”“We are what we repeatedly do.Aristotle
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Consider this story and it’s implications for you today…
A man who served as a water bearer had two large pots, one hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck and shoulders.
One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.
At the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot always arrived only half full.
For two years this went on daily, with the water bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, fulfilled in the design for which it was made.
But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was unable to accomplish what it had been made to do.
After two years of enduring this bitter shame, the contrite cracked pot spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream, “I am ashamed of myself and I apologize to you.”
“Why are you feeling so guilty, so penitent, so repentant …?” the water bearer asked the sad cracked pot, “Tell me, what are you so ashamed of…?”
“I feel ashamed that for these past two years I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do extra work and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said full of remorse.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”
Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and was consoled somewhat.
But at the end of the trail, the cracked pot still felt remorse, shame and a feeling of guilt because it had leaked out half its water load, and so again the pot apologized to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the cracked pot, “Did you not notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, and not on the other pot’s side? That is because I have always known about your flaw and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we’ve walked back from the stream, you’ve watered them.
For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty, these lovely flowers, to grace his house.”
The Bottom Line.
INFLUNSR defines excellence as choosing to create a better future by going the extra mile.
Each of us has our own unique flaws. We are all cracked pots. But it is the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You’ve just got to take each person for what and who they are, and look for the good in them – most importantly, we must look for the winner within us, maybe hiding deep inside our own selves.
Most of us seem too self-conscious about our weaknesses and spend too much energy and resources in the process of trying to correct our imperfections and hence neglect our strengths.
Why not forget your weaknesses, your imperfections, and focus all your resources on improving your strong points?
That is what a teenager of excellence does. They stop obsessing about their frailties and concentrate all their efforts on enhancing and bettering their strong points, their forte, and choose to go the extra mile. That’s the way to excellence – cherish, nurture and nourish your qualities, your talents and your strengths and send less time obsessing about your weaknesses.
”And this I pray, that your love may abound (excel) still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.Philippians 1:9-10 NET
In keeping with the fact that all believers are to abound or excel in the expression of Christian love, Paul prayed that the Philippians my have greater knowledge and every kind of discernment. But in order to excel in love and wisely express it, they needed to be able “to approve the things that are excellent” (NASB) or choose what is best. The term “approve” or “choose” is the Greek dokimazo, which carries two ideas. First, it means “to put to the test, examine,” and then as a result of the examination or testing, “to approve, make the right choice.” Through the values and priorities that come from following Jesus, His teaching and His example, we are to examine and test, and then choose accordingly.
Is there a “thing” that your student(s) needs to test and approve in order to pursue excellence? What is that thing? How can you help your student(s) begin to test the merit of whatever that thing is in their life?