we are giving thanks to our Savior.

Are you excellent when nobody’s watching?

Amen and Amen.

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